Why “Now and Later” Is the Strongest Strategy for Making an Impact

April 15, 2023

At Scatter, we’re equipping you with the tools and resources you need to thrive in the ways God has uniquely designed you to contribute. We want to see you leverage your personality and passion, your talents and training to bring real and lasting impact to the world around you.

In the early 1960s, the Phoenix Candy Company was looking to create a new staple in the candy industry. They knew they needed something that hadn’t been done before, something that separated their product from the competition and stood out on the shelves of stores.

After much experimentation, they settled on the idea of making a candy that both tasted good when you first ate it and that released more flavor the longer you chewed. And thus, in 1962, the world was introduced to Now and Laters.

You might have grown up eating and enjoying this candy or maybe, for you, a Now and Later falls in the category of older candies seemingly forgotten. Regardless, there is a potent lesson to be found in the idea of Now and Laters that can clarify how we can lean into God’s plans and his purposes for our lives.

If we want to contribute to the society around us and build a life that has a significant and lasting
impact, it’s time that we embraced a Now and Later mentality.

The Genius of the “And”

One of the main tensions in our cultural climate is our heightened sense of urgency. It’s easy to get sucked into the spiral of immediacy and to live out of an “as soon as possible” framework. From the small, trivial things like waiting in the drive-thru at a fast food restaurant to the bigger, more weighty desires of influence, power, and impact, we tend to live much of our lives with a strong focus on the “now.”

And that’s not necessarily a bad approach.

In fact, the Scripture expressly encourages us to make the most of today (Ephesians 5:15-16). It encourages the youthful, like Timothy, to set the example in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity (1 Timothy 4:12). We are meant to be people who aren’t fixated on the future, who are content with the moment, and who are interested in the good works that Jesus has set before us for this day.

We are meant to live, work, contribute, and make our mark in the “now.” But where we veer away from the Scripture and away from conventional wisdom is when we end the story there. When we become so hyper-focused on the impact we can make “now” that we devalue the significance of the “later.”

There’s a reason the Pheonix Candy Company called their product a Now and Later. They wanted their candy to be a both/and instead of an either/or. And that’s the same reality we must embrace as well.

Jim Collins and Bill Lazier, two businessmen, renowned thinkers, and authors wrote about this difference between “both/and” and “either/or” in their book Beyond Entrepreneurship 2.0: Turning Your Business Into an Enduring Great Company. They said,

“Builders of greatness are comfortable with paradox, they don't oppress themselves with what we call the "Tyranny of the OR," which pushes people to believe that things must be either an OR b, but not both. Instead, they liberate themselves with the genius of the "and."

It’s not a “Now or Later.” It’s a “Now and Later.” And the same is true with your impact, significance, gifts, talents, and skills. God has purposed and invited you into the genius of the “and.” When you embrace this possibility, doors will open for you, both in this season and in the days to come.

Let’s go a bit deeper and explore both of these moments in time to uncover how you can thrive in the now without ignoring or compromising your later.

Living in the Now

I know a lot of younger leaders who struggle with juggling humility with ambition. These two characteristics seem to sit on opposite ends of a see-saw so that when one rises, the other falls, and vice versa.

But the good news is that it is possible to be both ambitious and humble. In fact, these characteristics can be more interconnected than they are separated.

The first step towards living in the now is understanding that if your identity is in Christ, you have value today regardless of your circumstances.

You have something to contribute to this present moment because you have been uniquely wired with a ‘one-of-a-kind-in-the-whole-world’ combination of passions, skillsets, talents, and personal experience.

Over the last decade, I’ve walked with professionals from all stages of life and I’ve come to realize that if you spend your life only waiting to contribute later, you might never get the opportunity.

If your vocabulary is saturated with sentences that start with, “One day…” you’ll eventually wake up without many “one days” left.

You don’t have to invent the next society-shaping app or write your first book by the time you’re 27. There is a long list of successful men and women who contributed mighty things later in life. But, like the parable of the talents in Scripture, you do have to be willing to contribute what God has placed in your hands now.

Living in the Later

If you’ve ever had the thought, “I’ve missed my opportunity,” you might need to re-evaluate your thinking of the “later.”

If you look out ahead and see more darkness than possibility, you may need to remember and re-center around the truth that God sees you, He knows you, and He is working all things out for good, for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

Now before you jump in with objections, there are some things in life that truly are “now or never” situations. And there are some situations when the road ahead may be darker for a season.

That doesn’t mean that your “later” isn’t worth pursuing.

For those who follow Jesus, all of our “laters” will one day come to full maturity in the eternal joy of victory, peace, and resurrected life. But even on this side of heaven, God is able to author and perfect good works that we will continue to grow into.

So, again, if you haven’t changed the world by the time you’re 27, that’s okay. God knows what He’s doing and there are still things ahead of you that may or may not change the entire planet. But you can know for sure that if you lean into what He has in store, you’ll at least have the opportunity to change the world that’s immediately around you.

If you haven’t found your spouse as quickly as you would have hoped, or finished your schooling, or made that life move, or started your family, or excelled at your business, or any of the other hundreds of desires that may feel unfinished or unfulfilled, take heart. God is still in your “later” and He knows what you need.

When you look out into the later and see the road ahead through the lens of potential and possibility, you are empowered to choose endurance. You begin to appreciate things like durability, faithfulness, or longevity. You start to trust that good things can take time and that if you invest in your now, your later will be exactly where you need to end up.

As John Lennon once said, “Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”

You Don’t Have to Know the Works to Do the Works

One of the most common misconceptions is that you have to know the plan to work the plan.

But that’s not the way that the Scripture outlines a life well lived. Ephesians 2 reminds us that God knows and created good works for us to walk in. Philippians 1 tells us that what God started, He will bring to completion. All the while, you can find dozens of Scriptures that encourage us to do good works, to live wisely, and to pursue righteousness right where we are.

If we stop living well now because we can’t clearly see or envision our later, then we run the risk of compromising both.

You might not fully understand how your now connects to your later, but that shouldn’t hinder you from doing the work with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength today.

You have no idea what doors are being opened and closed before you, but you can be sure of this: God is at work, and He is inviting you to join Him in the process of pursuing significance in His power and through His Spirit.

To learn more about what it means to make a kingdom impact in the world, sign up for the Scatter Email!

Article by Jake Daghe, writer and director of discipleship at Passion City Church

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