10 Ways to Reignite Your Vision for MinistryJune 29, 2013
We all know it is imperative for leaders to have and maintain a vision. “The most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight” said Helen Keller, “but has no vision.” Vision is what distinguishes the leader from the follower. It is the one thing that differentiates the average traveler from the informed, observant driver: the ability to see up ahead.
Vision is especially important in pastoral ministry. As a pastor I am not only preparing for this Sunday, I am preparing for the Sunday 5, 10, 20 years from now. Mel Lawrenz hits on this notion in his book Spiritual Influence. He says, “Sometimes, instead of asking if our vision is big enough, we should be asking, Is it far enough? The best work we can do is so big, so important, so visionary, that it cannot be completed in a lifetime.”
This kind of vision is more than coming up with ideas, or mimicking what other successful men are doing. True vision is given from the Lord. It is guided by the convicting power of the Holy Spirit as we yield our hearts and minds to Him. As George Barna contends, “Vision for ministry is a clear mental image of a preferable future imparted by God to his chosen servants and is based upon an accurate understanding of God, self, and circumstances.”
Certainly all of this sounds good, and right but there is another reality
….there have been times when my vision has been blurred.
I am not necessarily talking about for souls, or people, or preaching; I am talking about having a skewed understanding of what is next. There are plateaus, there are battle grounds, there are valleys, and it is during those dark seasons of life and ministry that we squint for light. Here are a few ways to reignite vision for your church, your ministry, your calling, your family, and your life in general.
1. Evaluate Your Walk with Christ
This is not always the case, but many times our greatest issue is that we are not spending enough personal time with the Lord. Having a vision is irrelevant and improbable if you’re struggling in your relationship with Christ.
2. See Your Community in their Hopelessness
God designed the local church to be just that- a place where the nearby community can be reached with the good news of Christ. Perhaps you have become stagnant in reaching out to those around you. Seek new ways to spread the gospel to the community. Have big days such as Friend and Family Day, Open-House Sunday, Community-Forces Day, and let the community know you are there as a beacon of God’s light.
3. Study Your Calendar
Maybe your vision has been lost because it has been overtaken by an active, non-relenting, got-to-get-to-the-next-stop calendar. Study your weekly activities and see how many of those activities are rooted in biblical, spiritual, and helpful causes. We can be so busy for the Lord that we fail to be busy with the Lord. By the way, it is ok to eliminate events and meetings that clutter your vision.
4. Take a Day Off, or a Month
The pastor is ALWAYS on the go, and there is nothing wrong with that. But sometimes we just need to cut off the phone, step away from the study, and take a day with family. Some men may not agree with me on this, but I believe it is good for the pastor, and the congregation, to have a Sunday off from time to time. I have been instructed down through the years by some older preachers to step away from the daily grind in order to renew and refresh your strength. I cannot tell you how many times I have left for vacation feeling depleted and disoriented only to come back recharged with zeal and fresh insight. I personally believe it is better to take a lengthy sabbatical than to leave prematurely.
5. Have a Gospel-Based Ministry
One of the reasons we get fatigued is because we do too many things that make no eternal difference. The gospel must be central to everything we do. All pastors want to be successful, but too often we measure success by the size of buildings, or the offering totals. The ultimate goal for all men of God is to lift up Jesus. The reason we lose our vision is because we get our eyes off Him.
6. Get Input from Your Team and Family
If you are having trouble, ask those around you for help. This should not be a time for “preacher-bashing” but it can be a time when extra eyes can help readjust your vision. Ask carefully and listen intently. Don’t ever think you are above advice or suggestions.
7. Hang Out with the Youth Group
One of the biggest ways to look into the future is to align yourself with people who will be there with you to see the vision fulfilled. Make investments in your young people. Understand their needs, their circumstances, their challenges, and build a ministry that is centered on being relevant without embracing compromise. Spend a week teaching the young people of your church; their lives may be what your eyes need.
8. Assess Your Priorities and Adjust if Necessary
Don’t get upset with this statement but…you may have your priorities in the wrong place. All that we do should be primarily for the honor and glory of God. In the name of building churches some men are only trying to build a name. Connecting your purpose with His Glory is the essence of life. Do everything with the mind to glorify Christ.
9. Attempt Things Only God Can Do
As William Carey said, “Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.” Small-minded thinking results in small-vision ministry. Don’t limit God to your efforts, ability, or potential. Don’t judge your ministry by the standards of men. Embrace the bigness of God and attempt something so large that once it is finished only He can get the credit.
10. Understand God’s Timing
God doesn’t work on our time table. Sometimes the dream takes longer than expected, and as a result the vision becomes hazy. God gave Joseph a dream, a vision if you will, and it took over 20 years to come to pass. God is working behind the scene. Don’t lose heart man of God; ask God to reignite your vision and trust in Him alone to adjust the lenses of your life.