“We grow by dreams. All big (individuals) are dreamers. They see things in the soft haze of a spring day, or the red fire on a long winter’s evening. Some of us let those dreams die, but others nourish and protect them; nourish them through the bad days until they bring them to the sunshine and light — which comes always to those who sincerely hope that their dreams will come true.”   Woodrow Wilson

Some people are just “dreamers.” Some people work hard and see their dreams come true. Vision starts in the heart of a leader, and like Woodrow Wilson said, it is nurtured until it becomes a reality.

William James said: “A new idea is first condemned as ridiculous and then dismissed as trivial, until finally it becomes what everybody knows.”  If you understand vision, you understand what James has said. It’s the nature of vision. You see it first. And you were the first to say it and attempt others to help achieve it.

If you are a leader in a local church, you might be tempted to think that there are many leaders who have a vision for a vibrant local church. That’s true, but only YOU have a vision for YOUR church. Whether you are the senior pastor, or a department leader or a volunteer who leads a small group, you need a vision to lead.  What is your vision for the people God has entrusted you with?

In the previous edition of the Pastor’s Coach, I talked about communicating a vision. In this article I’d like to discuss ways in which you can see that your vision has gained true traction. Momentum is the more popular word, but I like traction. It’s a more gritty word that aptly reflects the work involved in seeing a dream come true.

I have listed “evidence” of vision that has caught traction here for you. Think about your vision and compare to these thoughts.

  • A deep passion that captures people’s attention.

Your vision will only burn as bright as you do. This idea is not about you “working up” something or “turning on” the hype. When this passion comes from deep within you, people will sense it. The impact is palpable. It is inescapable. You will have the people’s attention. They will be excited. They’ll ask questions and want to know what’s next.  They will be eager for more information. They will be proud of the vision and tell their friends.

  • A sense of believability for a better future.

We are in an election year. I listen carefully to what presidential candidates say and I immediately have a sense of what I believe is possible, probable, doable and what I think will never happen. Your church is very similar, just on a smaller scale than our national government. And hopefully much more efficient! Faith is always involved, but the people do need to be able to “see” it with you, at least see enough to believe with you.

  • A largeness that creates enthusiasm.

This is not about numbers, though numbers matter. The idea of largeness is more about being bold for the sake of the Kingdom! It’s the “go big or go home” idea. The vision needs to be large enough to require God in the mix or it won’t work. You can see the need for balance between “believable” and large!!

Leadership is an art and crafting the vision is just as important as communicating it.  There is a direct connection between the size of the vision and the level of enthusiasm.  Last Christmas 12Stone® Church fed 6,000 families over the Christmas holidays. The number mattered. It is important to feed 6 families, but that would not have generated great enthusiasm. You see the point.

  • A dedication that inspires sacrifice.

This is similar to passion. The difference is found in your tenacity. Passion can be big, but short term. Dedication is long term, and requires determination and resolve. Candidly, it’s easy to be passionate for a short time, but to be dedicated for years, even decades, takes an uncommon leader. This will result in a dedication found in the people. Much like passion, the people will not be more dedicated than you are to the vision. The outcome is a willingness to sacrifice. The sacrifice can be seen in time, energy, and financial resources.

  • Resources flowing toward the vision.

Now we really get practical! Money! Let’s be candid, money follows vision. Without financial resources, no matter how godly you behave, the mission can’t move forward.  Many of us who are pastors don’t like admitting that truth, or operating within that reality. But nonetheless, it is the way it is. Candidly, I think it’s the way it should be. A worthy vision shouldn’t be free, and a vision that is truly worthy will attract financial resources. No church ever has “enough” but God will supply what we need to accomplish the vision.

  • An application that is transferable.

On many occasions I have traveled to churches and listened to a vision that seems like it was wrapped up in the pastor, or the pastor and a few key leaders. I don’t mean this in a negative way to those pastors, but they simply were not aware. It was the pastor’s dream and vision, not something that the entire congregation owned.  Again, it wasn’t that the pastor didn’t want the people to be involved, but it was apparent that the people couldn’t do what was involved, or they weren’t needed except for a few tasks. One example I remember was a television ministry. There is nothing wrong with that, and I’m sure it was to reach more people for Jesus, but all it required was the pastor and a small tech team. That vision never transferred well into the hearts of the people.

  • A soundness that stands up to scrutiny and the test of time.

You know the difference between fluff and something of substance. Last summer I was shopping for a new grill. Some were thin and wobbly and others were solid and stable. It was obvious which ones would last for several years and which ones would barely make it through the summer.  Your vision is the same. It needs to have a biblical soundness and a solid nature that stands up to examination over time. It needs to make sense and have obvious evidence that it was well thought through. This does not suggest that you should make it complicated. In fact, sometimes making something simple, which is in reality complicated, is far more work than the reverse!

  • You cannot be silenced!

When my kids were younger and they really wanted a certain toy for Christmas, there was no silencing them! Those “toys” have grown into things like an iPhone! They dream big and never give up!  I love this thought. It’s simple but powerful. If God has breathed a vision in you, you simply cannot and will not be silenced.  That’s it! Compare this to the things we want silenced like negative talk and gossip. Wow, what a difference. Don’t let anyone shut you down. Keep talking your vision!

So as you reflect on these eight thoughts, how are you doing?   Where are you strong? Where can you improve?