The Vision Statement

All my professional life the question I dreaded being asked most was, “What’s your vision?” In my early days of leading congregations, people would ask, “What’s your vision for this church?” My vision statement would have been something like “I want to love God, hear His heart, worship Him passionately, and pray that a lot of people will follow behind me and do the same thing.” I just didn’t have anything profound to tell them. Sometimes I would even fake it and give them something I’d read on another church’s brochure. Now come on…I know some of you out there have done the same thing.

Karen says my nose flairs out, my tone of voice changes, and I get this little “whistle” in my C’s and S’s when I talk about serious ministry stuff. “Well, we’re going to start a cell ministry and train our leaders to disciple one-on-one. I see us reaching 100,000 people by the year 2015. And, oh yes, God is definitely calling us to be a church growth leader in our region, and of course, the Lord has confirmed to me that I’ll be a pastor’s pastor. And that’s the vision.” Did you hear the “whistle” when you read that?

I realize that in admitting my weakness I may lose every ounce of respect from people under my leadership or those who benefit from my speaking and writing ministry. But— I’m just wondering, is there another leader out there who struggles with the “vision statement thing”? My “inspire and motivate them to passionately worship God and follow Him” approach just doesn’t carry much finesse. Again, I’m asking, “Is there anyone else who struggles with creating a spiffy vision statement?”

Don’t get me wrong, my internal radar has always possessed vision. Without it, Solomon says, “We perish” (Pro. 29:18). On my computer, I’ve listed my vision on the desktop so when I boot it up “vision” is the first thing I see. I call it, “My Vision.” Creative, huh? Works for me, though.

“My Vision” includes everything from my devotion to God to the kind of car Karen drives. I’ve listed vision for my health, finances, retirement, speaking engagements, houses, and my income. I include Karen’s picture and our marriage, what I want my church to look like, and the books I want to write. Vision is not a problem. Making a memorable statement about it is. I’ve actually prayed that I’ll die with a list of unfinished tasks. On the other hand, I just don’t have what it takes to state it with flamboyance. Oh to be an Andy Stanley, the Visioneering guru himself! But I’m not. I’m me.

Moses also had a terrible vision statement, you know. He constantly had followers asking him, “Pastor Mo, where are we going? What’s your vision for us? What has God shown you? What’s the plan?” To which, Moses would reply, “See that cloud over there,” pointing skyward. “When it moves, we pack up and follow it. That unusual fireball that hovers over us after nightfall? If it moves, even in the middle of the night, pack up and go after it.” That was it. That was Moses’ vision statement, and when followed, they were on course toward the Promised Land. Imagine that over forty years all they did was follow the cloud when it moved. That was the mission and the vision.

Today, such a statement will get the response, “Poor guy. Just doesn’t know how to lead an organization.” I’ve known internationally respected men who had vision for billion dollar organizations, but saw nothing for their own family. You see, leading living organisms (families, natural and spiritual) requires a different vision than leading business organizations. Both are valuable, you just need to know where they fit in and not confuse them.

But the kingpin of them all is Paul. His vision statement floors me. Here it is:
"And now I am bound by the Spirit to go to Jerusalem. I don't know what awaits me, except that the Holy Spirit tells me in city after city that jail and suffering lie ahead. But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.” (Acts 20:22-24, NLT)
This is what Paul sees for his ministry. He’s going to Jerusalem. Along the way he’s going to be telling people about the grace of God. That’s it.

If this were a modern day vision statement, Paul has a lot of blanks to fill in. (1) He admits that he doesn’t know what to expect. (2) What he does know from the Holy Spirit is not encouraging…at all! (3) He acknowledges he will suffer. (4) Except for preaching the good news of grace, Paul doesn’t appear very “success driven.”

Basically, Paul says, “I’m going to preach. But I don’t think they’ll like what they hear and I’ll probably get put in prison or killed.” Talk about a lack of vision, not to mention, such a negative confession! You’ll never see this vision statement on the opening page of a website or on the foyer wall of a business. But on the other hand, it’s rare to see someone with this kind of commitment, ready to die for a poorly stated vision.

I have life goals that I want fulfilled before I die. But I can’t go about fulfilling them in a “business-plan-kind-of-way.” Business plans are good for businesses. A life needs something deeper. A Christian life must go deeper still.

A couple of years ago I asked God about my purpose, the vision He had for me when my Mom and Dad conceived me. What was God thinking on February 8, 1956 when I arrived on the planet? How I sensed God answer my question became my personal vision statement, so to speak. Along with "My Vision," I also keep this statement on the desktop of my computer. I see it every day. I want to live it out and fulfill it. If I do I’m sure I’ll accomplish God’s vision for my life. It says,
“God’s purpose for me is to live a life of significance for God, my wife, my family, and others—and to teach them to do the same.”
This is as nifty as it gets. I realize it has a lot of blanks. But then, so did Moses’ and Paul’s, and after all said and done, they turned out okay.

What’s your vision? It doesn’t really matter how you say it, just make sure you KNOW IT and DO IT.

1 comment:

  1. Felicia BarringerFriday, October 16, 2009

    I got something from Him a while back about the Body, including myself, and it was this: "The Church has majored on minor things." He then began to show me that we've invested more time and energy on things like websites, blogs, outreach ministries (that really only reach in), ministry administration, writing and revising and revising and revising...etc... He showed me these things are important but that they are not the meat of His ministry. They are the minor things that the enemy has tempted us to major on, so much so, that it has become our major and main investment, but will yield--if left by itself--only minor results.

    Jesus said in John 4, "My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me and to finish His work." How's that for fancy? So, in reversing the cycle of majoring on minor things, I am learning to seek Him for "The Bible"--what Jesus sees for me--to be completed in me--a living vision that IS a statement instead of a written vision that makes a statement.

    Hopefully, others will be encouraged by your post as well. If you don't have it all figured out yet on paper, you're in good company. Who knows? Maybe it will be revealed, live and in person, before you can get it "just right" on the black and white :)

    Keep pressing in to His Vision! :)