Getting our Vision from God.
This was from a teaching to the Men of Church Alive
I recently came across a Forbes Magazine article from 2009 the title of which was Leadership Success Always Starts with Vision.
I believe this but I think that it is a partial truth.
First though, we as men need to understand our high calling as leaders. It wouldn’t matter a hill of beans to talk about leadership and vision to a group of people who weren’t leaders, who didn’t see themselves as being leaders or thought that they’d ever be leaders. But that is not who I’m talking with. I am talking to a room full of leaders.
Most of you are husbands and many of you are dads, so by virtue if in no other role, though I find that hard to believe, you are leaders (at least have been called to be) in that capacity.
Ephesians 5:22-24 (NASB) 22Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.
So you see you are a leader because your wife is to submit to you…Well maybe not so simple. You are a leader because you are compared in the marriage relationship to Christ in His relationship to the Church. Our obligations as leaders of our home are stated in:
Ephesians 5:25-26 (NASB) 25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word
We are leaders, or have been called to be leaders, at least in our homes because we are to be in our homes as Christ is to the Church. So we look to Christ and his leadership to model our own. This isn’t simply applied in the home but in every position of leadership which we operate in.
John Maxwell defines a leader as someone “who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way.”
This is simplistic but sometimes simple is ok. I believe there are three essential components that most be present in order to be considered an effective leader in any capacity.
- Own, define and communicate VISION
- Promote and Cultivate RELATIONSHIPS
- Actual Goal ACCOMPLISHMENT
And these three essentials can correlate to Maxwell’s definition of leadership
- VISION – Knows the Way
- RELATIONSHIPS – Shows the Way
- ACCOMPLISHMENT – Goes the Way
All three of these components have to be present in the life of the leader for the leader to be an effective leader. They are interdependent. Take one away and the leader is ineffectual.
However today we are going to focus on only one of the three – VISION.
But we are not simply leaders like the leaders in Washington or the leaders on Wall Street. We are called to be something different, we are called to be Spiritual Leaders. And not just about spiritual matters. This applies in our homes, businesses, politics, and friendships; pretty much in every aspect of our lives and in all realms where we wield influence of some sort.
So what is a Spiritual Leader and how is it different?
Spiritual leadership is moving people on to God’s agenda
Spiritual Leadership, Henry and Richard Blackaby, p.36
Spiritual Leadership has to do with leadership by God’s Vision.
Therefore, as Spiritual Leaders, our vision comes from God.
An often quoted passage about leadership is Proverbs 29:18
Proverbs 29:18 (KJV): 18Where there is no vision the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.
There is a problem with the translation here and it has nothing to do with the translation but it has everything to do with the multiplicity of our understanding today of vision. To get a better understanding about this vision that is so vital to have, as the people will perish without it, let’s look at another translation, the ESV, and also the Message Bible.
Proverbs 29:18 (ESV): 18Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law.
Proverbs 29:18 (MSG): 18If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; But when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed.
You see our vision is to be prophetic vision, meaning divine in origin. Therefore we must learn to hear from God for ourselves in order to have prophetic vision. We must be reliant on God for our vision. There are countless examples of God given vision and also of visionless leadership as well. One example is with Hannah and Eli.
Hannah, who had been barren and pleaded with the Lord for a child had vision for her son. With the blessing of Samuel she dedicated him, she had God given vision for his life and hers. Samuel ended up becoming a mighty man of God despite having a mentor who had no prophetic vision for his own family. Eli, the priest, the same priest who was to take and mentor Samuel had sons also, but had no vision for his sons. Had not lead his sons and his sons grew to be vile men whom experienced the wrath of God. Eli wasn’t doing much better mentoring young Samuel, probably because Eli himself didn’t often seek the voice of the Lord. In Samuel 3, a scene unfolds where God is calling Samuel and Samuel doesn’t recognize the voice of God. He keeps asking Eli about it, Eli shrugs him off until finally Eli realizes and tells Samuel that the Lord is trying to talk with him. Why didn’t Eli get it? He was after all the religious leader of God’s people. I believe because Eli had very little prophetic vision or revelation. It says in 1 Samuel 3:1b.
1 Samuel 3:1b (ESV): …1bAnd the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision (or widespread revelation [NKJV]).
The books of the Kings and the Chronicles are littered with accounts where one generation did well and they’re offspring failed. Why? Obliviously it doesn’t all have to do with the foundation set. Great leaders and parents have had offspring that did not choose to follow the good and Godly example set before them. However, there are great examples throughout the scriptures, such as Hezekiah, were lack of God given vision for the next generation led to a downfall.
