The leaders eyes
Scripture clearly identifies at least two particulars about the leaders eyes. One involves the grace of spiritual vision, that is, the spiritual eyes to receive God's vision for the community of faith entrusted to his care. The other is having the spiritual depth to know how that vision is communicated to the body and the degree to which the body is conforming to the revelation that God has given. Of course neither is fully realized by the optical equipment of the human body. The leaders eyes are the eyes of faith. But, the eyes of faith enable the leader to correlate what is happening visibly to what has been revealed.
Jesus identified spiritual blindness in the religious leaders of his day. He called them blind guides, adding the warning, "And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit" (Matthew 15:14, ESV). He was identifying the total absence of both elements of spiritual vision in the historic Jewish system. Because they lacked the spiritual depth to receive the revelation of Christ from God, they also displayed a blindness to the signs that Jesus gave them to validate his being sent from the Father. Their long history of resistance to God had hardened their hearts and, as a result, they could not see or hear (see Matthew 13:15). At the same time, he acknowledged the grace given to the apostles when he added, "But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears for they hear" (Matthew 13:16). Because their hearts were open to Jesus, they could see and hear the revelation that God was giving to them and comprehend it in what they beheld in Jesus every day. The mechanics of vision was evident in them.
Vision, then, is a heart issue. Spiritual leaders must have the heart to identify and receive the vision that God gives them. This may be a significant issue in many spiritual leadership circles today. Suddenly, in these fast and increasingly secular times, vision has become a human agenda, the challenge for mere humans to devise and communicate a compelling vision that creates buy-in within the body. Now, it seems, the struggle is to own the vision and mission of the church. Our clever business models contrive taglines, vision statements, sound bites, and catch phrases to energize and launch mission. The think tanks and board rooms often by-pass the revelatory aspects of church vision, down-grading the eyes of the spiritual leaders to mere optics.
Without vision, we all know, the people cast off restraint (Proverbs 29:18). This means without the prophetic revelation from God there will be no boundaries around the mission. It will be human folly. And, there's a sharp corollary here to the eyes of the spiritual leader. The writer of Hebrews brings this unity of vision into sharp focus. In a word to God's people about the dynamic relationship between spiritual leaders and those who are following he wrote---
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your
souls, as those who will have to give and account.
Hebrews 13:17, ESV
It's a distinction that is often missed in our training and assessment of spiritual leaders. Watching over the flock involves the union of both sets of spiritual leaders eyes, the depth to know the boundaries of life on mission, and the sight to verify it. It is the vision to know what God has revealed, and the vision to determine if that revelation is being obeyed.
Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of Proverbs 29:18 (The Message Bible), helped bring the verse to life in regard to spiritual vision and the eyes of the leader: If 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.
Proverbs 29:18, The Message
The eyes of the spiritual leader helps other see what God is doing to prevent them from stumbling all over themselves. This vision also gives the leader insight as to when they are actually stumbling and how they can attend to what he reveals and therefore be blessed. It's perhaps another good example of the dimensions of the leaders eyes.
For the spiritual leaders of 2016, that is my prayer, that they will have eyes to see.