MARRIED TO THE VISION

As a leader God has placed a vision in your heart that is unique to you personally, to your church, and a vision that is effective to reach your community.  That vision is the “WHY” that drives your organization.  It is the reason why people get out of their beds early to serve, why they give to their church, and why they tell their friends and family about the church they love so much.  They understand what their church is uniquely about and not only that but they have personally experienced it!

Vision is like the gas in the engine of your organization.  Yes you have the tangible elements of the mission, systems, staff, and structure, but none of those things are going to get you very far without the fuel that is the vision.  The reality is people do not rally around service times, they do not rally around buildings, and sadly they rarely rally around the directions of the writers of the Bible.  But they do rally around a vision that takes those things and clearly explains why we do what we do and how that impacts real people in our communities.  That is the vision that God has placed in your heart as the leader.  That is the fuel to get the engine of your organization running and to keep it going.  That is the “WHY” that people rally behind and sacrifice for.

Unfortunately most leaders over time forget the importance of their mission and start focusing more and more on the engine and less and less on the fuel.  They allow modifications to take place that have nothing to do with where they are going and allow outside hands to tweak the organization in ways that suite them personally, but doesn’t benefit the organization moving forward.  The greatest understanding a leader must have is this.  We are married to the vision God has given our church and we never cheat on that vision under any circumstances! Too many leaders are unfaithful to their vision and that single thing is what is killing their organization more than anything else.  They are creating a culture of infidelity when it comes to the vision of their church where anything goes. If we know anything it is that an affair strains a relationship more than anything else because it rocks trust to its core and without trust people will not sacrifice in ways that an organization needs for it to succeed.

Now as leaders we don’t cheat on the vision intentionally, but what happens is we start to focus more on the tangibles of our present and less on what we are building and where are we going.  So we start letting things like money dictate our decisions, talent run the show, and strong personalities have a deciding opinion even though it is contrary to our vision.  We are scared that if we say “no” that they will dismantle our engine and leave us broke down on the side of the road. What we don’t realize is we are already broke down because we have no fuel we are just distracted by all their modifications that are just a false sense of progress.

So where do we go from here so that we can be 100% committed to the vision God has given us?  Here are three things to help us move forward:

1. Physically write out your vision.

You have to clearly state why you do what you do.  How can you stay faithful to something you don’t even know what that something is?  Gray areas are organizational killers! We must simplify and clarify what we are about as an organization. Before you do anything else block out time in your schedule to figure out your vision!  You can also read my post here to help you clarify your vision.

2. Physically write out your “HOW”.

Now that you know your vision you need to figure out “HOW” you are going to achieve that vision.  This needs to be what your organization does and you need to keep it simple.  No more than 4 or 5 things.  A healthy church cannot be a ministry buffet and have more events going on than the event center  in your city.  You have to write out only what you are about, how you will achieve that, and build from there.  Maybe start extremely small and grow from there.  Like we are only going to focus on our Sunday service for the next 6 months until that is solid and then add the next step.  But simplifying your “HOW” keeps the vision clear and your people unified.

3. Your vision becomes your litmus test.

Everything is ran under the filter of your vision.  Every idea, every ministry, every opportunity, every lead team member, every staff member, etc…. If it doesn’t marry seamlessly with your vision then it is a no go.  That sounds harsh, but unnecessary modifications just mess up your gas mileage and keep you from going the distance that you were created to go!

4. Be willing to lose people.

You will lose people when you say no! Brace yourself and expect it, but you are losing people that are not helping but hurting the organization.  We as leaders have to be ok with losing a few to gain many.  The reality is that the people you lose need to find a church with a vision that they can rally around just as much as you need people to rally around your vision.  In losing people you are actually benefiting them and yourself because a healthy organization is not a forced relationship.  When we lose people that are not sold out our vision the mood rises, the growth starts happening, and the momentum takes off!

I would love to hear your thoughts below…. What are the biggest compromises that hurt your organizations vision?

Consistency is EVERYTHING!

Guess what?  Overnight success is a BIG FAT LIE.  It is a myth and does not exist!  Success only happens when we do the right things consistently over an extended period of time… If you have ever read Jim Collin’s book “Good to Great” he calls this the Flywheel concept.  That at first it is extremely difficult to push the lever and get the flywheel moving, but if you keep pushing soon momentum will take over.

