“Everything rises or falls on leadership.”
It’s an axiom that bears repeating – because we forget.
“If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; But when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed.” (Proverbs 29:18 AMP)
My cell group overseer (a leader over a cluster of cell groups) said to us as our season together was drawing to an end: “Dream teams don’t stay as dream teams; they go out and make their own.”
That phrase, for me, captured the essence of her vision for those under her leadership.
My leader had a keen sense of the future and would help us understand what God was doing – not only in our local church but also in the wider Church overseas.
She would tell us about what she was learning and hearing from God, which would grow our personal understanding – as well as curiosity – of what God is doing. There was the unmistakable quality of vision in her leadership.
1. ENVISION: WHERE IS GOD TAKING YOUR TEAM?
Vision in the spiritual landscape is concerned with where God wants His people.
Caleb had a good report for the land of Canaan (the Promised Land) which he scouted with 11 other leaders of the Israelites.
Now the 12 leaders didn’t disagree on what they saw – a land flowing with milk and honey (Numbers 13:27) – but they disagreed on their next step.
Except for Joshua and Caleb, the other leaders were convinced that they couldn’t conquer the land: “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” (Numbers 13:31)
The people who listened to the 10 leaders lost hope and their eyes fell away from the land that God was bringing them towards.
“Why is the LORD bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt? And they said to each other, ‘We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.’” (Numbers 14:3-4)
The enormity of the vision will challenge, but the promise behind the vision will also comfort.
However, Caleb’s vision of the future was strengthened because he, unlike the 10 spies, took to heart what God had done for them and what He said He would do.
“I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey…” (Exodus 3:8)
In looking to the future, it’s also vital that God’s leaders look back – to the pillar of fire and cloud (Exodus 13:21-22), the parting of the Red Sea (Exodus 14:29-31) and the waters of Marah (Exodus 15:23-25) – at God’s faithful hand and presence in their lives.
The team with a unified, God-given vision is a force to be reckoned with.
2. CAUGHT THE VISION? NOW EMPHASISE IT
By now we’d have garnered that the Israelites were a mighty forgetful bunch. Are we not at all the same? Vision cannot be repeated enough; it must be communicated all the time.
Make it visual. Make it memorable. Make it simple.
We all have our own prejudices or ways of interpretation, and communication doesn’t get through perfectly or completely each time. Communication is always a process.
It’s a process that Paul understands, and he doesn’t tire of communicating what he finds crucial for the benefit of those who were under his care.
“Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you.” (Philippians 3:1)
The spies who spread the bad report about Canaan were so good at it that they convinced the whole community that it would be better to go back into slavery.
How can we better spread the good report?
Joshua and Caleb reminded the Israelites: “If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us.” (Numbers 14:8)
Whether you’re leading 1 or 100, your task as a leader is to remind your followers of where they’re headed. The enormity of the vision will challenge, but the promise behind the vision will also comfort.
If we’re obeying God’s voice, we’re never alone.
The leader’s task is to clarify the vision so people know at all times that God is doing something and we must get behind it.
3. HANDS TO PLOUGH: EQUIP PEOPLE TO FULFIL THE VISION
My cell group overseer repeated her vision enough – she said it in meetings and private conversations alike – so I knew that she desired to see the teenagers under her care function in their God-given gifts and talents.
Her vision led her to empower her people to use their gifts to serve one another in capacities and ways that they could – whether at a cell group or church level.
Leader, your vision gives direction on how resources should be organised. There ought to be an alignment in what you’re doing and what you wish to see.
It would have been terrible if my leader desired to see us flourish in our gifts yet created no opportunities or ways for us to grow in our gifts.
Lastly, no matter what your vision is – no saint is considered fully equipped without the transforming breath of Scripture in them.
John Piper reminds us: “We must remember that leaders are aiming to change hearts, not just to get jobs done.”
Scripture is to be used to teach, rebuke, correct and train God’s servant so they might be thoroughly equipped for every good work they are called towards (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
- Teach: Instill correct understanding
- Rebuke: Convict of error
- Correct: Rectify wrong behaviour
- Train: Cultivate right ways of living
Nobody said leadership was easy right? But remember, whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task (1 Timothy 3:1).
May God strengthen and be with you as you desire to lead His people well and grow in spiritual leadership.
If you have lessons you’ve learnt about spiritual leadership that can encourage someone else, do send your stories to [email protected]. We’d love to hear them!