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 …
“Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Proverbs 29:18
I love Zechariah 8. It is a beautiful picture of how God gives His people a vision of what is to come, so that they will be encouraged and motivated.
That is what God-given vision does for a church. When a leader is able to hear from God and then paint a vivid picture of the future, i.e., a clear image of what could be, the people are suddenly much more capable of working toward that end. The vision of the distant future (e.g., 5 years out) gives hope. The vision of the intermediate future (e.g., next year) gives perseverance. But it is the vision of the immediate future (e.g., next week) which motivates us to take our next step. All three levels of vision are important for different reasons.
Casting vision for the immediate future (e.g., next week) is a little like the arrows on the bowling lanes. It may feel intimidating to aim at something far away (like a 5-year plan for a church), but aiming at something nearby (like next week) seems do-able. So, good vision-casting includes not only the encouragement of a picture several years down the road, but the motivation of a picture we can accomplish for next week.
Churches around the world are struggling with unity because they do not have a working vision of what true Biblical unity looks like in the church. The New Testament is filled with those pictures but, for some reason, we have not always done a good job of putting those pictures in front of our people. Churches often don’t really know what genuinely healthy relationships are supposed to look like. Our people think that unity means not having any disagreements or being silent when …