I am convinced most people never live their dreams because they don’t have the grit to stay committed to the process.  Commitment without a time limit leads to a Dream without a height limit.  Most people have great ideas and great dreams, but most people never see those ideas and dreams manifest into reality because they don’t have the resolve to see them through.  Dreams and ideas are easy.  Everyone has dreams. Yet very few people actually live their dreams. Why? Because very few people are willing to stay consistent long enough to see results.  A farmer doesn’t plant seeds and then after a week gets mad because they haven’t sprouted immediately so he ignores them and then goes and plants something else.  No he understands it takes time for things to grow and during that process he waters them, fertilizes them, and is constantly removing the weeds so those plants can flourish.  We must do that with our dreams, ideas, and our organizations.

Is it hard? You better believe it is hard.  You have to hustle in those moments of waiting, you have to have faith, and you must be disciplined to stay committed to the process.  Dreams without discipline are just fantasies and too many people are living fantasies when we were intended to turn those dreams into realities.

So how do we stay committed during the process?

1. Know where you want to end up.

It is important to picture what your dream would look like completed.  Picture the end result… If the book was completed what would the cover look like, if the storefront was up and running how would it be laid out with all its products, if the website was running how would it function, what would your logo be, how would your week run if you were working your dream Full Time, design the house you want to build, or what is your perfect clothing size? Whatever your dream is start picturing the dream completed so that you have a target in mind.

2. Set Goals.

Goals are meant to be steps that lead to your dreams.  Now that you know where you are heading start figuring out your first steps and give yourself a deadline to accomplish them.  Create a list of 5 or so goals and give yourself 4 to 8 weeks to accomplish them.  When you start attacking your goals in small chunks and in short spurts of time you become less overwhelmed and you naturally create momentum for yourself.

3. Figure out where you need to grow.

There are certain areas you will need to grow in to see your goals accomplished.  Be honest with yourself and come up with a few things you need to develop to fulfill your goals you just set for yourself.  Maybe you need to develop discipline to stay focused and use your time wisely, maybe you need to recruit a team and you need to work on vision casting, or maybe you need work on being more organized so you can accomplish your tasks with everything else you are working on.  Do an honest assessment of yourself every time you set new goals and watch your goals get accomplished and leadership increase.

4. Do NOT Quit.

Just make the commitment now that you are committed to the process.  Quiting is NOT an option and you ARE going to stay committed to the process.

Do the right things, the right way, consistently, and watch the growth happen in your organization and your life!

3 Questions to discover your Vision

MP3 Version at the bottom

I get asked by many pastors and leaders a lot the “HOW” question.  How are you growing? How do you get more people to attend your church? How do you grow your client base? How do you grow your organization?

With Leaders we are obsessed with the “HOW” because we want that next level, we want that growth, we want that expansion, but that CANNOT be our first question we ask!

The first question that has to be answered is the “WHY”.  Why do you do what you do? What is going to separate you from every other organization? What is your vision? What does this look like?

You cannot just have a blanket statement or a generic answer like “Well I am called to pastor a Church”. Ok that is great, but what does that Church look like? Having a generic answer without being able to answer the why is like someone saying they want to be a writer.  Thats great but what are you going to write about?  Are you going to write biographies, teaching materials, or romance novels?  Are you going to write books or blog posts?

You have to get more specific with your calling.  There is so much uniqueness with people and you have the ability to impact those people that will connect with your heart, but first you have to ask the “WHY” question because that’s your Vision.

3 Questions that help you discover your Vision

1. What am I just naturally good at?

Ask yourself what are you or what is your organization just naturally good at? Now this question is not answered by what you think you should be good at?  See many times we find ourselves playing the clone game where we look at other organizations and try to be carbon copies.  It doesn’t work that way.

So ask yourself what are we gifted at? Where are we excellent or heading that way?

2. What am I passionate about?

You have to enjoy what you are doing or you’re wasting what is already precious time in a very short life.  Do NOT pursue something because it is a good idea, but pursue something because you’re passionate about it!  Good ideas will never fulfill you and they will never give you the resolve to be successful.  John Maxwell said perfectly “Passion provides the fuel in a person’s life to keep them going!”.  If you are not passionate about something you will burn out and quit!

3. What will work?

Now I know you may think that is the million dollar answer, but you should know the demographic or market well enough that you can see where the needs are not currently being met.  If you don’t have that understanding you have not put in the due diligence to succeed because success takes a TON OF WORK. Understand the people you are trying to reach and see where their needs are not being met and thats how you reach a group of people who are not currently getting their needs mets.

When these three answers come together it is like magic.  That is the vision!

Like the Bible says “Without vision the people will perish” or as other translations say “run wild”.  If you do not answer the “WHY” your organization will run away from you and you will be left picking up the pieces.

You MUST answer the “WHY” before the “HOW”!