Note: This was an article I wrote for my alma mater’s book (IGSL, formerely ISOT-Asia, entitled ”Lessons from the Field”) sometime in 2010 I think. It’s quite long so I will post them in three parts. Hope you enjoy reading this!
No More Guilt
Let me share the role that vision has played in my prayer life.
Prayer is not my strong suit, and I say that to my shame. One time, I heard leadership guru John Maxwell mention his “thinking chair,” the place where he does his thinking and reflection. Encouraged by this, I got my own thinking chair (a Lazy Boy, actually) and, without feeling guilty, that’s where I now do my praying, thinking, dreaming, and reflecting simultaneously. Instead of my usual 15 minutes of praying, my “prayer time” now stretches to at least an hour. I will be hard pressed to pin down exactly when my praying stops and when my “daydreaming” begins, but for me the important thing is that I do all these activities “in the presence of the Lord.” I consider them all part of my prayer routine.
Now I no longer hang my head in shame when others ask me how long I pray or how my prayer life is. I can honestly say my time of prayer is the thing I most anticipate and look forward to each and every day.
Vision Comes Home
I have a confession to make.
My biggest sin is that I’m a good leader at church but a poor one at home. It hurts to admit it but that’s the truth. But now I’m starting to apply my “visioneering” (a term Andy Stanley coined and is the title of one of his books) capacities in my own home. I have seen so many casualties in too many ministers’ homes. I vow that my family won’t be next. The Apostle Paul warns us, “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim. 5:8 NIV).
All these years, my wife has been the chief provider for our home. I challenged myself to become one, since that is my God-ordained responsibility to my family. If God could use me in the lives of others, surely He can do the same in my own household!
I envision my family serving God together like Joshua (Joshua 24:15b), raising and mentoring an entire generation to be on fire for the Lord!
I envision God providing for all of our needs through the ministry!
I envision my wife enjoying her role as a full-time housewife, raising our kids to be champions for Jesus!
I envision my three daughters not despising the ministry, but loving it and giving their life to God in faithful service because they saw it lived out firsthand in the lives of their dad and mom!
Life at its best is when a pastor is blessed in his work in the church, and doubly blessed in his domestic life!
Vision Begets Vision
Because of the sovereignty of God, the church I pastor is made up of mostly young professionals and college students. It’s been said that Christianity is one generation away from extinction. That may be true, but I believe the opposite is also true—Christianity is one generation away from being revived!
I don’t subscribe to the gloom and doom scenario of eschatology. I used to, but not anymore. I believe the future is bright because we are committed to raising up a whole new generation of Christians who love the Lord with all their heart, serve with all their might, and live purposeful, and yes, visionary lives, and they will storm the gates of hell and populate heaven.
I’m still relatively young, but I believe it’s never too early to think of leaving a legacy. My legacy, if there ever be one, lies in the disciples and young leaders I’m mentoring. I tell my leaders, “If you don’t learn anything else from me, except to dream big, think big, and pray big because we have a big God, then I consider our mentoring well worth it.”
I believe in teaching our people faith, instead of fear. I believe in modeling optimism, not negativism. I believe in praying boldly, not meekly. I believe tomorrow can be better than today because God is already present in the future. I believe if we teach our people vision, to dream and create a God-honoring future, the world will see and experience the greatest spiritual revival yet.
My favorite definition of leadership comes from one of my favorite author and pastor, Erwin McManus. He characterizes leaders as those “who create the future.”
So what are we waiting for? I’m doing my part in helping train an entire army of visionaries for God.
Who’s afraid of the future? Not me. Bring it on. The best is yet to come!