Recently I came across a video blog by Phil Strout talking about qualities found in successful leaders. In those videos I found some principles that I have always believed concerning vision. So I wanted to pass along to you those biblical insights about vision so you too can implement these principles in your life and ministry.
The book of Proverbs states in chapter 29 this statement.
18 Where there is no vision, the people perish:
Now I could go on and on about how people need vision and that leaders need to instill vision but in all honesty most of the time it is not that people don't have vision but that they are not empowered to carry out their vision. So this article is about the biblical insights about vision that I have learned over the last 33 years of being a believer in Jesus.
INSIGHT #1 - EMPOWER OTHERS AND YOU WILL BE EMPOWERED
Early in my ministry I was very bad about getting a vision and then chasing after it only to realize that I was not leading anyone else behind me. Everyone was standing back where I started looking at me and question where the heck I was going. The problem was that although I had a vision, I had not set the stage to be able to ask others to help me accomplish that vision.
The first thing that a good leader and visionary has to learn is that they have to invest into the lives of others and help others accomplish their vision before you can ask them to help you accomplish yours. This is accomplished by not using people to build your ministry but instead using your ministry to build people.
You see, the model that I had seen for years was different pastors trying to recruit people to fill positions in their ministry. They were trying to build some big ministry for God. Now I believe that their motive was honorable. They were trying to serve God but they were doing it with the world's methods. Unfortunately this method very rarely works.
Instead of looking for people to fill positions, listen to people and what they are passionate about. Find out what their vision is and then use your gifts and abilities to help them accomplish that vision. If they are gifted musically then make room for them in the worship team. Teach them what you know, then turn it over to them. Let them fail, let them do things different than you, and always encourage. When you do that, you will have done something that not very many others are willing to do. You will have believed in them. When you do that, they will believe in you.
INSIGHT #2 - WHATEVER IT TAKES
If you are ever going to accomplish your vision, you are going to have to remove some words from your vocabulary. The word "can't" and the word "no" have to be removed. Those words have to be replaced with the words "whatever it takes." You will never overcome the obstacles that will inevitably come your way if you allow the word "can't" to influence your thinking.
When I was young, my father used to always say to me, "can't never did anything." When I was young I hated that saying but now as I have grown older and have more experience in my life, I find his words were true. I never would have returned to ministry if I had allowed "can't" to influence my thinking. It took 8 years and over 180 rejection letters before I saw that vision become a reality.
If I had allowed the word "can't" to influence my thinking, this website would never have come into existence and the 1/2 million people per year that visit it, would never have been blessed. If I had allowed "can't" to influence my thinking, then I never would have started my first church or my second one. If I allowed "can't" to tell me what was possible, then I the church I now pastor would not be turning into the church without borders. Remember Jesus said.....
But Jesus looked at them and said to them, "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
The same goes for the word "no." No is the biggest de-motivator that people can hear. When they come to you and express an idea to you about how they can get involved and serve God, the last word a good leader wants to use is no. Use it too many times and you will have a church of pew sitters and sermon critics.
Think about it. When you get enough guts to share with someone an idea you have, you would not be sharing it unless you think it is a good idea. Nobody sets out to share bad ideas. So when your people come to you and share with you an idea, they think it is a good idea. A good leader realizes this and goes out of his way to help the person become successful in their idea rather than shoot it down with a no. If you are a pastor or a spiritual leader in your church, understand that when you say no, the person who you are saying no to hears it as the no is coming from God since you are God's representative.
Instead of saying no, find ways to say yes! Even if you think it is a bad idea or it will not work, do not stifle their enthusiasm or passion. Even if later it turns out that it was a bad idea or did not work, laugh about it. Praise them for wanting to try and the effort they put into it. When you do, you remove the fear of failure that many people have and they will keep trying until they find something that does work. All of a sudden you will have an activated church member and leader who is doing something successful. It will never happen if you say no. I try to pay attention to how many times I say no. I try to say yes at least 10 times before I ever say no.
