It happens despite your best efforts and no one is immune: Vision Drift. If you spend any length of time in real-life ministry, you’ll understand the tyranny of the urgent, the fires that do need to be put out, and how easy it is to get sidetracked when there are so many good and important things that need doing. Vision—and its tendency to drift—is like that itch that you just can’t reach in your ministry. You know your God-given vision is still there, but you can’t quite get to it or grasp hold of it. Other things just keep getting in the way.
Maybe your long-term goals have shifted. It happens—and that can sometimes be a helpful refining of God’s direction. But other times your long-term goals have slowly shifted in a direction that you never intended to go. How can you tell the difference? And how can you get back on track? Follow the steps below to focus or refocus your vision.
4 Steps to Refocusing Vision
1. Free up time and energy
There’s simply no time for vision—much time for less long-range planning necessary for the realization of vision—if you’re jumping from fire to fire. Set aside some time, even if it’s only an hour a week at first, to figure out a strategy for freeing up some of your time and energy. You’ll need to find an alternate way to put out fires and deal with immediate needs. More than likely, that will require some delegation on your part, but it will also require some reshaping of priorities.
2. Take a personal inventory
Once you have a bit of breathing room, the next crucial step is taking a personal inventory. What are your goals—and why? Consider your motives. Consider the kingdom at large and not just your own church. Reflect on your original calling and where you find yourself now with regard to calling? Where do you see alignment? Where do you see disconnection? Take time to reflect, journal, pray, and listen for the voice of the Holy Spirit. Certainly vision can change over time, but when you look back over that trajectory, to what degree can you see the steady hand of God throughout?
3. Clarify your vision
Once you get a handle of what God is calling you toward, it’s time to drill down and get specific. For example, let’s say you’ve determined that God is calling you to make disciples and to do that in a relational way. Great. Now what exactly does a disciple look like? How would you know if you saw them? What behaviors would they exhibit? What qualities would be consistent throughout all disciples? In what ways would they all look different as individuals? Knowing precisely what you’re trying to create is often a missed step in the visionizing process.
4. Ensure a holistic reproducible process
With a clarification of your desired outcomes, now is the time to create a process that will produce those outcomes. For example, if you want people to learn the scriptures better, you’ll want more than one way to go about that. Consider providing ways to study the scriptures independently, ways to study the scriptures within community, ways to either listen to, sing, or read the scriptures. Then move on to the more obvious options like Sunday school classes. Think outside the box as much as possible to incorporate methods that will reach a wide variety of different people and will touch the intellect, the emotions, and the Spirit. Then—and don’t skip this step—find ways to make your process reproducible. You don’t want to just teach one group of people to know the scriptures better. You want to create an ongoing, sustained process for helping that group of people teach future groups of people the scriptures.
Vision That Goes Beyond Yourself
Be sure not to make your vision too small. Most God-given visions extend beyond the lifetime of the one person God shared that vision with. A good vision has a multiplying effect down through the generations. A good vision lasts and multiplies.
Whether you are just starting out or you are looking for clarity surrounding your vision for ministry, The Church Planting Journey* is a fantastic resource.
“While The Church Planting Journey focuses on church planters, almost everything in the book is helpful for any pastor who wants their church to make disciples and bear fruit. Depending on the pastor’s particular situation, different chapters will be more relevant at different times. The Journey Guides, especially, ask questions that established churches leaders need to ask themselves and their congregations for ongoing growth and development.
If I had to pick only one book to sit on my desk next to my Bible to guide me in leading a church that lived out its calling and multiplied disciples effectively, The Church Planting Journey would be that book.” -Adam Trambley
Photo by Paul Skorupskas on Unsplash