Probably one of the top five books I have read in the past ten years is called Visioneering by Andy Stanley. In my mind, this book ranks with classics like Good to Great by Jim Collins and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey.
In Stanley’s book, he goes into great detail about why vision is so important to Christian leadership. He also gives solid advice about how to go about casting that vision to your organization. If you have not read this book, I highly recommend it! I would loan mine to you, but someone borrowed it several years ago and has failed to return it. I am hoping they read this post and get the hint!
This is my third post in the series on Credible Christian Leadership. In this series we are looking at the four building blocks of Christian leadership proposed by James Kouzes and Barry Posner in their book, Credibility. We started with honesty in my last post. Today, we are talking about being forward-looking, or casting vision.
Vision From Two Perspectives
Anyway, let’s talk about vision from a couple of perspectives. First, we need to discuss why it is important as a building block for Christian leadership. Second, we need to address what it looks like in a Christian leader.
People Want A Big Vision
If you read much about employee engagement, you will find that compensation is not always the most important issue affecting job satisfaction among employees. In many cases, the desire to work for something that is bigger than themselves turns out to rank higher than compensation for employees.
People want to be a part of something. That is one reason the Olympic Games are so interesting to people in all walks of life. When they watch the events on TV, they feel a part of the team. Americans, regardless of economic status or job position, feel like they are a part of a national team. It is invigorating to most everyone and the vast majority are not participating in any way other than as spectators.
If you want to tap into this passion with those you are leading, then they need to know you are looking into the future. They need to know you are seeing a better picture ahead and showing them how they can be a part of this vision.
What Should Vision Look Like?
Assuming you want this, let’s take a look at what this should actually look like from a Christian perspective.
For a Christian leader, our vision for the future cannot simply include things like more money and a comfortable retirement. If this is all it is, then we are showing them nothing any different than what the world is showing them. This just cannot be.
Temporal And Eternal Vision
Instead, this vision, coming from a Christian leader, needs to extend into the future on two levels – both the temporal (this life) and the eternal (the life to come). If we can cast a vision of a better future on both levels, we will have people eager to follow we and hear what we have to say.
Just like Jesus did with those He ministered to, we do need to provide for their physical needs in our vision. We cannot expect to lead people with no consideration of their physical existence and the needs that go along with it. If we ignore their physical needs when we are casting our vision for the future, then we will end up walking alone.
Stretch Their Picture
The difference for the Christian leader is that we are not painting a picture for them that only includes their own needs. We are instead showing them a larger picture that includes the needs of those around them. We want to show them that they can be a part of improving the community in which they live. This community includes their coworkers, neighbors, etc.
At the same time we are casting the vision for a better life here and now, we should also be casting the vision for a better life to come. As Christian leaders, we should be leading them to consider their life beyond this life.
In July’s C12 segment, the author describes it this way:
We need to believe, in our own hearts, that this earthly life is one of struggle and that the good life awaits us in Heaven. We lead based on the eternal perspective.
If we can cast this dual vision in a compelling way, we will draw people to God. Again, we are not looking for the spotlight. Instead, we are looking to cast that spotlight on Him and give Him the glory for it all.
Do you have a vision for a better future?
If not, are you praying for God to reveal it to you?
If so, are you casting this vision on both levels?