All of who serve in leadership have to come to grips with the critical nature of vision. In fact there is a sense in which leadership is all about vision; leadership is defined by the capacity to experience vision and communicate it in a way that invites a following. Leadership in the church is about describing what God reveals. It is more than mere human inspiration; it is about hearing God’s voice, seeing his plan in a particular situation, and sharing it with people. This is what pastoral leadership is about. This kind of leadership is truly inspiring and life-giving.
Thankfully, God has given us the objective revelation of his Word, but it is a work of his divine grace to also illuminate the heart of the shepherd to his revelation. This doesn’t happen incidentally. It comes about as the pastor leader takes time to seek the mind and heart of God in his Word regarding a particular application. It also comes by listening intently to the voice of the Spirit as he speaks his Word in the context of meditative prayer and Christian fellowship.
Vision is powerful; it has the capacity to bring life and direction to God’s people in a way that is truly amazing. Pastoral leaders with experience will testify to the amazing spiritual power that emanates from the apprehension and communication of true vision from God. Of course, this is what good preaching is really all about. It is that special ability from God to communicate his vision with power and authority. Good preaching casts vision for life and ministry. It is engaging and effective in moving God’s people to the fulfillment of his will.
But all who serve in pastoral leadership also know that ministry can become so taxing that vision easily becomes clouded and is even lost. Many of us get so busy with the daily demands of ministry that we don’t take time for spiritual vision renewal. And before we know it, we don’t even realize that it’s slipped away. When that happens communication with people becomes perfunctory and progress slows and even stops. For that reason it is important that leaders give constant attention to the renewal of vision for their own lives and for the churches God has called them to lead.
Besides taking time for daily contemplation with God in his Word and prayer it is important for pastors to have special seasons of refreshment of vision to lead. A weekly sabbath rest is essential to vision renewal. The idea of sabbath rest is the intentional plan to be renewed in vision through contemplation, recreation, and a withdrawal from regular ministry demands. Jesus did this. The Bible says that he often withdrew to spend time in prayer. And then there are those special Sabbaths that we should plan in order to take extra time to contemplate God’s greatness and grace in our lives.
In my pastoral experience I am finding that vision renewal is essential every day, every week, and every season of the year. Most of the time Monday offers a weekly opportunity for vision renewal. But there are those other times of the year when I try to take time to get away, to visit with a friend, or to retreat. Most important are those daily times of Bible reading, prayer, and journaling first thing in the morning to experience vision renewal. Right now I am blessed by the Psalms, by the life of Jacob in Genesis, and by Luke’s account of Jesus’ ministry. Praise God for the possiblity of vision renewal in the midst of all the stuff to deal with every week.