January 5, 2009

Thoughts on Vision

As a pastor, lots of people talk to me about the vision they have for their life, business, mate, ministry, and life in general.  I can now lump these into three categories:

Pragmatic:  These are the folks who have taken a serious stock of their abilities, their liabilities, their past and a reasonable future.  They figure what a preferable future is and triangulate from where they are to that future and come up with a goal.  They then work hard and achieve that goal.  These folks attract the admiration of those around them for being industrious.  Though they do not operate in any faith, they are taking on the world with their own abilities abilities.

They may speak of vision but they are really speaking of goals and they stay up late into the night dreaming how they are going to make their goal come to life and pray that God helps them achieve the goal they have set.  The pragmatic visionary is a blessing to the church because of their work ethic and the pastor is happy to see them any time except the annual business meeting when he is casting vision.The focus of the pragmatic is always the effort it takes to reach goals.  They are hard workers and self-starters.

Most likely place to find the pragmatic visionary:  Hyper-cessationist blogs, self-help publishing, arguing with the pastor about next year’s goals and budget.

Pure Fantasy:  I hear a ton of these “visions.”  They breed this type of visionary in churches that propagate youth group theology.  One YGT tenant reads that any logic is doubt.  God is waiting for bold steps and bold proclamations they say.  The fantasy visionaries believe that their future is only limited to the words they speak despite their efforts and actions.  Every one of the visions they cast would only make them bigger stars.

Though they say they are operating in the realm of faith they are really operating in the realm of fiction.  God never spoke any of the promises they claim yet they declare it to be the work of the devil when their vision does not come to pass.They do not notice that nobody ever asks about their vision because nobody really believes in their ability to hear God.  These are the folks who won’t witness in Walgreen’s but tell you about the 10,000 person crusades they are going to have.  They won’t keep a job but they are going to be millionaires.  Their lives are messed up but they are going to marry the big Christian music star, church worship leader, singles pastor etc.  They get the lofty goals but never seem to get the steps that these goals will take to reach.

Most likely place to find the pure fantasy visionary:  Outside the traditional church telling people how your pastor does not “get it,” church guest reception telling you how awesome they were in their last church, home church meeting discussing pagan Christianity, church planter conferences.

Mature Biblical Vision: These are the folks that I like to be around.  Real faith requires risk, and there is only risk if you have something to lose.  Unlike the pragmatic types, their visions rarely lead to greater security.  Unlike the fantasy type, their vision does not hinge on their fame.

The MBV has a storehouse of things they can risk because they have been hard at work following God.  Chief among their possessions is a good reputation.  They don’t risk it on a whim.  They don’t idolize it either.  They learn from the past at what God has done in the lives of those who follow Him.  They learn from their own life how God uses them.  They attune their ear to the voices God has placed in their life to give them guidance and they do not despise correction they view it as direction.

Most likely place to find Mature Biblical Visionaries:  Christianity history books, the founders of your denomination, church planter conferences.
I cast a vision for The Mission this past week that I hope was a mature biblical vision. God spoke some words to me that I was a little hesitant to share. I knew that when I shared them, one day people would see if I was right about this year.  I stood up and told people where we are going and now people are going to be judging our progress.  If I am right, God gets glory, the Kingdom gets expanded, people come into their calls.

This year, purpose in your heart to discern the voice of God and hear the steps it will take to see His plan come to fruition.  Did last year seem like a visionary failure?  It may be that you missed one of the critical steps of vision. Receive the vision, submit to counsel, take the necessary steps, judge the fruit.

7 responses to Thoughts on Vision

  1. :) You pretty much nailed it, had me flashing back to my youth pastor days and some of meetings. Thanks for sharing this.

    Peace

  2. I wish it ended in youth group. Folks go through life with no greater depth of knowledge than they got in high school.

    thanks for reading.

  3. Thanks to technology and recording devices it makes it a whole lot easier for people to hold you accountable for those “visionary” moments. I laid some out as a part of our state of the church address and really some of them sound a little like a fantasy. It is certainly one of those time will tell things but the one piece that is often time ommitted is that you have to do some of the work involved. Vision can mean getting your hands dirty. It also means getting other people to buy in and be willing to get to work with you. (Much easier said than done)

    Another issue is that we take the scripture that “God will give you the desires of your heart” and claim our desires as vision. We have a tendancy to emphasize the 2nd half of that verse instead of the first half. When you submit your self to God, His desires become your desires, His passions become your passions, His vision becomes your vision…

  4. To me, the key phrase regarding fantasy (if I may quote myself) is that “God never spoke it.”

    You have to check a person’s fruit. Do they have a history of follow through? Or does “God” send them into a new direction every other week?

    God does miraculous things through really messed up people. But He is never confused about what it is He wants to do. God does not change His mind about a person’s mate once a month. He does not get confused about which continent He is going to make someone famous.

    Just some thoughts

  5. That was really good…. God spoke to me through that.

    Surrending your will completly to God. Do people really get that meaning? People may hear God and not like what he said. So to stroke their ego they just make them selves believe God has changed his mind, so they have this false truth , that it wasnt them but God. If we surrender our will entirely . I mean everything. Then when you do hear God, you remind your self that he has you in mind. Then faith and trust kicks in . People wont be afraid or even get lazy to follow through because they know that God wants good for those who love him and called all of us to live a life more abundtly. So for me , its laying down my being, all of my mind and plans and thoughts. So i dont get mixed up in fanatasy but get caught up in A pure mature bibical vision for my life.

    P.S. If it doesnt line up with the word or nature Of Christ he propbly never said it.

    • Amen. We all want to live lives that give glory to Jesus and not only getting our lives in order but portraying a life connected to God is essential. Thanks for joining the conversation.

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