When your expectations exceed God’s expectations, you’re setting yourself up for frustration and failure. Jesus said, “I have accomplished the work you set out for me to do” (John 17:4). Yet all sorts of things were still left undone. Was Jesus successful? He was because he followed the direction of the Father and the leading of the Spirit to do the assignment that was set before him.
Have you ever experienced vision whiplash? You’re part of a church or a faith community and the focs seems to shift every 6 to 12 months. For a season, the church is “all about small groups.” Then, without warning or explanation, you begin hearing that the church is “all about discipleship”– each ministry of the church is highlighting how it contributes to discipleship. Then a year down the road, the church is suddenly “all about being missional.”
In order to grow and keep moving forward, we need to know where we’re headed. Nice-sounding but vague goals may seem helpful, but actually serve to hold us back. For instance, we want disciples but haven’t clarified what a disciple looks like. Or we want to develop leaders, but aren’t clear on what what we want these leaders to do.
Try the following exercise to help you sharpen your vision:
This week I’m doing a five-part series to help you critically examine and sharpen your own ministry. The goal is to create a template that will allow you to serve as a consultant for your own ministry… a way of reflecting, assessing and clarifying where you are and where you want to go.
Today is step 1: vision.
What are you trying to accomplish? Start by laying out the answer to that question as clearly as you can:
- e.g. Our goal is to multiply churches (plants or satellites) to reach 1% of Chicago: 29,000 people.
God often tests the quality of our commitment to a vision by asking us to humbly accept a smaller initial role. If you’re not willing to mop the floor, you shouldn’t be the senior pastor.
Before God provides great resources, he asks for faithfulness with what he has already given us. We often think, “If only I had x, y, and z… then I could really do great things for God.” God, meanwhile, is wondering what we’re doing with a, b, and c, which we already have. We should consider how we are using are current gifts, skills, talents, time and money before we ask for more.
Is your vision godly? Measure it in light of these benchmarks.
A godly vision…
- Is right for the times
- Promotes faith rather than fear
- Motivates people to action
- Requires some risk-taking
- Glorifies God, not people