Messages: Culture is intentionally shaped as the right messages are consistently and clearly communicated to the staff, church leaders and membership

“We’ll See” – A Cautionary Fable

Toward the end of the movie “Charlie Wilson’s War,” there is told one of my favorite stories. A CIA officer, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, cautions the Wilson character, played by Tom Hanks, not to be too sure they have done something glorious in helping to chase the Soviets out of Afghanistan. To make the point, he tells the fable of a Zen master and a boy. It goes something like this:

On his sixteenth birthday the boy gets a horse as a present. All of the people in the village say, “Oh, how wonderful!”

The Zen master says, “We’ll see.”

One day, the boy is riding and gets thrown off the horse and hurts his leg. He’s no longer able to walk, so all of the villagers say, “How terrible!”

The Zen master says, “We’ll see.”

Some time passes and the village goes to war. All of the other young men get sent off to fight, but this boy can’t fight because his leg is messed up. All of the villagers say, “How wonderful!”

The Zen master says, “We’ll see.”

The message behind this story is pretty clear. We’re prone to jump to conclusions about whether something is “good” or “bad.” We are especially quick to label something as “bad.” The reality is that things can be either good or bad, both good and bad, or neither.

We’ll See Stories in the Bible and the Church

The Bible is full of such examples. When Moses killed an Egyptian beating a Hebrew slave and fled to the desert, it looked like the end of his career. When Joseph was sold into slavery, things appeared hopeless. And, Jesus’ crucifixion was initially perceived as a tragic and pointless ending. In chapter 16 of Luke, Jesus shares the story of a notably wealthy man who lived a life of extravagant luxury that everyone envied, but he died and went to hell. And, in Luke 12, Jesus tells the parable of the rich man who told himself he would build bigger barns to store his abundant harvest, then he would eat, drink and be merry. But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you.’

And, there are countless examples in the church as well. The loss of dynamic leader can appear devastating, but allows for others to come forward with just the right gifts that are needed for the next phase of the church’s journey. Financial difficulties can appear insurmountable, but can prompt people to step up and give as never before. What looks like one thing in the present can appear totally different when viewed in the rear view mirror.

I find that the “We’ll See” story serves as a nice reminder to consider circumstances from more than one vantage point. It is a further reminder that it usually takes considerable time to accurately and fully determine the true outcomes of an event.




Posted on November 5, 2019

Jim Baker

Jim is a Church Organizational Leadership and Management Coach, Consultant and Trainer. Throughout his career Jim has demonstrated a passion for showing Pastors and Ministers how to use organizational tools for church and personal growth and health.

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“For I may be absent in body, but I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see how well ordered you are and the strength of your faith in Christ.” Colossians 2:5