I recently attended a workshop on church growth and the speaker spent considerable time describing the proper use of the glance and the gaze. Now obviously a "glance" is when we take a quick look; we notice certain key things and then move on. A "gaze" occurs when something has truly caught our attention. When we gaze at something we behold it, analyze it, study it. Unfortunately, he told us, many church's get stuck because they gaze at all of their problems and only take an occasional glance at their dreams, hopes, and vision for the future. The result is a problem focused church with little or no awareness of a future plan.
This same principle holds true in our personal life. As Michelle Weiner-Davis has said, "We become experts on what's wrong with us" but have very limited understanding of what it really is that we want for our life; let alone what that life would look like. What we need to do is to develop the discipline of taking an occasional glance at our problems, struggles, and short-comings, but learn to gaze at our vision (what some would call our preferred future).
It's necessary, at times, to consider our failings. Inviting the Lord to guide us as we examine our heart so that we might know what sins to confess or behaviors to abandon is a discipline that brings us healing and wholeness. But to look at our life (our marriage, or job) as through a microscope is truly a strategy for defeat.
What are your Best Hopes? What are your dreams? What does this preferred future really look like? This is where our gaze should be fixed. So I invite you to set the microscope aside and pick up the binoculars. Look into the future and catch a vision of where God really wants to take you. This is where your gaze should be. It is the direction in which our gaze is fixed that our life, most likely, will head.
Dr. Allen Schneider is a United Methodist pastor and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist presently serving the Sapulpa and greater Tulsa communities.