When people come to you with an idea or a vision, be the type of person that says we will do "whatever it takes" to see this idea be successful. If you have a whatever it takes attitude then when it comes time for you to challenge your people to rise up above where they are at, they will have the whatever it takes attitude. It is a win/win situation.
In my own church I don't have to recruit people. People volunteer to clean the church believe it or not. Why? Because they know that we are a team and we do whatever it takes.
INSIGHT #3 - GIVING AWAY THE CREDIT
Growing up as a child, receiving praise was not something that happened a lot. As a result for many years I worked hard to win the praise of others. This caused me to make sure I got credit when credit was due. However if you are going to be a good leader and visionary you have to learn to give away the credit. Nothing empowers people to accomplish great things than getting a pat on the back for what they do.
Every Sunday I pick a couple of people in my congregation to praise. Whether it is the ladies who decorate the church, or the director of our food bank, or the Sunday school teachers, I make sure that either publicly or privately I lavishly pour out praise. Even when I am leading a project, and it goes right, I make sure that people know that I would not have been able to do it without the help of the others who were involved.
When you do this, people want to help you accomplish your vision because they realize that you are doing it for the right motives and not just doing it to make yourself look good. You are not doing it to build your ministry but you are doing it to build His church. This is another key to having an activated flock. When you lavish out praise, people volunteer without having to be asked.
On the flip side of this, I absolutely NEVER correct or dress someone down in public. I might take them aside privately and encourage them to do something different but I will never ever embarrass or humiliate someone in front of everyone else. If you do, then nobody will ever volunteer for anything except out of obligation. Nothing is more demoralizing than to look like a fool in front of your peers.
INSIGHT #4 MAKING THE INSIGNIFICANT INTO THE SIGNIFICANT
Another key to seeing a vision come to pass is what I call "not despising the small things." It comes from the prophet Zechariah.
For who has despised the day of small things? For these seven rejoice to see The plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel. They are the eyes of the LORD, Which scan to and fro throughout the whole earth."
It is the little things that will make or break you. They are your foundation. The little things like giving the kids a piece of candy before sending them off to children's church or taking a moment to let your white haired ladies share about their week. These things are important. Every event, every program, every outreach needs to be treated as if it was the most important thing that you are going to do that day. If you do not treat what is going on as important then neither will your congregation. We live in an era that glorifies big things, but in ministry and in both helping others and in seeing your own vision come to pass, it is the little things that get you to the finish line.
In the case of the word that was given to the nation of Israel, it was the little thing of marking out the lines to where the new temple would be built. In your case it might be the little thing of making people feel significant in what they are doing even if it is just cleaning the church. Do not despise the little things. Those that start with little things will graduate to bigger things.
“If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.
FINALLY, LEAD BY EXAMPLE
As leaders many times we are tempted to think it is our responsibility to make something happen. We think that we have to control everything and micro manage people. We are shepherds not Jesus. Many times the most important thing I do is step out of the way. I may be capable of doing something. I may even be called to do something but not always it is profitable for the people for me to do it. I have to be willing to put them first and let them learn to serve Jesus just like I learned to serve Jesus 33 years ago. If I do it for them then they will not learn.
I am a capable guitarist. I played professionally in my long hair days. However that does not mean I need to play or should be the worship leader. Nor should I dictate what songs are to be sung or what styles should always be used. I have given some broad parameters and principles concerning what makes good worship, but I let someone else hear from Jesus and learn to serve Him with music. It does more good for the people in the church to see me be a worshipper. They are released to be worshippers when they see that I am not afraid to raise my hands, clap my hands, move my feet, or get on my knees.
It does no good to tell them they need to do the stuff. You have to walk beside them as they do the stuff. You can't do that if you are doing the stuff yourself. So in order to lead by example, you have to let go. You have to set the example that they are not there to build your ministry but you are there to build their ministry. You are there to build people.
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