Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember? Mark 8:17-18
Where there is no vision, the people perish… Proverbs 29:18
I sometimes wonder if we in the church are guilty at times of confusing “leadership vision” with “ambition”?
It seems to me we place a great deal of pressure on our shepherds with regard to “vision”. We expect even our newest pastor to have a 5-year plan for where we are headed just as soon as we get him in the office. I have even heard of one pastor search team asking a prospective candidate what his “five-year vision” is for their church. Oh my! How would he know that? In fact, I would be wary of anyone who claimed to know before he had even set foot among the congregation.
Pastoral vision (i.e., leadership vision for the church), it seems to me, has much less to do with entrepreneurial foresight and ambitious goals and much more to do with actually seeing what God has been doing and what He is doing right now in the life of a congregation. It is not so much casting my eyes out on the vast horizon before us as it is casting my eyes across the lives of the people I am leading and understanding what God is doing there.
Jesus did not shame his disciples for not being smarter venture capitalists or for not having keen insights into the trends of the day. He did not rebuke them for failing to see what was coming or even for not anticipating the needs of the …
“If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” Mark 8:38
So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord… 2 Timothy 1:8
There is a lot of talk these days about “being the church” and about missional people and about moving “church” outside the walls of our church buildings. I love all that talk. I agree with it! But sometimes it feels to me like a lot of talk but very little actual implementation. Sometimes it feels to me like “the church” knows it should be moving in that direction but does not really want to move in that direction. It is, after all, very different from what our traditional churches have grown comfortable becoming.
One of the “tweaks” I think might help us is to re-think our criteria for choosing leadership in the church. Doesn’t our list of qualities for “leaders” among God’s people resemble pretty closely the qualities for leadership in the secular world? We look for charisma, competence, a good track record, good communication skills, and then, of course, we add spiritual qualifications like prayer and discernment. But would you also agree that, in most cases, we are looking for people who have “wowed” us with their presence and skills inside the church? I do see the merit in that…in order for them to be influential among God’s people, they definitely must have a testimony inside the church. But if we are trying to shift our culture from being overly inward-focused to being more outward-focused, shouldn’t we be looking for leaders who already have that mindset? If we are wanting to move toward “being the …