Vision: a picture of the future that produces passion (Bill Hybels)
Vision is a frustrating topic. I have a vivid memory of the frustration that can be caused by this word. I was speaking at a church retreat and had just rambled for about 45 minutes on the importance of vision. As I walked around during the "reflection time," I noticed someone looking very puzzled. I walked over to her, and she said desperately, "I want a vision. How do I get a vision?"
Uh...(a few moments of awkward silence) The truth is...I didn't have a clue. I knew vision was important, but I did not know how to guide her to get it. So she was frustrated. And now I was frustrated. As far as I knew, vision just "happened."
Here is one thing I have realized- vision comes more naturally to some than others. I am a daydreamer. When I was five, I dreamed of becoming the first female in Major League Baseball. When I was in 4th grade, I envisioned a "human video" of Carman's The Champion that would set the world on fire to follow Christ. In high school, I dreamed of working with NASA to design a lunar-based space station. Just a few years ago, I designed an entire theme park during lunch.
Vision comes naturally to some of us.
But here is the second thingI have learned: Just because vision comes naturally does not necessarily mean that the vision is from God (as clearly evidenced by some of the things you read above).
In this post, I am going to share some things that can help ignite passionate vision in our lives. But first, I want to talk to those who have vision pouring out of the ears.
I think those of us who "get vision" may sometimes have a harder time with spiritual vision because our own aspirations and dreams can cloud the path that God wants us to follow. Isaiah 55:8-9 says, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."
So how do we capture God thoughts? That's really what vision is-- catching a piece of the heart of God and personalizing it according to your unique gifts, passions, and circumstances. How do we think God's thoughts and envision a future that produces passion in others?
Now, both the dreamers and the realists are all starting at the same place. We want God vision, not vision of our own making. There is no formula. And I certainly don't have a lot of answers. But I will share a few things I have learned.
First, we need intimacy with God. We cannot think God's thoughts if we are not spending time with him. Think about some of the most powerful visions in the Bible. Acts 10 describes the vision that catalyzed the spread of the Gospel to the gentiles. Would we be following Christ today had Peter not taken the time to be with God and see that sheet of unclean animals? That vision sparked a meeting with Cornelius which in turn fueled the spread of Christianity outside the borders of Judaism. Or think about Paul in Acts 16 and the vision of the man from Macedonia asking for help.
Vision comes in times of intimacy with God. We need to be close to God. And we need to come with no agenda. Peter and Paul didn't sit down and say, "Okay, God, let's have a vision brainstorming meeting." They were just walking day-by-day in deepening relationship with God. And God gave them visions that altered the course of history.
Secondly, we need to examine our own history with God. How has God worked in your life in the past? What brought you to Christ? What have been some of the major turning points in your spiritual life? The answers to those questions may be the keys to unlocking God's vision for you as a leader.
If your life was revolutionized in a small group, then you may be passionate about discipleship. If you came to Christ as the result of an evangelistic crusade, you might be passionate about evangelism. If someone close to you was healed, you might be passionate about prayer and miraculous gifts.
God has worked in your life in a unique way for a reason. Looking back over your history with God may produce keys to help you see the road ahead.
In the Bible, we see constant reminders of "history." In Hebrews, we read a who's who list of the faithful. The book of Deuteronomy is basically the same book as Leviticus. In Deuteronomy, Moses is re-issues the law to the second generation of Israelites who will possess the Promised Land. But the tone is different. In Deuteronomy, Moses tells the story of God's faithfulness to the new generation so they will know who they are, whose they are, where they are going, why they are going there, and what they are supposed to do once they get there.
History is the key to unlocking destiny.
Next, we need to be in community with visionaries. As we discussed last week, people with vision are contagious. If you want to be a person of vision, just get around people with big vision. Read people who have big vision. Get involved in a big vision.
Finally, we need creativity. This actually takes us all the way back to the beginning-- we need intimacy with God. If we want to dream God-sized dreams, then we must have creative margin in our lives. It is impossible to think outside the box within the structure and pressures of day-to-day life. We must be intentional about setting aside some time to pray big prayers and to listen to God. We need time to pray big idea prayers, hear clearly from God, and then wait for God to stretch that idea.
Before we wrap up, two big warnings. One, make sure your vision is consistent with Scripture. Two, get feedback from wise counsel.
Next week, we will explore some ways to communicate your vision.