Monuments signify something or someone who was.
Milestones point to how far we have come.
Missions point to where we are headed.
It is imperative for leaders to recognize the difference. Because celebrating what happened in the past is great, but it should not be so important that we forget what lies ahead. More often than not, many overlook this constant principle of leadership and find themselves with all of the capacity to become but none of the qualities to possess. You have what it takes to become a leader, it all begins with recognition.
Take a look at the Chicago Bulls for example. They have a Monument/Statue of Michael Jordan outside of their arena, yet every year the players and fans look forward to the accomplishments of the guys on the current roster. What MJ did was great. He is arguably the best player to ever play in the NBA and they are grateful for his contribution. But what he accomplished was just the foundation of what they hope to become.
In your own life, you may be able to reference many points of remarkable achievement. To get to this point I am certain that you have accomplished many amazing things. However, I want to dispel the myth that your past accomplishments and successes are all that you have to celebrate and be grateful for. As a leader you must begin to see the monuments in your life as inspiration. Realize that what you did was great. But the things that you will do will be so much greater.
The same is true for Milestones. Recognizing milestones is also vitally important, because without goals, it is impossible to measure progress. And we must regularly take stock of how effective we have been, but we must not allow the present accomplishments to derail the future achievements.
Over the past four years our church has seen over 1000 decisions for Christ. Many of those decisions came as a result of our street team who relentlessly walked the campus of nearby universities to share the gospel. This is huge to us, but we also recognize it is not the end result. Our ultimate hope is to see these new believers transition to become disciples of Christ. So while we celebrate the milestone of their salvations we look forward to seeing them become committed disciples of Christ, functioning members of the church, and leaders in their families and communities.
In order for this to be achieved, the Mission must stay out front. There is no other way around it. And God is so great that His very nature prevents us from becoming too comfortable with monuments and milestones. He knew that we would be tempted to do so. But He understands our weaknesses and shows us Grace by putting preventative measures in place so that we will continue onward.
Recalling Moses’ first encounter with God, we see that God came at a burning bush. This could have become a monument to Moses. He would have definitely been justified in doing so. I most certainly would have created a monument if God spoke to me through a bush. Who else can do something like that but God? Yet even if this is what Moses expected, the next time he came back God was a burning mountain! God always has another level! He always has a way of exceeding our expectations!
You see, leaders do not become great because they completely ignore the past. Leaders become great, because they develop the gift of perspective and focus all of their efforts into seeing what God is saying. They take the lessons and the wisdom of the past and use it to their advantage as they continuously move in the direction that He is calling them. There are some who are born with an innate ability to lead. Some who grow into leadership. But all must be developed if they will become an effective leader. I believe that the same is true for you. It is imperative for leaders to recognize the difference among monuments, milestones, and mission, and I believe that as you grow in your understanding of this, God will help you. It takes time to become great at anything, let God develop the leader in you.