Our Reset and Negative Space

by pmckaughan on July 8, 2011

It is all fine to talk about a reset moment, but when you or I push that button, what is going to come up on the next screen? What should my ministry look like? What will be my context of ministry 5 – 10 years from now? These are questions any responsible leader must ask. Here are a couple of things to consider:


Futurists say that 80% of what will exist 25 years from now is with us today. That is true of the people we know, the institutions we serve, as well as the buildings and material artifacts that surround us. This important assumption means that, in all probability, there will be significant continuity between the future and the world of today. The future will probably not be discontiguous with the present. But don’t get too comfortable!


Do you remember those pictures from high school or college that were examples of “negative space” where the drawn image is only half of what is there? The young woman’s face hides the image of an old lady. Then there is the image of a vase. When one looks at the white or “negative space” around the vase we see the profiles of two men facing one another. Then there is the beautiful woman who in the “negative space” is really a sax player.

In many instances we see what we expect to see, and the realities of the “negative space” are lost to us. What things that make up the future’s 80% hide other images that we must be alerted to. What are the things so familiar to you that the implications of the “negative space” around them don’t even register on your consciousness?


A wise man made a statement that has been with me for 35 years or more. The saying goes like this, “The most common reaction to a revolution is not, “I supported it” or “I opposed it” but, rather, “I didn’t know it was happening.” This speaks to that comfortable familiarity we all have with today’s 80% of the future. It also emphasizes the truth that revolutions are often hidden to those who should have seen them. They often reside in the “negative space” around what we know and expect to see. We must all cultivate the skill of looking beyond the familiar and expected to those societal movements that exist in our contemporary “negative space.”


Before you hit that reset button, ask God to give you the eyes to see what is in your “negative space.”


A final thought:  “Negative space” is no mystery to God. He is the all knowing, all powerful, Sovereign of the universe. “Negative space” exists in His providence. We are not even at the mercy of that 20% of the future which resides in the unknowable far side of the knowledge horizon. The One who breathed the very stars into being is in control. This awesome God has commissioned and empowered you and me to be a part of His unstoppable process of reconciling all of creation to Himself.

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