Shepherd’s Care: Vision (5)

There is so much more we could say about visions and about visionary leadership, but I’ll conclude the present exploration with two closing comments….

First, some have mistakenly believed that visions can only come through the designated leader.  I know a pastor who believes this.  He is convinced that the biblical pattern for visionary leadership is that the pastor is the only person who “gets” the vision.

I believe he is wrong, and that he has become imprisoned in an Old Testament concept rather than a New Testament one, where the larger Body of Christ has dreams and sees visions.  Thankfully, the pastor I know is healthy enough not to try to “control” the vision once it is cast.  Thankfully, he knows how to delegate the implementation of the vision to those around him.  But in principle, I want to bring this brief study of vision to a close by exhorting you to be open to God’s vision coming to you from any person in the church.  Sometimes, “even a little child shall lead them.”

Second, I commend those who correctly understand that it is the leader’s role and responsibility to announce the vision.  Once a discerning body has become convinced that God is calling their church to see and respond to a vision, it is the leader’s ministry to cast the vision.  There must be a “point person” for the vision; otherwise, it can get muddled and misinterpreted by “too many cooks who spoil the broth.”

The announcement of the vision is the first step in the stewardship of it.  The leader drops the rock into the water, and the entire church traces the ripple effect.  No one can know in advance where it will go.  But because we believe sincerely that something is the will of God, we promise to follow where the vision leads.

And one final thought—-knowing that we don’t always “get it right,” what do we do when we sincerely misunderstand a vision or act in a way that doesn’t honor or fulfill it?  Well….sadly, some people just “forge ahead” and try to force it to happen.  They have too much ego invested in it to stop.

But what we should do (and leaders have a responsibility to guide this process) is to simply admit that we have headed off in the wrong direction—turn around—and revise our actions in terms of the new light we’ve received.  God always allows “u-turns.”  It’s called repentance.

As I’ve told folks for years, “We may have to ‘eat a little crow’ in order to confess we’ve failed to see a vision correctly, but if you add some salt and pepper, even ‘crow’ will go down!”

About Steve Harper

Dr. Steve Harper is retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 45 books. He is also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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1 Response to Shepherd’s Care: Vision (5)

  1. Burrell Dinnkins says:

    Steve: I like your ideas about vision. Visionary leaders usually do a lot of listening with a good filter system to help sort through the noise to find the clearest message from God. Once they claim the vision to be accurate they must be strong enough to keep others from sabotaging or high jacking it. A good vision needs a good leader and willing followers.
    Burrell Dinkins

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