On Being a Positive Realist:
"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true … think on these things."1
I am a great believer in positive thinking but, as it has been said before, if you've been hit by a Mac truck, all the positive thinking in the world won't take away the pain. Yes, we still need to think positively, but face the truth and think realistically.
I have taught for a number of years in a well-know church where the founding pastor was notorious for his teaching regarding positive thinking. Many of his one-line sayings were highly motivational such as the following: "If you can dream it, you can do it." "If it's going to be, it's up to me." "The impossible problem is solved when we see that the problem is only a tough decision waiting to be made," and many more.
While this pastor was definitely considered to be highly successful in his achievements, the sad fact is that in a time of needed change, he didn't follow his own advice, didn't make the tough decisions that were needed—and his life dream ultimately collapsed. As famous as he was, at a time of needed transition—perhaps because of his age and/or because of ill health—he simply was not being a positive realist.
This is a tremendous challenge for me personally as the day will come when—because of age and/or ill health—it will also be necessary for me to let go of my ministry and hand it over to someone else. I will find this extremely difficult too. This is why currently we are looking into such plans so hopefully and prayerfully all will be in place when the day comes for me to have to step down. Your prayers that God will lead regarding the future of both our U.S. and Australian offices will be greatly appreciated. Furthermore, if you have any practical advice for the future of ACTS, please share that with us. In the meantime, I trust and pray I can keep running ACTS for a good many years to come, but we want to be prepared for the future.
Under normal circumstances the first step, when an unexpected need or crisis arises, is to face and acknowledge the reality of the situation and be very practical. For instance, if I've been hit by a Mac truck, it goes without saying that I need to seek excellent medical help immediately, and then follow the medical advice given, and accept full responsibility for what I need to do to fully recover.
Speaking personally, in all challenging situations I have learned to always pray, not only for God's guidance, but also for his help so that I will see the truth and reality of the overall situation, and to confront me with the truth of what I may in any way be contributing to the problem. Once I see the truth of the total picture, I can then, and only then, see if there is anything I can and need to do to help resolve the problem.
Although in another context, the words of Jesus, "You will know the truth and the truth will set you free," can equally apply to many of life's challenges, circumstances, problems and situations. This is because once we see the total truth and reality of the situation at hand we, more often than not, know what we can and need to do. This is very freeing.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, in every critical situation and circumstance in which I find myself, please give me the insight to see the truth and reality, not only of the total situation, but also what I may be contributing in any way to the problem at hand. And please help me to see what I can and need to do, and the courage to do it. So help me God. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus' name, amen."
1. Philippians 4:8 (KJV).