The Life Stage of an Idea

On this day in 1917 Arthur C. Clarke entered the world like all of mankind as a new born baby. If he were still living Sir Clarke would be celebrating his 94 birthday. You may know Clarke for his novel, 2001: A Space Odyssey. You may also know he was an early theorist on the idea of geostationary orbit (also known as Clarke Orbit in his honor). This reality of stationary orbit is what makes communications satellites effective.

Clarke once stated, New ideas pass through three periods: 1) It can’t be done. 2) It probably can be done, but it’s not worth doing. 3) I knew it was a good idea all along!*

I chuckled when I read that recently. The wisdom of his statement holds true in science, business, education, and in religious settings. I cannot recall the number of times in my 25 years of full time ministry, and even before that as a young person learning about leadership in the Church, I heard leaders mention an idea or program and someone say, “We can’t do that.” Or, “we did something like that ______ years ago and it won’t work now either.”. Then after the idea sits for awhile, someone will ask how much time, effort, or money it will cost. Then say, well, “That sure is a lot, I am not sure it is worth the effort (cost).”. Ironically, it is often one of the same people, five weeks into a powerful ministry that says, “I knew that was a great idea, God is blessing this work.”.

I salute you, Sir Arthur C. Clarke! You were spot on!

– Scott

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