Did Jesus say, “Go therefore and cast your vision”?
Or, “Go therefore and make vision-casting leaders of all nations”?
No, He said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19–20).1
We are instructed to do many things in the teachings of both the Old and New Testaments, but requirements to have a vision or to cast one just simply are not there.
So, please allow me to make a clarifying statement at the outset: A goal is something that we humans set for ourselves to accomplish, either individually or as an organization. Its origin is in the world. “I am going to lose ten pounds this year.” “Our company needs to sell ten thousand widgets in the first quarter.” No aversion from this author to setting goals, which is often necessary to get something done, even the smallest of tasks: “I’m going to put in a new sink, and here’s how I’m going to do it.” A vision or heavenly encounter, however, is every different. A vision is communicated to the hearer or seer and lets him or her know what God Himself, by Himself, is going to do.
Huge difference. One relies upon God’s sovereignty, and His ability and power, while the other depends up human sovereignty, ability, and power.
Two entirely different things.
However, in the contemporary church, the word “vision” has been replaced or co-mingled by the word “goal,” and it’s misleading. Biblically misleading.
Why is it, then, that a lot of contemporary pastors are telling their people that their leaders must have a vision for their churches?
Before we deal with how many Christians will respond to this question with a verse from Proverbs (more on this in a subsequent post), here are two real-life, gritty answers which I wish weren’t true but are:
It is monumentally easier to teach someone principles about vision-casting leadership than it is to disciple someone, as Jesus told us to, face-to-face, over time. One of these techniques is framed within an organizational construct, the other within a relational one. Dealing with people, face-to-face, with all of their issues, is always messier. Teaching principles while standing in front of a group will always be less problematic and demanding. We have an outline. We have lessons 1 through 10. We move through them. I teach, you listen. Very few relational problems are likely to come to bear in such a setting.
The second answer, which is related to the first, is that it is also prodigiously easier to teach business-based principles about goal-setting than to rely instead upon the sovereignty of God, who may not proceed with a goal according to a timetable established by people. It may not be God’s will that a church meets certain “vision-cast” goals within a given time period.
You’re probably familiar with the saying, “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.” This is good advice from a motivational speaker about personal and/or business goals, but it has nothing whatsoever to do with Christian discipleship.
Christian discipleship may get as much accomplished in the same amount of time as human-based business goal-setting. Most importantly of all, however, is that one of these methods is directly obedient to the Lord and the other is suspect.
More next time.
1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.