By: Brian Harris
I’ve always viewed experience as an advantage.
When you’ve gone through something a few times you pick up insights along the way, and learn what to embrace and what to avoid. If you keep making the same mistakes you have only yourself to blame, so other than experience meaning we are a little older, what’s the downside?
I guess every advantage has a shadow, and it’s as well to be aware that even experience has potential hazards. Think of a few…
Those who have experience assume they know, but what if our experience was at the ho hum level, and we never ask if we could do a lot better? Or what if experience means we no longer listen carefully – for we already know? Or what if we were badly hurt in the past, and are no longer willing to have a go? We might even pessimistically discourage others from trying (“It won’t work. You’ll just get hurt.”)
And then there are those times when the contours of the world around us change dramatically, and we miss the cues because we are well established experts, and could lose too much if we acknowledged the shift.
How Kodak Failed Due to Experience
It was because Kodak were the experts in cameras and photography that they failed to take the development of digital photography seriously. What could these new upstarts teach those who knew so much more? And why should Kodak be anxious about phones that pretended to take photos? Clearly whoever developed them didn’t know how to focus, and would never be a threat. So they continued to produce their cameras and camera film that needed to be sent off to be developed – and went bankrupt. They were so experienced in the old that the new completely unseated them.
If you think about it, experience teaches us that things change. To resist change is to hitch your wagon to decline and decay. True, not every change turns out for the good, but that usually means another change will usurp it even more quickly.
The Bible Prepares Us For Change
In Revelation 21:5 the One sitting on the throne says: “Behold I make all things new.” All things new… Gosh, that will be tough for those who naturally dive towards nostalgia. Shortly before (Rev 21:1) John had announced that he saw a new heaven and a new earth. That’s a lot that will be new. But here is the thing. Though it is a new earth, it is still called earth (or earth made new). There is enough that remains the same to sense the continuity with the past. It’s not a new category that is created (something completely other than earth), but a new version – a new heaven and a new earth. There will be continuity and discontinuity.
I guess experience teaches us the things that are likely to remain. Actually, you really just need to listen to Paul’s take on it. In the end, says Paul in 1 Cor 13:13, there are only 3 things that remain: Faith, hope and love, and the greatest of these is love. Paul is clear, when in doubt, opt for faith, hope and love.
And why would you listen to Paul? Well his experience is pretty impressive…
About the Author: Brian is a speaker, teacher, leader, writer, author and respected theologian who is founding director of the AVENIR Leadership Institute, fostering leaders who will make a positive impact on the world.