Developing Vision for Non-Visionaries

Here's a summary of an article on the subject you might find helpful. To get the whole thing, click on the title (he gives some great examples in the full version).

Developing a Vision When You're Not a Visionary
It's easier than you think.
by Kevin Miller

My wife, Karen, and I are both in leadership at our church. So dinner-table discussions often come back to how to help other Christians step into leadership. Volunteers tell us, "I might be willing to facilitate, but I'm not sure I'm a leader." People don't consider themselves leaders, because when they say leader, they think of only one type: a strong, visionary leader. And they know they're not that.

But you don't have to be a visionary to lead well. We've found we can help people move forward as leaders when we say to them, "You can develop a vision even if you're not a visionary." Here are six ways that mortals like us can see where a group needs to go:

1. Tie in to a bigger vision that's already in place. First, ask, "Do I even need to come up with a complete vision from scratch?" Chances are, you don't need to. In most situations, a leader earlier on or higher up has already set a vision, and you can tie what you're doing into that.

Barb is taking on the women's ministry at our church. Does she need to create a vision? Not really. First, her ministry is part of a church, and churches have been going on for 2,000 years and already have a vision: to make disciples through worship, fellowship, teaching, prayer, missions, etc. Second, her ministry is part of our local church, which already has a vision to "Build a sanctuary of transformation" (read: "Become a place where people's lives change for the better because of God"). And finally, Barb's inheriting a women's ministry that already has a vision to encourage women and help them draw closer to God...

2. Pray and wait on God. ...What does it look like? That varies.

Maybe you'll be reading Scripture, and the particular section captivates you... Or you may be inspired by someone else's ministry... Or maybe you'll literally have a middle-of-the-night experience...

3. Gather a group and jointly develop a vision.
When I used to take on a new role at work or church, I would (a) gather a group, (b) cast my vision for this area, (c) see who got on board with the vision.

Then I noticed that my wife did things differently. She would (a) gather a group, (b) talk and pray with all of them, until they all jointly came up with a vision, (c) not worry about who got on board, because they already were on board. When people come up with the vision, they want to help make it happen....

4. Listen to the people you want to help. You don't have to be great at coming up with vision, if you're willing to listen to the people you want to help. If you listen well, people will tell you what they really need. In other words, the people you want to serve help set your vision.

5. Stay in your gifts and let them guide you.
...ask yourself, "What has God given me? What passions? What skills? What opportunities? What concerns?"...

6. Solve some problem right in front of you. Often vision is born by passing through the narrow and dark birth canal of problems. You see the problem, and you start to work on it. You don't necessarily feel inspired or see lights. All you are doing is trying to solve some problem right in front of you. But later, everyone else says, "What a great vision!"

The Bible's classic example is Nehemiah. ...Nehemiah was simply trying to solve one problem right in front of him.

Bringing your vision to fulfillment. Once you've got your vision, through one or more of the six ways listed above, do something with it...

...In Acts 20:24, the apostle Paul says, "I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me." Bill Hybels comments on this verse: "What is Paul saying? I think he's saying, 'The moment I received my vision from God, fulfilling that vision became the pressing priority of my life.'"

Kevin A. Miller is a vice-president for Christianity Today International and assistant pastor for Church of the Resurrection in Wheaton, Illinois.

This article originally appeared on Gifted for Leadership, Christianity Today International's website and blog for women who have the spiritual gift of leadership.