THE VISION MUST SPEAK
Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, but happy is he who keeps the law – Proverbs 29:18
Vision is the bridge between the present and the future. Without it we perish or go “unrestrained,” [NASB], disorderly or perish. Vision gives knowledge and understanding to a calling and put plan in place to birth a purpose. Those without vision spend their lives taking the path of least resistance as they try to avoid discomfort nor do they pursue a course with utmost diligence or spiritual intelligence.
A “vision” is a clear mental image of a preferable future, imparted by God to His chosen servants and is based upon an accurate understanding of God, self, and circumstance. A vision is a dream, an ambition. To “envision” means to see ahead or conceive something your heart desires. A vision is a mental view or image of something good and worthwhile which is not yet actually present. To envision means to imagine, plan beforehand, or consider the possibilities.
Vision is for you, not just leaders. Vision is all about the future, not the past and present!
The level of sacrifice that a vision requires will determine the size of people who follow. Sacrifice, ardent pursuance and willingness to birth forth a cause separates the small from the great. Visionary people always connect with God to get revelation and insight which is the godly map needed to chart the course that God ordained for them to walk in, in order to fulfill kingdom mandate. Whatever is received as vision must not contradict the scriptures. It must line up with the written word just as Jesus reiterated that He came in the volume of books to achieve the will/vision that God set for Him to fulfill [Psalms 40:7, Heb. 10:7].
“I pray that the glorious Father, the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, would give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know Christ better. Then you will have deeper insight. You will know the confidence that he calls you to have and the glorious wealth that God’s people will inherit. You will also know the unlimited greatness of his power as it works with might and strength for us, the believers” Eph. 1:17-19
In pursuant of vision there are “crosses” that we must endure so to speak, because of the joy awaiting us when the vision is birthed according to the pattern that God showed us to follow. We must realize that the passing through the valley is to prepare us for a greater destiny. Our vision of the future may give us present or temporary physical discomfort but pursuing the purpose will get us to the place of triumph, victory and accomplishment.
So many of us go through life not understanding the purposes of such trials. We spend our days walking a crooked path, believing that every obstacle in the road is a problem and something to be avoided but riding over the storms or hurdles in our path bring us closer to fulfilling the vision. For example if a pastor have a hard knot deacon whose opinion differs from all may be God is using him to work on your temperament or patience in exploiting the vision.
Your vision comes from God, it is not something you thought overnight; your priorities and spiritual gifts will help you focus on your vision; and your vision begins where you are now; so you must face and solve your problems, and then overcome all barriers to fulfill your dream.
“Without prophetic vision people run wild, but blessed are those who follow God’s teachings” Prov. 29:18 GW
The second part of this Proverb [Prov. 29:18] says, “But happy is he who keeps the Law.” The law isn’t just something God gave to Moses. It is also the teachings that restraints, set boundaries, principles and disciplines which we must develop around our life in order to direct us through obstacles instead of around them. These obstacles become baptisms of fire that forge our character so we can attain and maintain a life of greatness. Even if we fail sometimes in the quest of pursuing the vision, we must have the attitude that we are discovering the “how not to” pursue the vision
WHAT IS VISION?
Vision is an experience of seeing someone or something in a dream or trance, or as a supernatural apparition. Vision is the lens that interprets the events of our life, the way we view people and our concept of God. If we have a scratch on our glasses, it may seem like everybody around us has scratches too, but the problem actually lies with us because our vision is impaired. Jesus said that our eyes are the windows of our heart. Harvard University Business Review said “A vision statement says what the organization wishes to be like in some years’ time”. In the same token God shows us the end point of what we are to accomplish for Him in ministry so that we can slowly, steadily and surely begin to do the works , and be armed with what it takes to see it accomplished
The three elements of vision are: who you are which is your purpose, where you are going which is your picture of the future and what will guide your journey which are your core values. Values provides the trust and appropriate behaviors needed for organizational and team success. Vision provides direction and a sense of purpose. Simply put we must know the business of God that we are called hereunto pursue, we must have a proactive spiritual and mental picture of the end result of what we are pursuing to do and the “how to, map, blueprint or guide” to follow in order to accomplish what we are pursuing.
