Vision is about destination.
It speaks to where you and the organization you lead are ultimately heading over a period of time. Using a football metaphor, vision is the end zone.
When we mention vision, some leaders perk up. Others clam up. A few want to throw up. Some ask: “Can’t I just show up and preach every Sunday and call it good?”
Vision can be intimidating, because it’s a leadership muscle that often atrophies due to lack of use. But a clear, compelling, mouthwatering picture of the “end zone” brings so many good qualities to a church or a business, that it’s worth developing the visioning muscle!
Vision matters. Here’s why:
Vision helps your organization get aligned
Michael Hyatt points out that you can’t get alignment without something to align to. Vision is that “something.” It is an organization’s north star. When the pandemic hit in 2020 and we couldn’t go anywhere, Laura and I decided to work on a jigsaw puzzle. Many times, during that project, we found ourselves thankful for the picture of the completed puzzle on the box cover. When we felt stuck, looking at that picture helped us move forward. Without that picture, completing the puzzle would have been much more challenging.
Vision helps us put the pieces together for the organization we lead. It helps us get unstuck when we feel like our organizational feet are caught in a mud-pit.
Vision is a filter for decision-making
Karl Vaters told me once, “Most small churches are too complicated.” I would add that most churches are too complicated, regardless of their size. A clear destination tells us where we’ll put our resources—time, energy, dollars . . . and where we won’t. Who we’ll hire and fire. What programs we’ll start and which ones we’ll stop. In a world with too many choices, vision helps us choose well.
Vision creates energy and momentum
Let’s use churches as an example. More than a few pastors have complained to me that the church they lead doesn’t have enough people stepping up to serve. My response often is, “What is your vision for the church?” If they answer vaguely, it’s not hard to figure out why they have a “people-serving” problem. A compelling vision is a magnet that draws people to join your team. To commit to the cause. To roll up their sleeves and work.
Let me quote Michael Hyatt again: “When we lead with vision, we’re doing something that makes people move from renters to owners.” Hyatt goes on to tell the story of a custodian who worked for NASA in the 1960s, in the middle of the quest to fulfill John F. Kennedy’s vision of putting a man on the moon and returning him safely by the end of the decade. This custodian was asked, “What’s it like to mop floors at NASA?” He replied, “I’m not mopping floors . . . I’m helping to put a man on the moon.”
Vision connects the dots between everyday tasks and a mouthwatering picture of a preferred destination. The better the connection, the more organizational energy is released in laser-like fashion.
Let me share just a few vision-starters to get your creative juices flowing:
- Vision answers three questions:
- What problem are we trying to solve?
- What will it look like if we succeed in solving that problem?
- Why does solving the problem matter?
- Set aside the how for a while—focus on the where.
- Stand in the future – use your imagination. Locate yourself in the future. What do you want? What does it look like? Write it down, let it stew for a bit, and then tweak it accordingly.
- Share with your team—preferably those members of the team that have visionary bents—and have them provide feedback.
Of course, there is more to developing and casting vision than these four idea-igniters, but they’ll help you get started.
The church or business you lead needs you to cast vision. To paint a compelling picture of an achievable future. To help your team see the “end-zone.”
You may be wondering how far out you should be looking. That is a great question. The answer is “it depends.” Most churches we interact with who are serious about vision are currently looking ahead two-three years. You’ll have to figure out what timeframe works for your context.
If you find yourself not sure where to start or feeling stuck in the process, we’re here to serve you. We have experts who can help you figure out the “vision thing.”
Rooting and praying for you to have a vision-filled 2023,