A friend recently shared with me that he had a hard time seeing what the next year was going to look like. He said that even without the pandemic, he isn’t a big visionary, and now, it’s even more difficult. As someone who loves to look at the big picture, I find myself in a similar situation. While I have an idea of what I want the summer and fall to look like, getting beyond that realm is a little tricky. But, in a world where there is so much uncertainty spending time on vision and big picture planning is essential.
Whether you are a practical thinker or a big-time dreamer having a vision for your ministry or church is critical. Vision gives us the direction that God is calling us to move and gives our followers an idea of where we need to go. With vision, people lose sight of their priorities and purpose. As leaders, one of the most important things we can give our teams is a purpose that answers the big question, “Why do we exist?” But, how do we craft vision when the future is so unpredictable?
IMMERSE YOURSELF IN PRAYER
If I disconnect from God, I have a hard time seeing past the end of the week. There are times when I try to sit and listen quietly, but if I’m overwhelmed, there is a lot of noise going on in my head. To help process the ideas and listen to what God is trying to tell me, I journal. I write down whatever comes into my head, and even if it doesn’t make sense, it clears it so that I can listen better.
Some people I know hear God’s voice on a prayer walk, through the rosary, or going to Eucharistic adoration. No matter your method, make sure God is at the center of it and let Him do the talking. There will also be times when you need to meet with coworkers to pray about the vision. Vision casting and planning are more than a solo effort, especially if you are a team member. Again, no one really needs to say much, but getting together to pray for the people and the places you are called to shepherd is critical.
God will reveal Himself. It might be in words, people, or things, but He will reveal His plan for you and the ministry. Don’t miss out on this most important step, and start incorporating a regular time to pray over the vision God has given you.
GET TO KNOW YOUR MISSION FIELD
Your mission field is the group of people in your area who need to meet and grow to know Christ. This past year has been a real challenge, with most of us telecommuting or being limited with in-person interaction. And while there are obstacles to how we can interact, we can still get to know our mission field by reaching out to those we know and check-in with their lives.
Before the pandemic, I was all about meet-ups for coffee and chatting with parents after pick up. Today, the strategy is picking up the phone, setting up Zoom calls, and collaborating with other leaders (e.g., principals, coaches, etc.) in the community.
Because so much has changed, we need to ask a lot more questions because our mission field has changed. There are new challenges and different approaches, but the more we understand who we are serving, the more it will help us see the vision and craft a strategy.
MAKE FAILURE AN OPTION
No one likes to fail, nor should they. Failing is painful and can create wounds and hurts that never go away. But, when you try to avoid failure, it finds you, and it never goes well. When you avoid failure, you start to isolate yourself, and the joy you once felt in ministry disappears. Before you know it, you are losing impact, relevancy, and passion.
Making failure an option means taking a risk even when you don’t know the outcome. Hopefully, you’ve done some research and can take a calculated risk, but you aren’t afraid of missing your goals. Making failure an option means that you are willing to learn from your mistakes and adjust the strategy. Not being afraid to fail also means trusting God with the vision and guiding you where you need to go.
If there is one thing that we’ve learned in the last year, the Church needs to continue adapting and being flexible. To stay relevant and effective in the lives of many, we as leaders need to remember that God is always speaking to us and leading us to grow. If you don’t see a vision for the fall, remember this verse from Habakkuk:
Then the LORD answered me and said:
Write down the vision;
Make it plain upon tablets,
so that the one who reads it may run.
For the vision is a witness for the appointed time,
a testimony to the end; it will not disappoint.
If it delays, wait for it,
it will surely come, it will not be late. – Habakkuk 2:2-3