Visions are created, communicated and acted such that co laborers may understand and pursue with knowledge, we create supportive structures and the set goals are implemented and aligned with vision. It is like bring together all the instrumentation and labors necessary like paths of the JIGSAW, only when we bring all the paths together can we see the picture being created. Dictionary.com calls vision “a vivid, imaginative conception or anticipation”. Vision is important for building team work and resolving conflicts. It pays to have a God given master plan that we can resort to when things are not aligning with
Paul prayed that the eyes of our heart would be enlightened. In other words, we perceive with our eyes but we see with our hearts. Our minds receive images from our eyes but our heart interprets these images. If our heart becomes bitter, jealous, hurt or in some way infected, the lens of our heart is distorted. What we perceive is happening and what is really going on could be two completely different things. Jesus said, “You will know the truth and the truth will make you free” (John 8:32).
The word truth used here is not referring to the Bible itself, (although all truth is rooted in the Bible) but here the word truth means reality. Jesus is saying, you will understand what is real and that will free you. So many of us live in a virtual reality. The way we view life can feel and look real, or make perfect sense, but still not be real at all. Have you ever watched a good movie and gotten totally into it? You experience all the emotions of real life. You may even leave the theater still “feeling” the movie, but it was just a movie? it was never real. The truth is: we see what we believe to be true. Another way to put it is, if you have the wrong pretext you will misunderstand the context. Having a revelation of what is real will deliver us from a life of torment that virtual reality often causes.
Vision can be compared to PAINTING. First, you get a canvass and all. Then you imagine an image of something that doesn’t yet exist. Then you start sketching , etc. In vision you paint things in mind that will help make your dream come true.
ESTABLISHING CORE VALUES
Therefore, the things we believe to be true determine the way in which we interpret life. These “things” are called “core values.” Core values are the lens or eyes of our heart. It is important for us to realize the difference between what our core values presently are and what we really want them to be. Often, the things we say we believe and the things we actually believe are not the same. We must understand that it is not the truths that we believe in our head that are our core values, but rather the ones we believe in our heart. The things we perceive to be true determine the way we respond to the world around us and to God who lives within us.
These core values also help define the part of the flock that we find ourselves called and attracted to. The children of Israel experienced this principle when they came into the Promised Land. Joshua assigned land to them according to their tribes and divisions (Joshua 18:10). In other words, they received land according to their diverse visions. For instance, if they had a vision for farming, they probably did not go with Caleb to the mountain country but instead were given land that best facilitated their vision. Therefore the land they were given and their vision was congruent. From this perspective, it is not very hard to see how some church splits happen. Sometimes pastors, in their zeal to build their churches, attract people that have a vision for things that their churches or “land” (metaphorically speaking) will not sustain. This dual vision eventually ends up in di-vision.
FORESIGHT, INSIGHT & OVERSIGHT
True Godly vision consists of foresight, insight and oversight that come from His sight. Foresight is like looking at life through a telescope. This outlook allows us to know what is ahead as it connects us to our future. Foresight is the element of vision that helps life make sense and gives us the motivation that we described earlier.
Insight is like viewing life through a microscope. This perception gives us an understanding of why things happen in life. It also helps determine the underlying motivations of the heart.
Oversight puts life into context. It is like flying over our house in a helicopter. There is a perspective that we can only receive from this vista that helps us understand where we are with respect to where everything else is. The sons of Issachar are great examples of this kind of vision. The book of I Chronicles says that these men understood the times and had knowledge of what Israel should do (12:32). People that are blessed with this type of vision often have great wisdom concerning the seasons of life.
His sight assures us that the vision we have is from God. A vision from the Lord creates a mission from heaven. This is illustrated in the life of Moses when he went up on the mountain, received a vision of the tabernacle, and was told to construct it according to the pattern that he had received. (Exodus 24:16-28:43) Visions like this are just “pipe dreams” without some sort of administrative plan to complete them. A lot of people have lofty ideas about things they would like to accomplish for God but they seem to have no sense of how to see the dream fulfilled.
