In my last post I ventured into the topic of vision and discussed the first of five important aspects of it for pastors, that of receiving vision. I explained how that receiving vision is as easy as desire. But, the problem with visionary desires at the conception stage is that they’re not always entirely clear. Just as there are times when we have a [carnal] desire to eat but cannot necessarily figure out what it is that we’d like to eat. The specifics of the desire are often indistinct and the details of the vision unclear, which leads us this time to the second aspect of vision.
2. Developing Vision
I’m sure you’ve experienced the aforementioned scenario before? For my wife and I it seems to be a regular occurrence that looks something like this…
I’m really hungry”
“What would you like to eat?”
“I don’t know?”
“Do you want Italian?”
So it goes as we hone the desire from the general to the specific. This is the refining stage of visionary desire and is a very important aspect of developing vision.
As I mentioned previously, vision is not always entirely clear. In this development phase it is important for visionary leaders to gather around themselves others with whom the can explain and cast the vision so as to refine the raw materials of it. Such sounding boards must be comprised of the kind of individuals that are able to handle the abstract and not be bothered by initial ambiguity. In this process the visionary desire is pared down from a wide 90° spread to 80°, then 60° and 45°, on down to a fairly focused visionary plan. Most often is takes place through a prayerful interrogative process.
I find that this development phase can be easily overlooked or under-engaged. If either one happens a vision can be wholly short circuited at this point. Refining a vision is a must, but many times leaders that are uncertain or lack confidence will not allow themselves or their vision to be scrutinized. It is important to recognize that as you subject your vision to the interrogation and scrutiny of others, you may not necessarily have perfect answers for every question. It is the question itself and the process of discovering an answer to it — with the help of your team — that will rein in and refine the vision.
At the close of every calendar year I begin proactively seeking The Lord’s vision for our church in the new year. Sometimes that vision is drawn from a verse or passage of scripture, at other times (like this coming year) it is as simple as one word. For 2012 our vision was “Enjoying God’s Grace and Extending His Glory.” My desire and vision for our church in the new year is simply “Reflect.” In many conversations with pastors and leaders in our fellowship I share the desire (i.e. vision) of reflecting God in both local and global contexts, and we ask the question, “what would it look like to be reflections of Christ in the context of local outreach, or men’s ministry, youth, young adults or foreign missions? As we do so the vision is reduced from general to specific.
Ultimately our pastoral team gathers for a 2 to 3 day getaway in the end of every year at which we pull together the specific details of our vision and plan for the new year. It is through this process of vision development that we are able to write the vision making it plain and essentially ready for the next step, impartation/communication.
A few more key considerations are helpful at this point. First, know your rhythms. Each of us have a different cadence or pulse. This is true as it relates to how we approach our day, week or year. As a result there are times throughout these cycles where we are more apt to catch creative current. By recognizing what our rhythms are we can take full advantage of them more effectively.
Secondly, know and understand your strengths and weaknesses. I highly recommend Gallup’s Strengthsfinder for this. If your strong in the areas of Stretgic and Ideation, then make sure you make time for solitary idea development. But, also make sure that you work to your strengths and delegate your weaknesses. Surround yourself with co-leaders who complement your abilities and you theirs. People like myself that are strong with strategic ideas need Arrangers, Activators and Deliberative Developers around them. Never feel threatened by co-leaders who are strong where you are weak, rather strive for effective communication coordination of tasks to best suit strengths.
Finally, vision often seems bigger than our capacity or ability to facilitate it. Don’t be discouraged by big vision or expansive obstacles. It can be frustrating to have such vision, until you recognize God’s timing and abundant resources. Be faithful to develop the vision you receive of Him and He will supply what is lacking.