Vision: Catchphrase or Critical?
Businesses and churches alike talk a lot about vision these days. The visionary leader is a treasure that every business or organization hopes to have. However, vision is more of a general concept than a positive good or bad. I might have a vision to paint every building in the world green, but that might not make for a better world. How do we evaluate vision and its connection to the other important qualities and aspects of leadership?
In Ezekiel 40-43, God gives Ezekiel a vision of the future temple. The first temple had been destroyed because of widespread sin and rebellion against God. After giving Ezekiel the plan for the new temple, God says this to Him:
“Son of man, describe the temple to the people of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their sins. Let them consider its perfection, and if they are ashamed of all they have done, make known to them the design of the temple—its arrangement, its exits and entrances—its whole design and all its regulations and laws.”
I think the vision of the temple in general, and these words in particular, have a couple of important lessons for us to consider:
- Vision requires preparation. We see from the passage above that the temple vision was to be shared with the people if they expressed shame for their sins. Until the people were sufficiently sorry for their past rejection of God’s purposes, they could not genuinely value the vision. We must first be dissatisfied with the way things are before we value the idea of change.
- Vision is a blessing. The description of the temple is valuable. You can feel from the way God speaks about it, to receive this vision is clearly meant to be a blessing. Vision is important, because until we can picture the future, we cannot meaningfully work toward it. Not only that, the vision of a good future is a fountain of energizing joy that empowers work in a way that would otherwise be impossible. If the people receive the picture of this future, it will carry a seed to make it a reality.
- Vision is one component of success. To hit a target, we must know what we are aiming at. However, an archer will tell you that the desire to strike the center bullseye is the beginning, not the end of the project. Discipline, patience, humility, and faithfulness are all essential. As a friend of mine has said, habits eat goals for breakfast. We must have vision, but also develop the habits that help bring that vision a little bit closer to reality every day.
- We should desire God’s Vision for the World. There are many other visions that compete with God in the world. Having vision is not the same as having God’s vision. Imagine a beach full of sandcastles — when the tide of God’s providence sweeps in, all the sandcastle visions of the world will be swept away and only His sturdy rocks will remain. Those who want to build lasting structures would do well to ask God for His blueprint!
In summary, we do need vision. We should pray for God’s vision – it is His gift. Then, when God enables us to see a picture of the future that pleases Him, we should pray again — and labor to cultivate those faithful habits which make the vision come to life.