Last week I was driving down I-44 in the middle of a rain storm and I went to pass a semi truck that was going 65 in a 75 mph zone. Just after I passed his rear dual axels, things got dicey. He veered into my lane and I immediately took to the shoulder and became acquainted with my car horn. Finally, when I was almost rubbing my mirror on the concrete divider, he started to give me some space, and when I passed by and looked up into the cab you’ll never believe what I saw.
He had an entire state map unfolded and was holding it up with two hands, as he presumably drove his 18 ton death machine with his knee at 65 mph down the road. There was no way he could have seen me or anything in front of him because his vision was blocked. His vision was blocked because he was lost, he didn’t know where he was or where he was going. I don’t understand why, in a world where GPS is a part of every smart phone, he saw the need to use a map, but my little brush with death served to remind me of some things about vision that will hopefully help leaders be a little safer as they journey down the road.
1. Vision is essential to safe passage.
The reality is that we are all headed somewhere, but if we can’t see the destination we are headed to, there is no telling what or who we will run into along the way. I was speaking with another church leader recently that lamented that his church seemed to be getting along OK but they didn’t know where they were going and had no way to prepare for what was next. They were just doing their best to get by.
I totally get that. It is far easier to just do things on your own, to keep your head down, go to work, and get through another week. Many times we resort to that because we are in survival mode, especially during in times of conflict or when you are in a challenge of faith, but they can also be disastrous because they lead to missed opportunities, unintentional harm, and wasted time, sometimes years of it. God has given us a clear call and a limited time to pursue it. We need solid vision if we want to avoid the pitfalls and find our way to where we want to be.
2. Vision is essential to reaching your goal.
People often wonder why great companies like Kodak and Blackberry, once giants of industry, have taken such great falls. One reason is that they forgot they were on a journey. They lost sight of their destination because they thought that they had already arrived. Kodak had all the early info on digital pictures but passed it up because they had arrived with film. Blackberry was sure that the touch screen fad would fade because they had already arrived with their unique style of business smart phone. They took major hits because they could no longer see where business was headed, they lost the vision for it.
If you don’t know where you are going, there is no way to chart a course for your destination. If you want to dominate a local business market you have to define what that looks like. In church life if your goal is to reach every teenager in your community, then you have a good idea on how many kids that may be. In taking the time to define your goal you will also create a plan to help you achieve it. It’s impossible to hit a target that you don’t define. Having a clear vision is an essential step in making that goal clear.
3. Vision is essential to bringing people along.
Life is busy, full of opportunity, and the options are endless. People want to know that the choices that they invest their lives in will mean something. If you told someone “Hey let’s go jump in the car and drive around!” You may get a few adventure seeking couch potatoes to join you, but if you said “Hey let’s road trip to the beach!” you would have to organize a caravan or rent a bus. When people have a clear picture of the destination you are headed towards they become more and more willing to join you on the journey.
My wife and I are on a journey to become debt free (Thank you Dave Ramsey!) and this year we made a big decision to skip Christmas presents for our family, and our kids are thrilled about it. No seriously they are ecstatic! Not because they aren’t getting presents, but because we shared the dream with them that when we get our debt paid off early we will reward them with an awesome vacation that involves the beach. In doing this we not only get to pay off our debt, we get to instill some very powerful lessons in our kids that will shape the rest of their lives. Sharing the vision has been key to our family finally making some huge progress to our financial destination.
So where are you headed? Do you have a vision of your destination in mind or are you rocketing down the highway hoping you’ll figure things out as you go? As exciting as that can be taking the time to dial in your vision is vital to your success. What steps do you need to take today?
About the Author:
Kelly Rhoades is the founding pastor of LifePoint Church in Lebanon, MO. He is married to Bridget and is father to 4 amazing kids. He speaks and blogs about leadership, marriage and family, church, and personal growth. To learn more check out his blog at kellyrhoades.com.