Protect the Future, Not the Past

Our job as managers in creative environments is to protect new ideas from those who don’t understand that in order for greatness to emerge, there must be phases of not-so-greatness.  Protect the future, not the past. – Ed Catmull, Creativity, Inc. 

I’ve been reading Creativity, Inc by Ed Catmull. It’s the background story to Pixar Films, but also some incredible wisdom on nurturing and managing creative environments.

One job for leaders is to protect new ideas even as they emerge from infancy into maturity. Too many potentially good ideas get squashed while they are in the incubation phase.


“Protect the future, not the past” is a great phrase for pastors and ministry leaders. Pixar was all about being creative but had to constantly overcome obstacles to do so. In the same way, church leaders must overcome the obstacles that stand in the way of future innovation, creativity, and inspiration. There are many translating principles to remove obstacles that stand in the way of inspiration.

The Right Team

One of the best ways to get the right team in place in ministry is to grow and develop the people you have. This requires hard work, but the benefit can be astounding. The biggest asset the church has is the people. Great leaders will invite people to get on board and then work with them for a promising future in ministry. As your team dreams and takes risks, you must protect the infancy of new ideas and initiatives.

The Right Process

In an organization as varied as the church, processes must be in place for people to be able to accomplish their part of the overall picture.  This process must be clearly defined and clearly communicated. This clarity helps people know where they are going and how their part is important. As the church defines their processes, new strategies and systems will emerge. These must be nurtured through the phase of “uncertainty” until it either becomes a vital part of the structure or it’s replaced.

The Right Purpose

The purpose of the church isn’t to have great processes or great leadership – the purpose of the church is to reach the world. But these ingredients will help build a foundation for the ultimate mission to be accomplished, to make disciples of Jesus. As a church begins to focus on the main purpose, peripheral things may begin to take a back seat.  This is the point where strong, yet loving, leadership is required to help the church understand that the best days are ahead. We must move foward, seeking God and seeking to do his work in the world.


The church, probably not unlike other organizations, is predisposed to trying to protect the past.  As pastors and leaders, we must learn to protect the future.

 I write with church leaders in mind and I would be honored to have you join me by subscribing to the blog. You can take a look at the top posts here. The posts are categorized: pastors, worship leadersstudent ministry and kids ministry. In case we’re just meeting, here’s little about my life.



Combat Institutional Paralysis With Creativity

A Pastor’s High Priority: Development of Leaders

Four Leadership Secrets Of Billy Graham

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