I believe it was Yogi Berra who said, “The trouble with the past is that there ain’t no future in it.”

There’s a reason why the windshield on your car is bigger than the rear view mirror. You should obviously be spending more time looking at what’s in front of you than what’s behind you. We should learn from the past but not linger there—learn from the past,  live in the present and plan for the future.

As leaders, our enemy wants us to remain stuck in the past by either thinking too much about the successes or failures.  The devil will haunt you with lies about who you are and who God is. He will be  quick to remind you of your failures,  your discouragements,  your regrets, your shame, your mistakes and your sins. He will try to convince you that you are damaged goods and that God can’t/won’t use you any longer.

If he can’t do you in because of your bad past, he will work on your pride about your good past—what you’ve  accomplished and try to turn you into a self-sufficient, unteachable and  arrogant leader whom people won’t  want to follow. Either way, perceived failure or  success, he can have you in his grip. Paul says in Philippians 3:13 that he is , “Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies before.” Good advice. I love what Ruth (Billy Graham’s wife) Graham said, “Every cat knows some things need to be buried.”

While our enemy constantly reminds us of both past failures or successes and will try to use it against us, God will take our past  (all of it) and use it for good as we own it, confess it and  learn from it. I can imagine the devil approaching the Lord and saying, “Don’t you remember what Dave Kraft did in this or that situation?” To which my Lord will say: “No, I distinctly remember forgetting that.” That’s what the Cross is all about. I’m so glad that a verse I memorized early as a Christian is still in my Bible, I John 1:9: “If we confess our sins,  he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

I regret the time I’ve wasted rehearsing the past over and over in my head, digging a deeper hole for myself, listening to the liar  instead of the Lord. Recently I committed Philippians 3:12 (Phillips translation) to memory to help me with this. “My brothers, I do not consider myself to have arrived spiritually nor do I consider myself already perfect. But I keep going on, grasping ever more firmly that purpose for which Christ Jesus grasped me.” I don’t want to keep looking back but to keep going forward. I want to use the past as a guide post, not a hitching post. And by his grace I shall continue to do that.

My fellow leader, has your (our) enemy been working you over lately, either because of past failures, sin or past successes? Does he seem to have you on the ropes ready to hit you with the knockout punch? With the  power of the Holy Spirit,  keep your eyes on the windshield not the rearview mirror. The past may describe you but doesn’t need to define you. The Bible is full of people with a past which was forgiven and a future that beckoned. “Let your eyes look directly forward and your gaze be straight before you.” Proverb 4:25 (ESV).