Elements of Vision (Part 6)
I recently heard an admired friend of mine, Pastor Tommy Barnett, make a powerful and penetrating statement:
"A person without vision will usually go back where he came from."
How true an observation this is! If a person has no zeal to pursue a
positive future, he will have little resistance against the draw of a
negative past. What pushes you forward must be stronger than all that tries
to drag you back. And without a doubt-true vision pushes the soul and puts
holy fire in the spirit. After receiving his 'wheel in the middle of the
wheel' vision, Ezekiel said:
"So the Spirit lifted me up and took me away, and I went…in the heat of
my spirit; but the hand of the LORD was strong upon me." (Ezekiel 3:14)
"This spirit-heat, this holy, consuming fire, is one of the main elements
that enables true visionaries to forget 'those things which are behind' and 'press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.'" (Ph. 3:14 KJV)
Four main elements that carry a vision from start to finish:
Prayerfully pursue divine insight concerning the goals God would have you to reach. Remember, it is far more important to have 'God ideas' than just 'good ideas.'
Develop a plan outlining how God would have you to attain your goal.
Maintain zeal to keep implementing this plan until success comes.
Make a long-term commitment to the process, and to the One who began the process in you.
Getting the idea-Be creative in your thinking. Be open to divine inspiration, especially during times of deep worship. Don't accept the error of sticking with something unsuccessful just because, "That's the way I've always done it." God has already promised, "Behold, I do a new thing" (Is. 43:19). This pledge He can and will fulfill daily, if we place ourselves in a receptive position.
Jack London said it beautifully: "Bring thoughts in and entertain them royally, for one of them may be the King and exalt you to honor." I like to add one word: "Bring thoughts in and entertain them royally, for one of them may be from the King and exalt you to honor." The King is constantly uttering His fresh decrees. Are you listening?
Developing the plan-You need a number of consecutive short-term plans that will get you to the long-term goal. Otherwise the task may overwhelm you. Set deadlines for both your short-term and long-term plans and do your best to reach them. Plan the work, then work the plan. Not only should you plan-you should prepare. H. Richard Hall, my chief mentor in ministry, once told me, "Decide what you want to be five years from now, and begin to live NOW how you think you would have to live THEN, and you will reach your goal." Remember, Benjamin Franklin warned, "He who fails to prepare, prepares to fail."
Some overly spiritual people may balk at the idea of developing a plan assuming that doing so steals from the spontaneity of divine leadership. However, even God had a 'plan' in the beginning before He started His great endeavor. (See Ac. 2:23, 1 Pt. 1:2) And most likely He had it divided up-'Day 1,' 'Day 2,' 'Day 3,' etc. If the omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, infinite God had a plan how much more should we finite human beings have a
Maintaining zeal-Three things keep the fire of zeal burning: (1) Daily rehearse the plan in your own heart. David said, "While I was musing, the fire burned." (Psalm 39:3) (2) Constantly articulate the plan to others. The more you convince others, the more you will convince yourself. (3) Pray. Seeking God always rekindles desire and instills fresh hope.
Making a long-term commitment-Tenacious, persevering people are the ones who win in the end. Those who gain our respect, who run at the head of the pack, are usually those who seemingly don't know how to quit, those who are 100% committed to the process.
Recently my heart was gripped with the story of the Panama Canal. The man chosen by Teddy Roosevelt to oversee this project knew the danger he would face (malaria and yellow fever took many lives in that endeavor). He knew the length of the project (it took ten years to finish). He knew he might not return alive. But he said, "Yes" to the call. When he packed his belonging to go down to Central America, part of his shipment included two
caskets: one for him and one for his wife...just in case. That's commitment! And for what cause? Just building a passageway from one ocean to another. Should we not be even more committed? We are building a passageway from time into eternity for those who hear our words?