Leaders and Vision

In the corporatist environment of western society there are many business-based leadership/management techniques being applied to the church. Senior ministers are being called CEO’s or Coaches who are meant to be leaders with vision.
In a society measuring success by bigness or net worth “The lure of success can be seductive, and the adoption of secular standards or methods to achieve it may seem a small but necessary price to pay .”
Leaders are often compelled to be visionary and to articulate their vision however; to understand what vision actually is can be difficult. Some writers/speakers give no clear definition while others offer conflicting views. Is “vision” a principle to be grasped and applied or is it simply a secular concept to be shunned?
The key verse when dealing with this subject says that people without vision will cast off restraint and live carelessly (Prov 29:18). Obviously vision is an important principle or concept. Responsible leadership is about effectively equipping people to live worthy of the call (1 Thes 2:11-12; Col 1:10). But what is vision in the context of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ and how does one identify it and articulate it effectively?
According to Strongs Dictionary the Hebrew word for vision (translated vision in KJV & NAS revelation in NIV, NKJV prophecy in RSV and knowledge of God in TLB) is;
2377  chazown (khaw-zone’); from 2372; a sight (mentally), i.e. a dream, revelation, or oracle:
I like the idea of vision being prophecy or revelation of or about Jesus Christ. Even a cursory look at Scripture reveals that the object (or more accurately the subject) of vision is Jesus Christ (Rev 19:10). Rather than encouraging leaders to “have vision” it is, I think, more useful to help them identify what vision is.
As you will see I understand vision to be a picture or revelation of God’s eternal plan and insight into the particular way that we are called to participate in His plan. God has a vision that spans the generations. Each generation is led by the Spirit of Jesus to participation with Him in fulfilling that vision by working on an aspect of his plan within our generation.
The Hebrew nation understood that God is first and foremost the God of the generations. That is evident in His self-revelation as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob (Ex 3:16; Act 7:32). He gave Abraham a vision of a city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God (Heb 11:10). He and the following generations admitted they were aliens and strangers in the earth awaiting a country of their own (11:13-14). Each subsequent generation pursued the same vision knowing that they were kingdom builders with Christ (11:26). The generations, commended for their faith, participated with God in His eternal, multi-generational plan. Not one generation received what had been promised; for God had planned that none would receive the prize until we also have finished the race. Their lives of faith would not be complete apart from ours (Heb 11:39-40).
This multi-generational plan finds its fulfilment in Christ when all things in heaven and on earth are brought into subjection to the divine kingdom. When he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power; when the last enemy, death, has been destroyed; when his kingdom alone stands in supremacy then that kingdom will be presented by Christ to the Father (1Cor 15:24-28). Only then will our faith be complete; only then will the promise be fulfilled for us and for those who surround us now as a great cloud of witnesses (Heb 12:1); only then will we all receive the prize (Phil 3:12-14).
Visionary leadership is as simple as articulating God’s multi-generational plan (to choose from the nations of the earth a people called by His name cf Eph 3:9-11; 1Pt 2:9-10; Col 1:12; Rom 9:25) and the process by which those you lead can express their gifts (Eph 1:12) in participation with Christ (1Cor 3:9) as He accomplishes God’s vision on earth by the power of His Holy Spirit.
Two things that Jesus said that are pertinent to this discussion are:

1. I will build MY church (Mat 16:18),
2. The Kingdom of Heaven advances forcefully (Mat 11:12).
Leaders, as co-workers with Christ, are responsible to participate in God’s eternal plan to build the church in His advancing the kingdom. To be visionary is to see vision not as the accomplishment of a temporal task or goal but as participation in a multi-generational kingdom building strategy, knowing that the successful completion of the vision will be experienced and enjoyed together with all the saints at the end of the age.

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