Leaders Need Double Vision
By Rodney Shaw
Leadership is often equated with the ability to cast a vision. Although this is a significant part of a Christian leader’s responsibility, vision is not everything. People must never be subordinated to a leader’s grand vision. People do not exist to serve a vision; a vision exists to serve people.
We often think of vision in dynamic, linear terms: moving, doing, going, and achieving. This is a conquest model of vision. But vision also can be seen as existential, i.e., as a way of being. In other words, in addition to seeing what we can do in the future, a leader must also see who we are in the present. This is a pastoral model. The two models can be contrasted as follows:
• What can we do versus what can we be
• How do we conquer versus how do we exist
• How can we grow versus how can we be healthy
• Goal/task oriented versus values oriented
• Event oriented vs. relationship oriented
The vitality of the present is equally as important as the promise of the future. Leaders can see great things in the distant future and yet remain blinded to the present. Without a clear vision of the present, it is impossible to effectively cast a vision for the future. A vision of the far away is meaningless without a corresponding vision of the present. If the present is not tended the far away will never be realized.
This is illustrated in a hilarious YouTube video which depicts a group of Japanese playing soccer . . . with binoculars! (Visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cwvVhO_ZelI to see the video.) Although they can clearly see the goal from a great distance, they cannot kick the ball that is right in front of them! This a great lesson for leaders. Before we can achieve the far away, we might need to remove the binoculars and see what is lying at our feet. Conquest is no substitute for health.
Leaders with great vision are often driven. It is easy to neglect the present in pursuit of the future. A strong emphasis on vision, goals, and the growth of the organization can be interpreted negatively by one’s followers if the leader does not balance his vision with sensitivity to the present. Casting a strong vision is certainly a must for a leader; however, vision-casting alone is not leadership. Vision-casting simply delineates the possibilities. A talented critic can do that. It is only the first step toward progress. Christian leaders must have double vision: a vision of what lies in the future as well as a clear vision of the present organizational climate including the welfare of the people God has entrusted to the leader.
Before a leader asks anyone to commit to a vision for the future, he needs to be able to answer the following questions: Are we a healthy organization? Will attaining the vision promote health or only conquest? Can we conquer and remain healthy? From where have we come? Where are we now? To where are we going? Are we ready to move? How quickly can we move? Are we structured to move? What is the cost of moving? What is the cost of remaining where we are? What are our greatest fears? Why should we go anywhere at all?
You will only achieve the far away by attending to the present. You may never see your far away vision come to pass, but you live in the present each and every day. Don’t miss opportunities to make a difference now. As Warren Wiersbe wrote, “If you get too far ahead of the army, your soldiers may mistake you for the enemy.”
“A vision of the far away is meaningless without a corresponding vision of the present. If the present is not tended the far away will never be realized.”
From, “Forward Magazine”/November-December 2008/Volume 39, Issue 6/Page 4 by Rodney Shaw
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