People don’t like assumptions. We’ve all heard the joke. It goes something like this.

“You know what happens when you assume…you make and ass out of you and me.”

I have to admit, I probably laughed the first time I heard this.

But I assume things. We all assume things. We walk into situations with our own experience, knowledge and beliefs.

The Power of Assumptions

I want to share with you two assumptions I carry with me everywhere. Whenever I step into any leadership position, whether it is permanent or just a conversation with someone, I assume two things. I call them my “guiding principles”.

1. The best indicator of a future reality is past and current behavior.
2. You or your organization is designed to get exactly the results you are getting.

Before you begin thinking Chad has descended into corporate leadership mumbo jumbo, let me tell you why these two statements are so important to me.

I am a Wesleyan, and more specifically a United Methodist pastor. I come from a faith tradition that lives in the tension of the dramatic power and influence of grace over each persons life and a sense of personal responsibility once grace is encountered. Organizationally, it could be said John Wesley’s (the founder of the Methodist movement) entire revival hinged upon careful examination and a theological commitment to organizational clarity and purpose. It even applied down to individual persons, with the Wesleyan discipleship system (arguably the most influential by-product of the movement) focusing almost entirely upon person examination and purpose.

If you are a person that believes life is divinely called and directed by God, and I am, we need to always be focusing on how clear we are following God’s vision and purpose is our areas of influence.

So let me unpack why these two statements matter to me.

1. The best indicator of a future reality is past and current behavior.
Have you ever stepped into a situation where you know things need to change? It might have been personally or as part of a church or other organization. You need new outcomes in life. This change can be many different things, from personal development or shifting the entire culture of a group of people.

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard stories of folks realizing things aren’t the best, and are hoping for a different future, but are unwilling to deal with the present and the past. If situations haven’t been perfect…the chance is they won’t be that much different in the future.

The only way to dramatically change the future is to dramatically change the present.

2. You or your organization is designed to get exactly the results you are getting.
This is the second questions. It usually makes the most sense when people are debating the merits of their current practices. It is never hard to get folks to realize there are problems…what is hard is getting them to own up to how they are responsible for the problems.

Call it blame shifting, lack of awareness or education if you want.

We simply have to take personal responsibility for whatever our current outcomes are. If things are flourishing…something is going on right. If we feel we are our of the rhythm of ministry (or just life personally), out of the presence and power of God…we need to change things.

Sadly, I have talked with to many church leaders who acquiesce to the problems and simply think greater faith and prayer is going to flip around the ministries they are part of. Yes-faith and prayer should be the cornerstone towards what Jesus calls us to do, but we have to join that with responsibility and vision. We have to be willing to own exactly what is going on and to never stop.

One of the the marks of the presence of God is forward motion. Jesus moving us closer towards making each place we live in a better example of what life looks like with Him in control. Closer towards justice and peace. Closer towards people making Jesus decisions and not self decisions.

So think about those two assumptions. I have found a discussion centered around the two statements is an amazing jumpstart towards following the mission of Jesus closer and aligning our own personal and church decisions with what Jesus is calling each of us to do.