Last night I saw one of those more graphic anti-smoking ads on TV where they show this procession of good-looking, talented people smoking. Then the last scene is of a deathly white man in a wheel chair with an oxygen tank telling us “this is what will happen to you if you keep on smoking”. So how do you watch this ad and then choose to keep on or start smoking?
Then two times this week I heard a version of “someone showed our church/organization a graph the projected what the number of members/people impacted by our work would be in 20 years. The projections said there would be zero.” Ouch! What do these two organizations do with such prophecies of doom?
Why is the ugly reality ignored? Because we don’t believe it, or we don’t like it, or we think it will never happen to us. So the likely future does not cause any change in us or our organizations and we become succesful only in making analysts into prophets.
Change, true transformation, always begins with facing the ugly reality including the likely end of the course we are on. Then stepping up and doing something courageous about it.
One church I visited this past week, Faith Church in Dyer, Indiana, did this, faced their ugly reality and over a 20 year period literally transformed itself. They grew from a church of a couple hundred people to a church of nearly 5000 on three campus’.
The second organization, a much larger organization full of rich history, heard the same type of projection. I sensed from one of the leaders within this organization, who shared the story with me, that the organization has not yet come to grips with this ugly reality. Thus they are doing nothing serious to change the course they are on. So the result will be, as predicted, that they will make another analyst a prophet and their only future reality to be found in history books.
We need to let analysts be analysts and face the ugly reality they provide so we can, instead, make their projections into catalysts for changing an ugly reality into a beautiful future.