Hezekiah was one of the kings of Judah. Hezekiah for the most part proved to be a good king. He did what was right in the sight of the Lord. However Hezekiah did not seek the word of the Lord late in his life and acted foolishly. He showed off Judah’s wealth to the Babylonians. The Word of the Lord then came to Hezekiah, through the prophet Isaiah.
2 Kings 20:16-18 (NKJV): 16Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the LORD: 17‘Behold, the days are coming when all that is in your house, and what your fathers have accumulated until this day, shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left, says the LORD. 18‘And they shall take away some of your sons who will descend from you, whom you will beget; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.’”
This is a pretty long lasting and terrible consequence for not having prophetic vision, for failing to inquire of the Lord. Hezekiah follows that up with a visionless statement.
2 Kings 20:19 (NKJV): 19So Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “The word of the LORD which you have spoken is good!” For he said, “Will there not be peace and truth at least in my days?”
Hezekiah ended up dying sometime after that and was succeeded by his son Manasseh, who just happened to be one of the worst kings in Judah’s history. Here Hezekiah had no care about seeking the Lord’s vision for his kingdom nor any vision for Judah’s future or even his own lineage. Manasseh suffered, in part, because of his father’s lack of vision.
Jesus talked about this need for vision when he was teaching his disciples about choosing a leader.
Luke 6:39-40 (NKJV): 39And He spoke a parable to them “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into the ditch? 40A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher.
Luke 6:39-40 (MSG): 39He quoted a proverb: “‘Can a blind man guide a blind man?’ Wouldn’t they both end up in the ditch? An apprentice doesn’t lecture the master. The point is to be careful who you follow as your teacher.
Really this scripture is has more to do with selecting a teacher / leader to submit to, however as we are leaders we can use it as a measure for how we are to be. We are to have vision, prophetic, God given, vision. We should have an understanding of where we are going. We get that from the Lord. That is what Jesus did.
John 8:28b (ESV): 28bI do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me.
We are first, as spiritual leaders, to teach those of whom we are in authority over as we have been taught. Then we are to teach them to gain vision on their own.
2Ti 2:2 NIV –  And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.
Ultimately this is the outliving of the Christ’s great commissioning to make disciples. Only ones who have been discipled and are leaders with a vision for making disciples can live out this commissioning. But aren’t we all called to be this? It is the corporate, revealed will of God. We are all called to certain things as members of the body, such as loving the Lord with all of our heart, all of our minds, all of our wills and all of our strength. We are all also called to love our neighbor as ourselves. God commanded that we all, as we are going to make disciples of all peoples, and don’t stop at that, that’s not the end of the command. Teach them my revealed will, help them to learn about me and teach them to do as I do.
This is our calling as leaders. There is also a personal ‘will of direction’ so to speak that is unique or personal to us as individuals. This will of direction will never be in conflict with God’s revealed will, it should compliment God’s revealed will.
So how do we go about gaining this prophetic vision? That is a bit more than I can really go into at this time but there are some principles which we can go by.
- Spend time with God (Paul and Barnabas commissioned)
- Study His Word to get an understanding of what He sounds like
- Submit everything to Him
- Ask Him to give you are heart for the things that He has a heart for. (Nehemiah example)
- Be willing to make mistakes
- Be willing to give something(s) up
- Take note about when you got it wrong and when you got it right.
- Submit to Godly council, but don’t substitute man’s word for God’s Word.
- Ask Him His Will
Act 13:1-3 ESV –  Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a member of the court of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.  While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”  Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.
Neh 1:1-11 ESV –  The words of Nehemiah the son of Hacaliah. Now it happened in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Susa the capital,  that Hanani, one of my brothers, came with certain men from Judah. And I asked them concerning the Jews who escaped, who had survived the exile, and concerning Jerusalem.  And they said to me, “The remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire.”  As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven.  And I said, “O LORD God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments,  let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father’s house have sinned.  We have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, and the rules that you commanded your servant Moses.  Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples,  but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there I will gather them and bring them to the place that I have chosen, to make my name dwell there.’  They are your servants and your people, whom you have redeemed by your great power and by your strong hand.  O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name, and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.” Now I was cupbearer to the king.
Neh 2:4-6 ESV –  Then the king said to me, “What are you requesting?” So I prayed to the God of heaven.  And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ graves, that I may rebuild it.”  And the king said to me (the queen sitting beside him), “How long will you be gone, and when will you return?” So it pleased the king to send me when I had given him a time.