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We’re often too emmeshed in celebration to notice. But the New Year offers a unique opportunity; for a brief second, just before the clock strikes midnight, we can connect the future to the past; the year that was connects to the year that will be.

We begin the year with a renewed spirit, a sense of optimism and expectation. This year we’ll conquer the scales to lose weight, find our “soul” mates, get a better job or a better work life balance. We commit to improving finances or relationships with co-workers, friends and family or with God. We commit to these resolutions, often to correct or change what we consider mistakes. We often use “if only” to capture these sentiments.

“If only” expresses a strong wish that things could be different. It means the same as I wish but is stronger. We use it to talk about past, present and future unreal conditions (Cambridge Dictionary). We often view “if only” moments as opportunities to gain perspective or wisdom. Author John Frederick DeMartini reminds us:

“Wisdom is looking back at your life and realizing that every single event, person, place and idea was part of the perfected experience you needed to build your dream. Not one was a mistake.”

We all occupy areas or spheres where we have the opportunity to impart wisdom or shape perspective. Imagine what we could accomplish if our perspective changed from what we perceive to be lacking in our lives. We wouldn’t feel the need to “live beyond our means,” a major cause of financial distress. We wouldn’t feel the need to chase the next job, a major cause of job and career dissatisfaction. How many times have you heard of or seen instances of lavish or extravagant living? Does the latest celebrity or athlete singing have the same impact as who will instruct your children? Sometimes, we just have to ask, when is enough actually enough? Oprah Winfrey, described by many as a philanthropist and self-made billionaire, tells us that we should:

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”

A small shift in our perspective can have, what is known in economics as a multiplier effect. This concept states there is a corresponding increase or decrease that is relational to the level of investment. For example, numerous studies illustrate that the federal budget has a multiplier effect of 3:1, meaning that every $1 of investment produces an extra $3 of income.

Can you imagine the multiplier effect in our leadership or relationships with others if we expressed more gratitude (1 Thessalonians 5:16), stopped criticizing (James 5:9), showed compassion (Proverbs 14:21) or were actually concerned about the needs of others (Philippians 2:4)?

We don’t have to be economists to know the most important investments we can make are in God, and then each other; this often begins with changing our perspective. We’ve all experienced working for someone, a relationship, or an environment where you felt uncared for or exploited. I’ll bet it didn’t encourage you to put forth your best effort.

As leaders, the environment that we establish, or tolerate, will have a multiplier effect on the results experienced. Spend too much time being critical of past mistakes and we may dampen the hopes for a better future. Spending too much time on the future can divert our attention from what has to be accomplished today.

Jesus understood the dual needs to leadership. He knew His responsibility, as a leader, was to invest in the development of people (disciples) and keeping them moving forward, focused on their purpose. He knew that the development of the disciples relied on several components. How Jesus Invested in His Team, describes the importance and need for these principles as:

1.     Protected Privacy – The need to schedule and protect time together by scheduling regular and required meetings. Jesus ensured that He had time alone with His disciples, away from the demands and needs of the crowds. He used this time to meet their needs.

2.     Proximity and Consistency – Being close to and present with the Team. Jesus viewed the time spent with His disciples as growth opportunities. His focus was to nurture the relationship with them and focus them on their mission and purpose. He prepared them for when He would be gone.

3.     Purposeful Development – Jesus wanted to be with His disciples, not to criticize but to teach. He spent time reviewing the past and informing them of challenges yet to come. He would often commission them to preach God’s word and heal as a way of developing them.

Jesus worked and developed His team purposefully and intentionally. The disciples were challenged, as are we, to change their perspective (Romans 12:2, GW):

“Don’t become like the people of this world. Instead, change the way you think. Then you will always be able to determine what God really wants—what is good, pleasing, and perfect.”

Challenge:  This year commit to be a leader at home, work or wherever you happen to be. Look forward with hope and optimism. Look backwards at the past, not with regret, but an understanding of how far God has brought you. God can use your behavior and character as the multiplier effect to serve His purpose.

Look forward to learning more about leading like Jesus this year by attending an Encounter workshop.

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