A top characteristic of admired leaders is their vision. A visionary is able to see beyond the busy mundane activities of today. A visionary can paint a picture of the future that will create interest and passion in others. Visionary leaders make people discontent with where they currently are so they will be willing to take risks and endure challenges to get to where they could be.
For nearly four decades now, I’ve had a picture in my mind of a church that welcomed and embraced people who didn’t know much of anything about God, the Bible or faith. I envisioned a place where children and teens urged their parents to take them to church. I saw an environment where families could be strengthened in their relationship with God and each other. Twenty-eight years ago this month, I announced to the congregation I was pastoring in Elmira, NY that I was going to resign by the end of 1985 so I could finally follow that vision. So we moved to Cape Coral, FL to start a new church in May 1986. I didn’t want to go to the grave with untried visions dying inside.
Twenty-seven years later, I can report every significant vision that God births will put your courage to the test. I’m grateful to be watching the vision unfold before my eyes. It hasn’t been without a price—but worth it all.
Here are a few things I’ve learned about vision:
Vision Inspires – People will follow you if you can paint a picture of a preferred future. I have some who are still with me all these years because they were able to see the picture I painted nearly three decades ago. I’m awed by how a significant vision inspires people to take incredible risks and to heavily invest their time, talent and treasure to assure its success.
Vision Leaks – Vision casting needs to take place regularly. Followers forget. Daily life distracts. The preference for security sucks us back toward the comfort zone. The big picture needs to be repainted over and over again. It fades over time.
Vision Costs – The truth is, if you knew your vision would succeed you would drop everything and pursue it. But since there is no guarantee, one thing is needed. Basic bravery. Old-fashioned courage. I can testify that fulfilling a vision isn’t without a heavy price. There are plenty of people who want you to take the easy and safer road. Some want you to adapt your vision to fit theirs. Staying with my vision has cost me dear friends who weren’t willing to pay the price. Vision isn’t cheap—but well worth every sacrifice.
In a recent speech at the Global Leadership Summit, Bill Hybels said, “Visions are holy commodities. They come from a transcendent God. Treat them with utmost respect.” And he concluded, “Some of the most rewarding experiences in a leader’s marathon are reserved for quite late in the race.” Is there anything keeping you from living out the preferred future pictured in your mind?
QUESTION: What would you add about vision from your learnings? I’d love to learn from you! Share it below.