Do you drive looking at the rear-view mirror?
9:10am - 07/Dec/2019

When we drive a car, do we look around and check our surroundings? Do we look behind and to the sides? Do we check our rear-view and side mirrors? And do we look up and ahead toward where we want to go? These are rhetorical questions. The real question is whether we get stuck looking in the rear-view mirror more than through the front windshield.

As the end of 2019 draws nigh, some of us have been looking back and reflecting on the past year. Whereas we cannot change history, we can learn from it. But if we don’t learn from history then we are doomed to repeat it. Moreover, some have asserted that we need to look backward in order to move forward. While we should review and reflect on the past, we should not get stuck and dwell in the past. The LORD Jesus said: “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” When He said, “looks back” (βλέπων εἰς τὰ ὀπίσω), Jesus used the word ὀπίσω (Strong’s G3694) for “back” or “backward,” indicating looking at the things which are behind. This is the same word that the apostle Paul used when he instructed the Philippians to forget what is behind and to strain forward to what is ahead (τὰ μὲν ὀπίσω ἐπιλανθανόμενος τοῖς δὲ ἔμπροσθεν ἐπεκτεινόμενος). Furthermore, the Greek word Paul used for “forget” is ἐπιλανθανόμενος (Strong’s G1950). In the context of Philippians 3:13, this evokes the notion of “putting aside from your mind” and “no longer care for.” 

Most of us don’t drive looking in the rear-view mirror, although we do check it. We look upfront at where we want to go. Rather than spinning our wheels, we get traction on our actions. Thus, once we have learned from our past then we move on and ahead, stretching forward to the things that are before us. Thence, Paul exhorted: “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Therefore, once we put our hands, our hearts, and turn our heads forward, let’s strive to what is ahead.

Albeit we review the past, we are no longer living in the past. However, we can apply our lessons learned for the future, mitigating the faux pas and leveraging the benefits. Regarding reviews there has been some contention concerning the “annual performance review” exercise, be it in the corporate business context such as the so-called secular marketplace or in the Christian ministry context such as the sacred sanctum of the local church. Having been a participant – both as a recipient and as a deliverer – in performance reviews, in both contexts I have these observations. Some have experienced a feeling of “intimidation” during a performance review; this includes both the supervisor and the subordinate. Some reviews entail tough conversations and could be confrontational. Morale could be damaged. Attrition could ensue. Some have sensed the apprehension of being ranked among peers, and being “graded on the curve,” which could affect rewards and create a competitive culture of infighting. We are reminded that even the LORD’s disciples had vied for prestigious positions; even their mother was engaged in the lobbying. Perhaps we need to be more like Mary who sat at Jesus’ feet.

Thus some organizations have transformed their thinking with a renewal of their mind. Instead of undertaking performance reviews they are proactively doing performace previews. This approach looks ahead to what is needed for the worker to perform well, and to strive for excellence in whatever they do. The preview discussion would address WHAT goals and deliverables are expected and HOW they can be achieved, including the necessary personal development objectives to enable them to be successful. Some groups have implemented a “check-in” process whereby the supervisor and subordinate check-in with each other on a regular basis throughout the year instead of toward the end of the year (e.g., annual check-up) and be surprized. Real-time (i.e., current and timely) and ongoing (i.e., regular and periodic) feedback provides course correction and guidance as the worker navigates along the way rather than at the end of the journey.

Check out these posts:

Is the Annual Performance Review Being Scrapped?

No More Performance Reviews: Will it Succeed or Backfire? 

As the start of 2020 draws nigh, let us count our many blessings and make our blessings count. Let us look forward to the new year, and may we act as a conduit through which God’s blessings flow to others. Let’s not be fixated on the things behind. Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. 

Don’t drive by just looking in the rear-view mirror. Look UP and ahead.

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