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  • Writer's picturesonnyholmes

5 ignition points for personal passion | vision

At some point in the process of spiritual leadership vision enters the picture. Two primary scenarios have been on the play list of churches I've known where vision was an issue.

Scenario 1: The pastor search or personnel committee is interviewing pastoral or ministerial candidates. They will invariaby ask, "what is your vision for our church?". If they ask for my coaching advice before hand I usually indicate this as a totally inappropriate question. The person being questioned doesn't typically know anything about the church, it's ministry context, history, or other pertinent data. As a result, he or she doesn't have a vision for the church. A vision process that makes more sense would be for the committee members to share the church's vision with the candidate. The right question would be, "Can you lead us in it?".

Scenario 2: The church is floundering. The numbers are dismal, giving is down, and there's not much happening right now. So, in formal and informal settings the congregation and leadership start dealing with the vision questions. Their final assessment is that the pastor or staff leadership have no vision. And, they all know, where there is no vision the people perish. So, they put pressure on the pastor till he leaves. Then, they elect or appoint a search committee and shift into Scenario 1, as summarized above.

Both are predicated on several false assumptions about vision. One is the simple mistake of believing that vision is something we humans can devise. When we ask vision questions we're usually anticipating a shift into dream state and expect a thrilling future picture of the church and mission, embellished by our most eloquent, trendy language and spot-on images. Even in the information age, when biblical interpretation and translation is a key-stroke away most churches are struggling to verbalize their vision. Do some background study on just about any local congregation these days and you'll find a vision team on their organizational grid. Their assignment is to develop a vision statement that can pass the t-shirt or coffee mug test and express to the world their view of what is coming. Get real! Without vision the people perish. Right?

Another false assumption is that the pastor or spiritual leaders of the church are the sole proprietors of church vision. So, if there's drift, it's because the man or people at the helm have little sense about where they're going. So, hang around Baptist churches long enough as you'll get the drift. They'll reactivate the revolving door to the pastor's study and find someone with a compelling vision to lead them---about every threee years, if the numbers we're hearing are the least bit accurate. Additionally, under this assumption, many of the egotists in pastoral leadership justify actions that certainly appear self- gratifying by profaning the truth of "...where there is no vision the people perish...". Give me a break! How can Creflo Dollar's $65M jet have anything to do with a kingdom vision. Joel and Victoria aren't perishing much in the $10.5M house either.

Proverbs 29:18 may be one of the most mis-interpreted verses in the Bible. It is what it is and says what God intended it to say. But, for generations we've allowed it to become the recipe for any home-cooked vision for God's people. It's not about a fantasy world, the deeper yearnings of a dream team, a well-crafted vision statement, or slick branding. It can actually mean a dream, but in the dream world of heaven, like Joseph. At root in this great verse is the word we've rendered "vision". No matter how it's translated, it refers to revelation, that is, what God has revealed. Without it, there are no boundaries to confine mankind's creative rebellion.

This is an ignition point of personal spiritual passion. There are some bullet points here---

1. God reveals himself to people.

2. His revelation is often given to the leaders he has called to be his representatives.

3. Without revelation there's no geniuine guidance for his people. An interesting study of this is in the Book of Judges, leading into 1 Samuel.

And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel.

Judges 2:10

In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did as was right in his own eyes.

Judges 21:25

And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision.

1 Samuel 3:1

4. God's revelation to leaders ignites passion in them. Entire nations were changed as God gave vision to his people through receptive, obedient leaders. Moses, Abraham, King David, all of the Prophets, the Apostles, leaders of the early church, and many more give ample evidence of how passion was ignited by God's revealed direction. The Pharisee Saul became missionary Paul under a vision from God. Cornelius was instrumental in Peter's mission to the Gentiles becasue he received a vision from God. They and many more became passionate voices of the kingdom because they were the recipients of a vision from God.

5. Spiritual leaders move people to God's agenda. Henry and Richard Blackaby define spiriitual leaders as those who move people to God's agenda (Spiritual Leadership, Nashville, B and H, 2001). So, the direction is never man-made or dreamed, but directed by God.

Don't tell me people today aren't capable of great passion. Humans can be pasionate about many things. Turn on the TV and just make a list. Our passion for God can be ignited, or re-ignited, as we become faithful recipients of his vision, revealed in Scripture, and also to us in the mystery of his ways. Remember what he said to the Apostle Paul at a critical time of church expansion to the far corners of the world:

Then the Lord said to Paul in a night vision, Don't be afraid, but keep on speaking and don't be silent. For I am with you, and no one will lay a hand on you to hurt you because I have many people in this city"

(Acts 18:9).

If "...I am with you..." doesn't light my fire, what in the world will?

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