When I was a kid living in San Diego I could hardly wait to get in the car with my little sister and drive to Anaheim with our parents. Disneyland was in Anaheim! The trip was about 100 miles and anticipation increased the entire way. Visions of the Matterhorn fired-me up! The drive only took about an hour and a half to two hours, but it seemed like forever. I’m sure I asked “Are we there yet?!” a hundred times. Disney was magical to me. Today, all of Disneyland fits into one parking lot of Disney World (Florida) but it still holds its amazing and captivating power. Last summer, my son and I traveled to San Diego for vacation, and yes, we went to Disneyland. We had a blast. Disney’s vision still works, regardless of age. And I still love the Matterhorn. John-Peter loves it too.
“My only hope is that we never lose sight of one thing . . . that it all started with a mouse.” Walt Disney, 1954.
If momentum is a leader’s best friend, vision is unquestionably a leader’s most powerful tool. In fact, vision is the catalyst for momentum. Without it any leader or organization will flounder. The birth of a vision is essential to a leader. For Walt, it started with a mouse. Big visions usually have modest beginnings but are crafted with huge potential. You may feel very limited and finite in your ability to dream a big vision, but keep in mind that the Creator of the universe dreams in you. As a Christian leader, you are not limited to the human realm. You have limitations, but God’s plans aren’t limited. For more on this read the previous article on vision titled “A Leader’s Greatest Panic”.
The Birth of a Vision:
- Are you prepared to receive it?
The most common reason God holds back on giving vision to a leader is that the leader isn’t ready. Is it possible that’s true for you? The preparation may be personal, professional or both. There are huge variables in the possibilities contained within preparation. The range is from nothing more complicated than you are young and God wants to give you a little more experience to get you ready for a larger vision, to personal issues within you that God knows would serve you and your church well to revolve first.
- God breathes it into your heart.
“It’s not so much ‘your’ vision as you are a servant of God’s vision, carrying out part of His Kingdom plan. When you do life with God — God dreams life with you!” (Kevin Myers). This is such a great statement and reminds us of the truth that ultimately it’s not the leader who comes up with the vision, it is God. And, really, isn’t that a relief? You don’t have to muscle up or manufacture a vision for your church. You don’t have to get clever or even creative. God asks you to wait upon Him and He will give it to you. It’s not easy, but it is that simple. I highly recommend Andy Stanley’s book Visioneering. It will help you immensely in this process.
- Vision is connected to compassion.
You see a preferred future. God will make it clear to you. You will become restless for something more, something better, but it’s not about you. A vision from God is always about the good of others. It involves in some way, compassion, justice, love, truth and burden. A great vision is a solution. It’s a better way. It’s a gift from God for His creation that you act upon, and offer people, so they realize a better way of life — ultimately eternal life. Vision isn’t first about success, its first about helping people. Do that right, with a heart for people, and God will grant success.
- Vision stirs conviction within you.
This is part of the continued preparation. As God prepares you, His Spirit within you gets you fired-up for the vision. You get white-hot excited. Leaders are never wishy-washy about a vision from God. You will need this conviction to stay the course and conquer the obstacles. Conviction is essential. No one will care more than you, no one will pray more than you, no one will think and plan more, and no one will lay awake at night more than the leader with the vision. Is it stirring within you like that?
- The people closest to you buy-in to your vision.
There is a potentially high “duh” factor here, but I want to list this one anyway. Please listen to those closest to you. As a leader there are times when you must push through the obstacles, but you must also give access to an inner-circle of trusted friends and leaders who can speak wisdom into your life. It’s important that they believe in the vision with you. If you don’t get buy-in from your inner-circle right away, it may be an issue of timing, not the wrong vision. Take some time to think and pray and share your vision again. However, your vision may need more crafting time with you and God. Meaning, you need a clearer understanding of what God is saying to you.
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to vision or how you receive it. Vision is personal. It’s intuitive in nature and more art than science, but vision isn’t soft. A good vision is clear. It’s solid. People can understand it easily. They will connect with it and get excited with you quickly.
There is no process of birth that is easy. You must take the required time and go through it. There is no “quickvision.com” you can Google to get what you need. God wants you to sit at His feet to hear from Him. My hunch is that’s true because He knows if you will wait in dependence upon Him for the vision, you are more likely to stay close to Him as the vision comes to life.
The most powerful thing in the world is leading people in God’s vision. My prayer is for you and your church to experience His Kingdom to the fullest!