All leaders make decisions on a regular basis. Often, however we are thinking of the present as we do so - which is legitimate. But, every decision made now has implications for the future which is why we should apply the five year test: "How will our current decision affect us five years from now?" In other words, good decisions are not only made for the present but must take into consideration the future as well.
Let me give an illustration from the world of missions. A mission agency decides that to make significant inroads in a majority world country it will start paying pastors what seems like an insignificant amount of money per month (say $150). They jubilantly watch all kinds of individuals sign up, start churches and they think, "Wow, a small investment for a great return." Yet five years later it has now become a burden to the agency as they can no longer sustain what they once thought was a strategic decision and they have discovered that these churches only reproduce themselves when there is another $1,800 to invest. Had the decision been made with an eye to the future it might have been evident what the unintended consequences are.
Many decisions have long term consequences so a good question on major decisions is not simply, "What is the impact now" but also "what will be the impact five years from now."
This is just as powerful a practice in our own personal lives. Decisions about time with family have long term consequences as do financial decisions and any number of other personal decisions. Wise individuals take the long view of life rather than simply living in the moment. The long view requires more discipline but in the end it is far more productive and rewarding.
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