Every so often I enter a congregation that is in grief and sorrow about their current state. Membership and financial giving has started to decline, their programs aren’t as robust as they used to be. “How have we gotten to this place?” they ask, “We just want to go back to the way things were, the days when everything ran great, the days we were on fire!” I call this “the quest for the golden years”. While there is nothing wrong with holding up our past accomplishments, there is certainly danger in only aspiring to be what we once were.
Think of it this way; One day, Jesus sat down with his disciples and told them a story of a boss that had given each of his three employees a great sum of money. The first employee went out, invested the money and doubled the amount he was entrusted with. The second did likewise and also doubled his initial amount. The third employee however, went home and put the money he was entrusted with under his mattress. When the boss came back to check on his investments, the first two employees told their boss about the significant amount they had earned through investing the initial sum of money. The third employee however, told his boss, “I know that you are a very savvy business person and I knew you’d be really upset if I lost your money, so I just put it under my mattress so that you wouldn’t lose your initial capital.” The boss, very upset by this, said to the employee, “If you knew I was a savvy business person, why wouldn’t you at least put the money in the bank to gain interest? Take the money you have returned and give it to the employees that are looking to make a difference.”
Reliving the Golden Years is simply the act of trying to relive what was once the status quo. The first two employees were not satisfied with what the status quo was, so they changed it. The third employee, however, didn’t feel that way and only saw the risk that faced them if things didn’t work out. So he hid the money under his mattress. When the boss came back, he wasn’t content with what was once the “golden years,” actually, he was quite upset about it. When we are not willing to challenge our ideas around the golden years we are at risk of becoming stagnant and no longer relevant to those around us.
Let’s look at one more quick example through the ever popular musical group; the Beatles. In 1962, they released their first hit “Love Me Do” and by early 1963 their album “Please Please Me” takes the UK by storm. By October of 1963, “Beatlemania” is spreading quickly through the UK and it seemed that the Beatles couldn’t get any better. Except they did. This was before they ever released hits such as “Hard days night” or “Can’t buy me love,” or released the White Album or played on the Ed Sullivan Show. ‘I can only imagine’ what music would have looked like had the Beatles stopped in 1963 and thought to themselves, “These are going to be the golden years, let’s hold on to these.” The Beatles became cultural leaders by continuing to reinvent themselves while simultaneously staying true to their music. They weren’t content with status quo, they were constantly trying to improve. Even when things looked grim, it would be easy for them to look back to the “Golden Years” but they continued to strive onward.
Simply put, the quest for the Golden Years is a desire to go back to something that you could likely outperform now. It’s stating, “We can’t do any better than that, so why bother trying to strive for excellence?” Imagine where the Christian Faith would be if we didn’t strive for something more then we’ve already accomplished. So let me leave you with this, “Be strong and courageous! For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
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Jason is in the business of helping churches move from conflict situations to creative solutions. He has particular skills in conflict management, social media, and leadership development.