Steering clear of vision drift
“There is always a temptation to diddle around in the contemplative life, making itsy-bitsy statues.” There is always an enormous temptation in all of life to diddle around making itsy-bitsy friends and meals and journeys for itsy-bitsy years on end. It is so self-conscious, so apparently moral.
I won’t have it. The world is wilder than that in all directions, more dangerous and bitter, more extravagant and bright. We are making hay when we should be making whoopee; we are raising tomatoes when we should be raising Cain or Lazarus. – Thomas Merton, as written by Annie Dillard, “Pilgrim At Tinker Creek”
It seems there is nearly constant negative energy at work to knock you off the vision. I’m convinced that part of the fall of man was the effect of releasing upon the earth spiritual opposition to all that is good and positive and momentous – not just in the world around us, but in our personal lives with our reason for living. I guess that the vast majority of people that you and I run across are not living in anywhere near the fullest sense of the word, but instead, they are existing.
Once upon a time, I had an old Volvo station wagon with 200,000 miles on the odometer. As Volvos are known for, it was a reliable car that we drove for years. For the most part, it was in stable mechanical condition with one exception – one that was destructive. Until it was fixed, the front end would steer to the right unless the driver kept a firm grip on the steering wheel. The problem? It was out of alignment.
Vision tends to be a lot like that station wagon. Like the car, the faster it goes, the more it veers. I have a feeling that with a large enough space it would veer off to the right and eventually, automatically drive in a giant circle.
When we get off track from the original calling on our lives, in our work, in our ministry – then the “Vehicle” of your life and work will begin to move off to the side of the road. It’s inevitable that we face this – it’s part of the dilemma of being a leader on a broken planet with broken people.
Avoid vision drift.
Clarify the vision
Where are you headed? What is your preferred future? You’re heading into the future.
God made you one of a kind. No one has ever, is now or will ever be just like you. What you lead is unique. There will never be a group with your calling and vision to change lives like the one you lead. What is my unique calling? What’s my unique package of gifts, personality, passions, and pizzazz? If you haven’t boiled your vision down to a sentence of eight words or less you have work to do.
Fix your eyes on THE arrival point.
What’s the point? It’s the same thing farmers focus on when they are plowing the ground. When they fix on the point they are able to make a straight furrow. Without a fixed, unmoving point they are bound to plow in crooked lines.
Keep your eyes on the road.
It’s easy, natural even, to veer off to the side as we drive forward. What’s a leader to do short of strangling any who try to drift your vision?
Keep your hands on the steering wheel.
There are no self-driving Tesla-like visions that drive themselves. Those don’t exist. Without someone, that is you, the leader steering things.
People will gladly volunteer to take charge of your steering wheel.
It’s impossible for a committee to steer a car with any effectiveness. Several people grabbing for the steering wheel is a recipe for a crash.
Visit and restate your vision summary frequently
“Frequently” means “at least once a month” repeat the sentence that clarifies your direction. Elaborate on the vision as fits. You don’t want to share too much too soon or at the wrong time.
Communicate and celebrate your progress on the trip
Tell your progress stories. No one can see progress as you can. Your people need updating.
I may not know you but I know something about you – Jesus has called you to something big. What he does is always big but it usually requires only a little from us. Keep your hands on the steering wheel. Put on your seat belt as well – as God begins to move