“Before considering several engagements of this type that occurred during the World War, let us review some of that same war’s lessons, albeit, no human being can say whether or not they will apply to the war of the future. Indeed, there is tragedy in the fact that the solider must learn from examples of the past and only rarely from the present. In fact, there is a certain danger in the study of military history if we seek to obtain from it more than the eternal verities of leadership, morale, psychological effects and the difficulty and confusion which battle entails. We cannot visualize war of the future merely by studying wars of the past. If this were so, the best professor of history would necessarily be the best commander. Certainly the next war will place entirely new problems before us – problems that have not even been imagined. Our descendants may never have to face the difficulties that confronted us in the last war and that still confronts us today, but we can be certain that in place of these they will have other difficulties to overcome…Let us not fall into the mistake ” (Adolf von Schell, Battle Leadership, 66)
The first thing you will notice from that quote is that Von Schell refers to World War One as “the World War.” That is because this was written in the late 1930s and WWII had not yet occurred. The main point in this quote is this…it is important to study and understand the battles of the past but we cannot expect future battles to follow past patterns. Why? Because things change. We face new challenges. There are advances in technology, culture, and strategy that alter the battlefield. How does this apply to leadership in ministry? It is too easy to fight battles of past generations that are no longer relevant to our contemporary culture.
The past informs the future but we should never confuse the past as being the future.
When we do that, we end up in all kinds of wacky conversations that lack relevance.