PREPARING FOR EXECUTING THE VISION
The first part of accomplishing any vision is to take it from the unseen world and bring it into the natural realm. This can be accomplished by simply writing down the vision. Articulating the vision on paper pulls the dream that is in your spirit (that no one can see but you) into the visible world so that others can capture it in their own hearts. Tools that help to visualize the mission such as architectural drawings, models, testimonies of others who have accomplished similar dreams, or visits to places that have a common purpose are all helpful in capturing and defining the vision for both yourself and others who will come alongside and help.
Then the LORD answered me and said, ‘Record the vision and inscribe it on tablets, that the one who reads it may run. For the vision is yet for the appointed time; it hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; for it will certainly come, it will not delay – Habakkuk 2:2-3
Who do you think will do the best quality work and be the hardest worker? Vision causes people to love their work because they can see the big picture. Someone once said, “If you want to build a great ship, you can go out and find some talented craftsman or you can find a person who loves the sea.” Imparting God’s vision to the team around us is the single most important factor in seeing the mission accomplished.
CREATE A PLAN TO ACCOMPLISH THE VISION
“Without consultation, plans are frustrated, but with many counselors they succeed; the plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD” Proverbs 15:22; 16:1
From these two verses we see that although the vision must be from God Himself, men are to help develop the plan that brings about the fulfillment of the vision. Notice how Solomon highlights the fact that developing plans in a vacuum, (without the expertise and insight of others who have different gifts and perspectives than we do), will ultimately end in frustration.
It’s important for administrative people to understand that they are there to administrate the mission. The word administrate means, “add-to-the-mission,” not change the mission. Visionaries often do not like to work with administrators because by nature administrators are refiners and finishers. Sometimes administrators do not understand that they are being brought in to help visionaries determine how something should be accomplished, not what should be accomplished. If the vision is so large that it requires the help of Heaven (which it often does when it really is from God), it will be important that the visionary impart the vision and the faith to see it accomplished to the team. First Timothy 1:4 says that the administration of God is “by faith.”
FEAR COUNTERACTS FAITH
People often disguise their fear as wisdom when they enter into a supernatural mission that can only be accomplished with the help of God. Moses had this problem when he sent the twelve spies in to the Promised Land to determine where they should enter. Ten of the spies misunderstood their mission and somehow thought they were being asked whether or not they should take the land at all.
This type of misunderstanding of the roles people are invited to play in the mission has caused the demise of so many would-be miracles, paralyzing the church of the living God. For years, the people of God have often settled for what can be accomplished by human effort and ability, because we have allowed the opinion of faithless people to determine what we will achieve, instead of being faithful (faith-filled) to the vision we saw “on the mountain”. This is a perversion of the gospel of the kingdom. We should never settle for anything less than what God told us to do.
After the plan is established, goals must be set. The Bible says:
“I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” Philippians 3:14
Goals are simply the vision broken down into smaller pieces that are measurable in time and space. In other words, they are specified parts of the mission that we will accomplish by a predetermined date. Many people don’t like to set goals because they think that if they are not able to accomplish them on time, they have failed. The truth of the matter is that, “If you fail to plan you plan to fail.” Great leaders know that setting goals is what gives the mission a sense of urgency. Urgency is a friend to managers as it sets the pace for those who are carrying out the mission.
If wisdom is used in goal setting, very little management is needed to motivate the workers since urgency manages them. However, be careful not to give your workers more to do than they have the faith to accomplish in a given time period. If it is too much, they will not even try, just like trying to catch a bus when it is already a block ahead. You probably won’t even run after it, as there is so little possibility of you catching up to it. On the other hand, if the bus just starts to pull away from the curb when you get there, you will probably move out of your comfort zone to try to catch it. Yet, setting goals too low will not create a sense of urgency at all. People will not be very motivated and it will result in a lot more work for the managers.
The final stage of seeing the mission accomplished is establishing your steps.
