6 Essentials of Leadership - Part 5 - VISION

3 things that make a vision

On 25 May 1961, a leader with a vision changed the world forever, setting in motion one of the most fascinating and unforgettable events in recent history. John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, stood before Congress and declared, “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.”

A man on the moon. By the end of the decade. His vision was clear, his vision was audacious, his vision was cast, and everyone knew it. JFK would not live to see his vision fulfilled, but in 1969, as Buzz Aldrin first set his foot on the surface of the moon, history was made and the world was changed forever. And it all started with a vision.

Vision is and must always be an indispensable fundamental in every leader’s arsenal because leadership without vision is management. Now management is important, but it is not leadership. Management is a kind of stewardship. Management cares for what is.

But leadership is not about maintenance, it’s about movement. Leadership is focused on what could be and should be. And so, if we don’t have a clear picture of where we are going, how can we be leading?

Jesus expressed this by saying, “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit?” (Luke 6:39). Thus, there is no leadership without vision.

The wise leader King Solomon reminds us that, ‘Where there is no vision, the people perish.’ (Proverbs 29:18, KJV.) The word translated here as ‘perish’ comes from the Hebrew, para’, which can be accurately translated as to ‘go back’.

Read in this way, the need for a God-ordained vision becomes immediately apparent. Without vision the people we are leading go backward! They lose energy, passion and verve. They stop pursuing the things God has planned for them, and the people - who are the church - perish.

But vision creates energy that moves people into action. Pastor Bill Hybels writes, “Vision is the fuel that leaders run on. It’s the energy that creates action. It’s the fire that ignites the passion of followers. It’s the clear call that sustains focussed effort year after year, decade after decade, as people offer consistent and sacrificial service to God.”

So what is God’s vision for your youth ministry? What is your vision for the young people you serve? Can you immediately articulate it in one sentence? If not, you have some work (and more importantly, prayer) to do! So let’s get started by considering…

3 things that make a vision a vision

1. Measurable

If your vision is not measurable, how can you tell when your vision has become a reality? Remember JFK? “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon”

So in formulaic terms, vision looks like this: X to Y by When.

And this is the difference between your mission and your vision. Mission is about what you do, vision is about where you are going.

For example, at Limitless our mission is to ‘reach young people, equip youth leaders and inspire dynamic youth ministry through the local church.’ It’s what we do. Where as our vision is to ‘pioneer 100 new youth ministries through churches who are not currently reaching young people in the next 10 years.’ It’s a measurable destination. It’s where we are going.

What would it look like to move your dreams for your youth ministry from a concept to a target?

2. Easy to understand

Complexity is the enemy of vision. If you cannot explain your vision in one sentence, then it is too complex to succeed. The success of your vision depends on people embracing it, and people don’t embrace paragraphs, they embrace sentences. Andy Stanley reminds us that, “It is better to have a vision statement that is incomplete and memorable than to have one that is complete and forgettable.”

If your vision is unclear to you, it will never be clear to the people in your team or youth group. As theologian Howard Hendricks said, “If it's a mist in the pulpit, it's a fog in the pew!” So keep it simple!

3. God-sized

God-honouring visions are God-sized visions. They are Big Hairy Audacious Goals! If your vision doesn’t scare you, it’s too small! Why? Because when you dream too small you rob God of the opportunity to show up! If you want to experience the supernatural, you have to attempt something that is beyond your natural ability.

So what is your ‘man-on-the-moon’ sized vision for your youth ministry? What are you attempting that you cannot possibly do unless God shows up? Because that’s when God shows up!

Questions for reflection:

  • Am I able to accurately describe “where we are now”?
  • Do I have a clear, measurable, audacious vision for “where we are going”?
  • Do I determine my personal scheduling and youth ministry programme according to that vision?
  • Am I quick to identify and say ‘no’ to non-vision-centred activity?
  • Am I able to passionately describe and gather others around my vision?


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Director of LIMITLESS

Tim Alford lives in Malvern with is wife Jen, son Tobijah and daughter Aria.

He is the National Director of LIMITLESS, the youth movement of Elim Pentecostal Churches in the UK and Ireland. He is a passionate communicator of the gospel, having spoken at churches, conferences, schools and events all over the world. Tim is the former frontman of [dweeb], a frustrated supporter of Arsenal, and has on more than one occasion been to the cinema in Star Wars fancy dress.


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