Leadership is Never Playing It Safe

Stan Toler said that “Leadership is about moving people in a preferred direction toward a destination born out of a vision.”[1] It’s telling the people you are leading this is where we are going. It is driven by a compelling vision worth flinging your life to.

I grew up in a safe church. All we needed to do was accept Jesus in our hearts so that we won’t spend eternity in the lake of fire. We were led to the afterlife but there was not much leadership in the here and now. It was a compelling vision with a preferred direction but what was missing was the “moving people” part.

I remember joining Youth on Fire in my high school days. It was run by people who were moving people in a preferred direction toward a destination born out of a vision. The vision was simple and big.

HONOR GOD AND MAKE DISCIPLES. And to get there we had to be trained to think like world changers. The narrative was not “accept Jesus” so that you won’t go to hell. It was “make Jesus center”, and “change the world”.  That got me hooked on the church that I and my family are a part of.  I wanted to change the world with like-minded people who believed in a vision bigger than themselves and it required strong leadership to get us there.

It starts with a compelling vision. Not just a vision we are required to memorize because it is plastered in our office. It is a vision that needs to make sense in our hearts and soul. A vision needs to do some basic things:

  1. It needs to solve a problem.
  2. It requires more than one person to achieve. It takes teamwork to make the dream work.
  3. It must be practical and doable.
  4. It should inspire people to action.
  5. It must be God-inspired.

One of the most misquoted verses in the Bible is Proverbs 29:18

“Where there is no vision, the people perish.”

What we tend to do when we interpret this verse is to look at the English word use and make a statement out of it. The word vision mentioned here is the Hebrew word hazôn –an oracle from God (spiritually seeing a word from God); divine communication that requires a response.[1]

The vision mentioned in Proverbs means that it is something that God drops in your heart. This goes deeper than any emotion. This now becomes our calling as His people to lead the way He leads or the people under our care will perish if there is no divine guidance/revelation of God in our leadership.

Oswald Chambers said, “God gives us a vision, and then He takes us down to the valley to batter us into the shape of that vision.  It is in the valley that so many of us give up and faint.  Every God-given vision will become real if we will only have patience.  Just think of the enormous amount of free time God has!  He is never in a hurry.  Yet we are always in such a frantic hurry.  While still in the light of the glory of the vision, we go right out to do things, but the vision is not yet real in us.  God has to take us into the valley and put us through fires and floods to batter us into shape until we get to the point where He can trust us with the reality of the vision.  Ever since God gave us the vision, He has been at work.  He is getting us into the shape of the goal He has for us, and yet over and over again we try to escape from the Sculptor’s hand in an effort to batter ourselves into the shape of our own goal. “The vision that God gives is not some unattainable castle in the sky, but a vision of what God wants you to be down here.  Allow the Potter to put you on His wheel and whirl you around as He desires.  Then as sure as God is God and you are you, you will turn out as an exact likeness of the vision.  But don’t lose heart in the process.  If you have ever had a vision from God, you may try as you will be satisfied on a lower level, but God will never allow it.”[2]

[1] Stan Toler, “Outstanding Leadership,” in Outstanding Leadership (Eugene, OR, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2016), pp. 8-8.

[2] Oswald Sanders, “Get Your Daily Dose of Wisdom.,” My Utmost for His Highest, accessed April 6, 2021, https://utmost.org/classic/vision-and-reality-classic/.

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