“The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps” Proverbs 16:9
“The steps of a man are established by the Lord, and He delights in his way. When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong, because the Lord is the one who holds his hand” Psalms 37:23-24.
Steps are your day-in, day-out walk with God: the step-by-step, moment-by-moment, hour-by-hour decisions you make and the things you do that take up your time and use up your life. When your vision is honestly birthed by God Himself, He will be delighted to direct your steps. The most important thing to remember about your steps is that they should be found somewhere in your mission. Go back through your planner from the previous month and retrace your steps. Does it look like they are directly attached to your mission? If not, either redefine your mission or redirect your steps. Remember, history is at stake.
WHAT CAN YOUR VISION DO?
A. Your vision gives purpose and adds meaning to your life (Phil. 1:21). While it is true that you won’t accomplish all your personal dreams, having a vision will at least help you realize some of the things you want to do for the glory of God. Note that a true vision cannot be self-serving or self-centered!
B. Your vision will help you have a sense of direction and fulfillment as you work your way to your dreams. When you put yourself in advance to the future, you’ll be energized by your dreams (Rom. 4:18). In spite of hardships, you’ll possess joy, peace and hope as you press towards your goal (Rom. 8:24).
C. Your vision will help you endure and sacrifice to make your dream come true. Great achievements are born out of great sacrifice. No Pain, No Gain! No Guts. No Glory! (Phil. 3:13-14).
EXAMPLES OF MEN OF VISION IN THE BIBLE
1. NEHEMIAH. Nehemiah 1:11; 2:1-18; 4:1-8; 6:15-16! Notice how Nehemiah’s vision begins, develops, includes, and then how it involves others for clarification and confirmation! How does Nehemiah’s Vision compare with yours? What do you need to work on?
2. MOSES. He worked with the word “see that you build the tabernacle according to the pattern that was shown to you on the Mount”
3. JEREMIAH Jer. 1:8-12. God promised him “I will hasten my word to perform it” [Word is vision].
PRESENTING THE VISION TO YOUR CO LABORERS OR CONGREGATION
Vision filled leaders must empower their co laborers or congregation to accept it, live it, and serve in it! It means they must preach on the passage of the vision with power and conviction; have people understand the vision fully and ask questions where they do not understand. We must not over-flog vision but keep the focus on the care and love for the people.
For a vision to work, it has to be “owned or thoroughly accepted” by the congregation. This is accomplished by educating them on God’s call through scripture, your process, prayer, patience, and encouragement. Sell the vision to your pastors, groups, departmental leaders as much as possible so they can do the field work by influencing the congregation and modelling the vision before them. They must positively present it in person, in Sunday school, departmental levels and in the services.
Having as many people as possible contribute to the Vision process will enable the congregation in accepting, conceiving and shaping the vision. Even though it may come solely from the pastor, people need to feel it is theirs too! The input of others will help you focus, and consider the various options, adjustments and needs!
Make sure you write it out short, clear, and in vivid language so someone who has never seen it will understand it. Have people outside your church look it over for clarity. If a stranger who does not know you or your church can understand and run with it, you may have a winner! Make sure people feel they are a part of the process! A vision cannot just pop out of a pastor’s office on Monday and be active on Sunday! We must give the people time to ingest, understand and walk with it.
Are you and the leaders perceived as modelling the Vision for others? You have to walk the walk, not just talk the talk! The people must see you take steps to model what you said the Lord instructs the Church to do. Settle any ongoing conflicts quickly and completely. New changes will only temporarily halt the strife, and if not taken care of, it will rise up again! Listen to the people if they question part of the vision and be able to answer feedback positively.
Importunate and continuous prayers, and the atmosphere spiced with humility, love and giving ear to hear wisdom from others are some of the keys to balancing problems and mindsets. Did you take time to encourage, recognize, reward, and celebrate your leaders, co-laborers and congregation?
Be encouraged in the Lord, every godly vision shall come to pass; though it tarries, it shall surely come to pass at God’s appointed time. You have need of patience after you believe the vision and done the will of God. It takes patient continuance in the work at hand and faith in God to birth forth the vision.