I grew up having horrible eyesight. Throughout elementary school I struggled seeing the board, seeing the clock, making out details, etc. It was awful! I needed glasses, and not the cool, “hipster” glasses. No. What my family could afford was the super thick, metal frame, huge lens, old man glasses. It was not pretty…and not even close to “cute”. Yet, I did not need style to fix the situation. Instead, I needed the proper set of lenses so that I could achieve the best focus.
Vision has a huge significance on helping us get from where we are to where we need to go. Without my lenses, I cannot make out any details unless it is inches from my face. I cannot look forward with confidence, and at many times I sit still for fear of what I might trip over or step on. At night, when I’m not wearing my glasses, I walk around my house slowly with hands out to feel where walls, chairs, beds, end tables, etc., are placed so as to avoid breaking a toe. I have bad vision without the proper lenses.
In ministry this works the same way. For the fortunate leaders who have 20/20 vision, I envy you. But many of us need help in achieving 20/20 vision. In my personal ministry, vision works with me placing myself in the right frame of mind and sight. Without the proper set of lenses, I cannot achieve the greatest sight potential for my ministry. In other words, I can’t look forward, peripheral, or detailed. So why is the right set of lenses important?
We have to able to look forward in our vision for ministry. If we are not enabled to look forward, then we find ourselves searching aimless with our hands out, seeking our destination and grabbing for anything that might help us better understand where we are presently. We begin to pick up books, materials, mentors, etc., to help us further understand our present situation and how we can best seek God to find out where He is moving in our ministry. Discovering resources is great for helping guide our programs with a proper Christ-Centered Vision. But the key to all of this is making sure that you are looking forward. If young adult, collegiate, and youth culture are going to continue to push forward, so must we! This is not to say that some former practices, traditions, and programs should be thrown out the window, but rather they should be challenged against your God’s vision through the proper lenses. Ask yourself questions like, “Is Wednesday night youth still necessary? Is there something that we can put in place of…? Does a visitation program fall in the vision for this ministry? Is spending money on large events to attract students/parents/collegiate/etc. a part of the vision Christ has for us?” You have to answer those questions personally according to how God is leading your ministry, but we need to make sure that every so often we check our senses. We do not want to continue to do something “just because that’s how we’ve always done it” and in turn immobilize ourselves or our ministry because we cannot see five feet in front of us.
I cannot stress enough the importance of peripheral vision in ministry. Many times in my personal walk and ministry, Satan has not attacked me in front of my face. He’s too much of a coward to let me see him coming. Satan instead attacks me from the side, flanking my spiritual and ministerial weaknesses. In turn, I find myself doubting my worth or effectiveness in ministry because my focus has become misguided. It’s important that when you begin to properly establish a Christ-Centered vision, you factor in the attacks that might come from any angle. If you are moving in a direction that God has for you, then you cannot avoid attacks from Satan and his many devices. Proper lenses help me achieve better peripheral vision, which in turn helps me become more aware of spiritual warfare surrounding my ministry and life. When I think of sin in my life I refer back to Genesis in the story of Cain and Abel. As God recognizes the impending disaster of life between brothers, he encourages Cain at the end of Genesis 4:7, “And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” (ESV) We cannot escape the presence of temptation. We must center our sights on Christ, so that our awareness of temptation, and its desire to consume our life to the point of sin, gives us hope that through Jesus Christ we can rule over sin. Spiritual warfare can kill a vision and a ministry if it is not fought with a correct vision and plan. When you fight battle with correct vision, you must also lead your team to understand that Satan is on the prowl, so as to make sure that everyone is fighting Satan and not each other.
The ability to make out details is crucial to ministry. Casting a vision without a plan is like going fishing without a pole, net, boat, tackle, or whatever. Every detail is important, even the flexible ones. Flexible details give you a starting point to alter the plan to better suite the vision God has given you. In other words, if you say that you are moving away from traditional Wednesday night worship to community groups, have the details of what that will look like. Are you going to do host homes? Are you meeting at the local coffee shop? Who is leading the studies? How will you break up groups? Does everyone involved need background checks? Do students lead, college students, adult leaders, etc.? Details are important! If God gives you a vision – to seek Him, serve the church, and serve your community – make sure that you spend ample time working out the details. No one wants to follow a leader into battle who has no clue who he’s fighting, why he’s fighting, and where they are being led. If that’s your approach to battle, you will die!! However, the leader who can lay out the details for his army and position them correctly according to their gifts, has a far greater chance of success than the leader who has no vision, direction, or plan of attack.
Proper lenses achieve optimal focus. And with optimal focus comes sight or vision. Remember that your vision is not designed to help you become successful. It’s not designed for you at all. It’s design is for the Kingdom of God and the advancement of that Kingdom. We fight a mutual enemy in Satan and the sin that seeks to devour our lives. So let us spend quality time with our Maker, asking Him to give us a clear vision for battle and advancement of the Kingdom across this beautiful creation He has gifted us with. Peace be with you.