The steps to losing your Vision are really quite simple once you understand exactly what it is that you’re trying to lose.
By Vision, I am referring to that lens through which you look into the future and make some attempt to aim at or achieve something. It is also that encompassing ideal… that faint wisp of a concept upon which you have based your life’s work, be it ministry or otherwise. Vision is like cancer to the uninitiated and candy to the idealist.
Like I said, the steps to losing your Vision are simple. All you have to do is dry up, disengage, and detach. It really is that easy! And I chose three ‘D’ words to help you remember.
Ministries are like toothpaste tubes – they work great when there’s a steady flow of ideas and activity, but when the tube runs out the spout gets crusty and corroded. It takes more effort to squeeze out what’s left and you end up with a smaller result for the strain. God’s work is about being creative and innovative. If it weren’t, there wouldn’t be a dynamic range of ministries. We’d all be doing the same things, reaching the same people, working in the same places. Thankfully ministry is dynamic. It’s full of life, color, and variety. God’s work is always like that. (I cite the Earth as Exhibit A and mankind as Exhibit B.) Where one ministry ends, another begins. If one organization ministers to women, another works on the men. One might focus on providing medicine to a deprived group of people, while another helps to deprive a different group of the drugs they’ve been addicted to. I’d venture a guess that there aren’t many areas of the world – geographically and socially – that we haven’t reached in some capacity. So at least we have saturation on our side. But we must continue to innovate and find new ways of reaching the lost or we’ll dry up, get crusty, and eventually get tossed.
I love the word ‘engage.’ The root word ‘gage’ in it’s verb form means to “offer a thing or one’s life as a guarantee of good faith.” In it’s noun form it refers to the thing that one would offer in that same pledge – an object of value. It was also used to refer to the glove thrown to the ground to symbolize a challenge to fight. Oh the implications! I just love this! What a literary gold mine! Just think of it… to be engaged in work, especially in ministry, means that you are offering your life, or something of value, as a guarantee of good faith that you are up for the task. It means that you are willing to sacrifice and do what must be done to accomplish your work. And it proclaims that you’re ready for a fight, that the gloves are off, and that you’re not going down easy. Are you hearing this? This is hard core stuff. And the benefits far outweigh the value of what you put in because they’re eternal.
I hate the word ‘disengage’. It’s the same as the word ‘engage’ but with a resounding ‘DIS’ in front of it. It means you wussed out. You sacrificed your ground, your fight, and probably your glove. Losing is different… it implies that you actually fought. But disengagement means you turned around and ran like a yellowbelly. This may be the worst thing you can do in ministry. Because when you’re disengaged, you can only be running away from God, into the hands of the Enemy.
You know that look in a person’s eyes when they’re daydreaming. And then you wave your hands in front of their face and say “Hellooo? Where’d you go?” That’s a form a detachment. It’s a disconnect between the life you’re actually living and the one you’re dreaming about. This same thing happens to ministry workers – we become detached. We can go about our daily tasks like we’re in a trance, but we’re thinking about the greener grass in a different ministry, or a different line of work. We remove ourselves from the reality of our situation and think of the things that might make us happy. What happens then is that seeds of discontent and resentment are sown, and they grow up around us like thickets and thorns, suffocating the rays of light bit by bit.
Detachment can be addictive. It can become our defense mechanism when things get tough at work. We just take a hit of detachment to soften the edge a bit. But each time we need more and more. Soon we’re just shells sitting at a computer, or standing behind a podium, regurgitating the words we’d formerly spoken with passion and zeal. When the passion leaves us, and we don’t pursue it, we begin to empty. And then, like a used up fuel tank on a space shuttle, we detach, and float off into the endless void.
If you think this all seems rather melodramatic, sadly you’re wrong. It’s actually rather understated. I’ve merely given you three simple steps to lose the Vision of your ministry. I haven’t even touched on the disastrous effects this can have. Maintaining and communicating Vision within your organization is imperative because it sets the goal line. The better you cast the Vision and the more effort you put into helping people understand it, the less likely it is that you’ll face these issues in your work.
Vision is supposed to be unattainable in a Christian ministry, so set your goals high and lofty – then jump like a lollipop-obsessed three-year-old at the bank counter to achieve them.