The majority of people have the opportunity to celebrate their 25th birthday. When you think in terms of anniversary however, there are very few times in our life we get to celebrate the number 25. One of the reasons is that anniversaries are often attached to other relationships such as marriage, jobs or organizations. Though 25 years of living seems feasible for most people, achieving 25 years in the context of relationship can often be challenging. A limited number of people celebrate 25 years of marriage. Very few people celebrate 25 years at the same job. A small percentage of organizations survive for 25 years. So when the opportunity to celebrate an anniversary of 25 years in an organization comes along, we should acknowledge it and celebrate.
Last week marked the 25th anniversary of Open Door Church in Edenton, NC where I have the privilege to serve as Lead Pastor. I have been a part of the church for 11 years now and I am thankful for every day of that time. Over the last 25 years literally thousands of people have been touched by the work of this church. I am one of those people. Though I have the privilege to lead this organization now, I am also a life that has been impacted by the work of this church. For me it is hard to believe that I have been around almost half of Open Door’s existence. Though my role has drastically changed over those 11 years and the church has experienced changes over these 25 years, the mission of the church has been consistent.
From humble beginnings in the living room of Ronnie and Edna Holland to the multi-campus church that we are now, lives continue to be impacted and changed for Christ. This past week we invited everyone to join us for a celebration. We celebrated in ways that other churches celebrate – by having church. Some of our former Pastor’s were present to share with us as well as lots of food and games. We set aside time to reflect on the good things that have taken place, struggles that we have worked through, friendships we have missed and new acquaintances that we made. Often while striving to obtain the next goal or achieve the next breakthrough, we forget that it is important to celebrate what we have already accomplished. I find myself so forward thinking at times that I fail to celebrate moments that are important and need celebration. Here are a few reasons why it is important to reflect and celebrate at moments in your life and organization.
It Brings Perspective
In the daily work of trying to make progress and move forward we often lose sight of the big picture. Some moments feel like they are more important than they really are while in the heat of the moment. It is easy to overestimate your own personal contribution. Pride can slip in when we begin to view things with limited perspective. Celebration, especially for things like 25 years, brings a certain perspective that many victories and defeats lie behind. Many people played a role in the success of the organization. What appears to be large moments are only pieces to a larger puzzle when viewed in terms of 25 years.
It Tells Everyone What Was Done Right
What gets rewarded gets repeated. I have heard that said numerous times. When we celebrate right, we focus on what was done right and we remind people of what is most important and what a real “win” looks like. When what should be done is clear and celebrated correctly, everyone has a better idea of what they should be doing. Celebration allows us to focus only on the things that really matter and helps us clarify vision for our organization.
It Minimizes Things That Went Wrong
Sometimes problems look overwhelming or disastrous and we get frustrated thinking that things are just not going right. We wonder if we will be able to overcome the current situation or we constantly see all of the problems. When we take a few moments or days to reflect or celebrate, we realize that things have been overcome and goals have been reached in spite of trouble and difficulty. Over the last 25 years there have been difficult moments and struggles at Open Door. Looking back allows us to recognize that victories have been much larger than the difficulties. The same is true for each of our lives and organizations. Victories do not come because their are no difficulties but in spite of the challenges and difficulties. Years from now we will recognize that of our current circumstances. Distance allows us to also understand those things that went wrong were not nearly as critical as we thought at the moment.
It Encourages Everyone
It can be easy to become discouraged and frustrated in daily life. Celebrating gives everyone a lift in their spirit. I watched over the last week as old relationships were renewed, new friendships were formed and people past and present found themselves encouraged because they were a part of something great. Each of us experience moments of disappointment in our lives. Celebrating the good things that we have been a part of gives us energy and excitement to continue to participate.
Being driven is a great quality to have but in our drive to accomplish the next goal we often forget to celebrate what we have already accomplished. Take a few moments to celebrate what has been accomplished and you may find it makes what you want to accomplish in the future that much easier.