Power can be used in at least two ways: it can be unleashed, or it can be harnessed. The
energy in ten gallons of gasoline, for instance, can be released explosively by dropping a
lighted match into the can. Or it can be channeled through the engine of a Datsun in a
controlled burn and used to transport a person 350 miles. Explosions are spectacular, but
controlled burns have lasting effect, staying power. The Holy Spirit works both ways. At
Pentecost, he exploded on the scene; His presence was like "tongues of fire"
(Acts 2:3). Thousands were affected by one burst of God's power. But He also works through
the church--the institution God began to tap the Holy Spirit's power for the long haul.
Through worship, fellowship, and service, Christians are provided with staying power.
If people would have been asked in 1968 which nation would dominate the world in
watch making during the 1990s and into the twenty-first century the answer would have been
uniform: Switzerland. Why? Because Switzerland had dominated the world of watch
the previous sixty years.
The Swiss made the best watches in the world and were committed to constant refinement of
their expertise. It was the Swiss who came forward with the minute hand and the second
hand. They led the world in discovering better ways to manufacture the gears, hearings,
and mainsprings of watches. They even led the way in waterproofing techniques and
self-winding models. By 1968, the Swiss made 65 percent of all watches sold in the world
and laid claim to as much as 90 percent of the profits.
By 1980, however, they had laid off thousands of watch-makers and controlled less than 10
percent of the world market. Their profit domination dropped to less than 20 percent.
Between 1979 and 1981, fifty thousand of the sixty-two thou-sand Swiss watchmakers lost
their jobs. Why? The Swiss had refused to consider a new developmentthethe
Quartz movementironically, invented by a Swiss. Because it had no main-spring or
knob, it was rejected. It was too much of a paradigm shift for them to embrace. Seiko, on
the other hand, accepted it and, along with a few other companies, became the leader in
the watch industry.
The lesson of the Swiss watchmakers is profound. A past that was so secure, so profitable,
so dominant was destroyed by an unwillingness to consider the future. It was more than not
being able to make predictionsit was an inability to re-think how they did business.
Past success had blinded them to the importance of seeing the implications of the changing
world and to admit that past accomplishment was no guarantee of future success.
James Enery White, Rethinking The Church, Baker Books, 1998, p. 20.