“And the Lord answered me: ‘Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.’” Habakkuk 2:2 (ESV)
Leadership is all about vision. Leaders must know where they are going in order to invite others to join them on the journey. If we want to see our ministries reach maximum influence, then we must do the hard work of crafting a vision. What do you see when you imagine the future of your ministry? Do you find yourself staring at the details, scratching your head, or decisively leading a ministry that embraces and welcomes individuals affected by disability? Where does vision come from, and how do you know if it is the right one?
First, sustainable vision comes from God. Spend time on your knees in prayer. Spend time in the Word for devotions and study. Spend time in worship exalting and magnifying the Lord. Then I encourage you, along with other ministry leaders, families, and volunteers, to seek God and determine the specific emphasis of the ministry He has called you to lead.
Second, ensure that your ministry vision lines up with the overall vision of your church. Ask the pastoral staff of your church to join you in prayer for the ministry. Once you have determined a vision for your ministry communicate it with your pastoral staff to gain their support and endorsement.
Third, begin to share the vision anywhere and everywhere that you can. As the concept of “Irresistible Church” has grown at Joni and Friends, the words themselves have become a regular part of the vocabulary at our ministry and in the churches that we serve. As Habakkuk declares, we must make the vision known so that others may run with it once they hear.
Next, reinforce your vision with action. For example, if your vision is to serve and embrace families affected by disability, yet there are no small groups for parents or family-based ministry events, the actions of the ministry might not reflect the vision of the ministry. This step is imperative as we all know that actions speak much louder than words. Your community will be looking at what you do as a ministry long before they read your vision statement to learn what you want to do.
Finally, understand that the implementation and execution of vision is a process. While your vision will be far bigger than what you can accomplish, the reality is that you start your vision today (as a side note: if your vision is not beyond your capacity, then you are not dreaming big enough. Pray for a vision that requires you to depend upon God for the fulfillment). Don’t try to implement the entire vision at the beginning, but start with the resources you have, the leadership support you have, and the families you have. Daily steps in accordance with the vision will eventually get you where you want to go.
I have heard many leaders over the years compare casting vision to an airplane captain taking a plane from point A to point B. While the final destination is always in mind, it takes thousands of tiny corrections along the way to make the plane land where the passengers expect it to land. Vision must drive your ministry and unite your leadership, but the small daily adjustments of ministry will keep you on course.
Thank you for leading well! Thank you for striving to bring authenticity into your church and community. What is your vision? Do you have a dream for your ministry? I pray for leaders, volunteers and families to see your vision, to embrace your vision, and to live out your vision.
Mike Dobes is the Supervisor of Church Relations for Joni and Friends.