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I (Cameron) recently had the privilege of speaking at the GGF Leadership Conference on the subject of Vision. It is my opinion that many of us lack vision in our personal lives, in our ministry, and in the various communities in which God has placed us. But in order to have vision we must first understand what it is.

Andy Stanley in his book “Visioneering,” has this to say regarding the nature and understanding of vision, “Visions are born in the soul of a man or woman who is consumed with the tension between what is and what could be… Visions form in the hearts of those who are dissatisfied with the status quo. Vision often begins with the inability to accept things the way they are. Over time that dissatisfaction matures into a clear picture of what could be. But a vision is more than that… There is always a moral element to vision. Vision carries with it a sense of conviction. Anyone with a vision will tell you this is not merely something that could be done. This is something that should be done. This is something that must happen.” (17)

What I love about this understanding of vision is that it takes the pressure off of having to be this super creative inventive type person with this glorious grand vision of what your life or ministry will look like five, ten, fifteen years down the road, and it simply says what is convicting you? What is creating that tension in your mind about what is and what could be, what is and what should be, what is and what must be. Vision is a preferred future. A destination. Vision always stands in contrast to the world as it is. Vision demands change. It implies movement.

In light of this I think there are three key reasons we should have a vision for our lives and our ministry. First, we need a clear vision for our ministry because it brings purpose, significance, and value to the mundane and meaningless aspects of all that we do in our ministry. Stanley writes that it’s the difference between filling bags with dirt and building a dike to save the city, he says, “too many times the routines of ministry begin to feel like shoveling dirt.” And so we find that a vision brings significance and meaning to our ministry and sets it on the course to a destination that is part of a purposeful journey.

The second reason we need a vision for our life and ministry is quite simply because God has a vision for our life and ministry. And this is where we as Christians differentiate ourselves from the secular world and all the self-help books and vision casting how to’s. Because we have a God who has known us, known our lives, and known both our personal ministry and the ministries in which we have served since before time began. He has a plan and a will for us, and for our ministry. This is essential; because now it is not just our vision, that we came up with, on our own, by ourselves, but rather it is God’s vision for us, for our life, for our ministries, and we are called to discover what that picture, what that vision truly is.

But the third reason we should see fit to have and identify a vision for our ministry is because God has given us, in his word, numerous examples of people who have done the same, and we would be wise to follow their example. From Adam and Eve, who had a vision to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it.” To Moses, who had a vision to bring God’s people out of the land of Egypt, and to worship God in the promised land. To Jesus Christ, who had a vision “to seek and to save the lost.” There is no shortage of biblical examples of men, women, and entire nations who discovered God’s vision for their life and ministry, and jumped on board with Him. And as adopted sons and daughters of God we are called to do the same.

The question then becomes, how do we do that? How do we seek after, discover, and join God in the specific vision he has for our life and ministry?

And as simple as it may sound, I think the first thing we do is go to the Lord in prayer. We use the primary means of communication we have with the Lord, and we ask him to reveal to us that which he desires to lay on our hearts. To know that with which we will be burdened, that thing, that area in our life or ministry that has brought us to a point of moral conviction, not just something we could do, but something we should do, something we must do. Our vision must involve our passions, and our passions are invoked when we come to the point that we are morally convicted of its need to be done. And so we pray… we pray for the Lord to reveal that to us, that thing, that area, that we simply cannot get out of our mind, that we cannot escape. That thing which keeps us up late at night, that weighs us down when we get out of bed in the morning, that screams at us for something to be done. That thing which cannot remain the same any longer…

Once we have found that, or once we believe it has been revealed to us… we wait. I know that seems the opposite of what we should do, but we wait, we pray and we wait, and we allow the Lord to confirm what we believe Him to be revealing to us. We allow the vision to grow, to mature as we wait to act upon it, not truly sure yet if this is God’s specific vision for our ministry, but growing in that direction as he begins to use certain people and circumstances to confirm this direction in our ministry. Knowing that if this truly is his vision he will be preparing the way for us, even as we wait patiently on him.

And then once we have waited… when we can wait no longer, and we have prayed and planned, and planned and prayed, and prepared ourselves for this calling, for this vision, then we act. But not with meekness or trepidation, but with boldness, as empowered by the Lord God himself towards the fulfillment of the mission through this vision of our ministry. But though we act with boldness, we do so with humility, never being so bold as to confuse our plans for God’s vision. Knowing that to walk step in step with God’s specific vision for our life and ministry will require constant refinement, which is where the humility we need is truly manifested.

And then we allow God to work in and through us towards the fulfillment of the vision that he has burdened us with, convicted us with. Knowing and praising his ability to work a good work that glorifies his name and his ministry by using broken and sinful people who are prone to disappoint, who are likely to fail. And so when we do, we receive his forgiveness, we allow Jesus Christ to pick us up and dust us off by the power of His salvation freely offered to us, and we get back to work, learning from our mistakes, refining our understanding and knowledge of the Lord’s vision, our vision, for our ministry.

And then we see it to completion. Either the vision’s or our own. Knowing full well the Lord’s ability to continue the vision when we are unable to go any further.

This is where I tell you that I cannot give you your vision for your life and ministry. That is a process that takes place between you, and God, and the people closest to you. But what I can tell you is that God has a vision, a specific vision for you, and if he has a vision for you, then you had better get in on it, you had better not miss that boat, because it won’t stay docked forever. If God himself, from eternity past, has had a specific vision for your life and ministry, well then we should too, and preferably the same one.