The Future Today
July 2, 2018
by Steve Cartin, MDiv
All of us entertain questions about the future. About our lives. About our practices. Where will I be in five years? Where will my practice be? Should I invest in a cone beam at this time? When will I be able to identify the right associate for my practice? These are all excellent questions.
How would things be different if you or I knew the future? The practical application of the book of Revelation can help understand my life in general or your practice in particular. Some avoid this book, as I did for years out of a reverent fear of not being able to understand its teachings. Others study almost nothing else. Neither end of that spectrum prove helpful. As I studied it recently, one of its key teachings jumped out at me with application to so much of all that God has called me to do in vocation and ministry.
“Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near” (Revelation 1:3, NKJV).
Did you get that? Revelation is for obeying. This is the first of seven beatitudes John includes in the Apocalypse. Three of the seven—including this one—promise blessings for those who obey the visions God gives John to write down (see also Revelation 22:7,14). And that flies in the face of a “future-only” approach to all 22 chapters of this great book.
Could it be that the secret to the future is the daily discipline of obedience?
The answer is, “Yes!” The outcomes we anticipate or pursue for tomorrow will be built upon the obediences of today. And there are at least two key areas of obedience to which you and I as Christian dental professionals much apply ourselves.
First and foremost, we need to be faithful to the attendant responsibilities and opportunities of the two great commandments: loving God and loving others (Mark 12:30-31). We have opportunities every day to live these out with team members, colleagues, patients, family and vendors. The Savior reminds us of what the faithful can expect in the future: “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord” (Matthew 25:21, NKJV). Far from removing us from making decisions today, the challenge of faithful obedience is a call to fully apply ourselves in the calling to which God has drawn our hearts and souls. Phil Hodges put it this way in his section on “Exalting God Only” in Lead Like Jesus Leadership Encounter: “The phrase, ‘Bloom where you’re planted’ is not a sentence of limitation but a call to fulfilment…Do what God puts in front of you until He shows you something else.” In other words, today’s obedience is key to the next thing God has for us in the future.
What is true in the Christian walk is true also in the ethical advancement of the practice, profit and patient care over which God has made us stewards. As a practice coach, I understand that biblical values and proven business principles must remain priorities to keep my calling on track. As a dentist or practice owner, the best answer to questions about the future of your practice are found in the faithful application of biblical values and of sound business and clinical principles today. No new technology itself will be the answer to your problems today. Only in fully utilizing the technology you currently have—blooming where you are planted—will you be able to clearly define what you need for tomorrow and how it will maximize your potential for improving patient care and team development tomorrow. I find that practices with weak radiographic protocols have a more difficult time implementing new technologies than those who do the hard work of insisting on regular FMXs when they don’t have a PAN machine. Those who do an excellent job of charting on paper have less problems going paperless.
To the persecuted believers in Asia Minor—some who were holding on and some who were compromising for gain—Jesus’ message is a message of blooming where they are planted until they are transplanted to glory or until the time of the great harvest. The picture of end times and our eternity with Christ is not there as a predictive “I told you so” signpost to make us appear more informed than others. It is there as a call to be faithful, a call to obedience, a call to bloom where we are planted. For it is in the blessings of obedience that we find fulfillment and greater opportunity in the future. The future is today. Fully obey your calling as a child of God. Fully obey your calling as a dentist.