As a kid, I wanted to be a lot of things. For a while I wanted to be a cowboy. Then, I wanted to be an FBI agent until I found out the requirements for being an agent, and I didn’t want to do that anymore. I wanted to be a baseball player, and then I wanted to be a mechanic and work on cars. My ideas of what I wanted to do kept changing as I grew up because of what I heard about these things. Hearing about something is exciting. It creates a desire within you to do or be what you’re hearing about.
I wanted to be somebody . . . do something . . . and go somewhere in life. But I found out that wanting to do something isn’t enough. Nothing is automatic in this life. I had to make some decisions. I had to wake up and go do the right things that would cause me to end up being or doing what I wanted to do.
Going through life is not like it’s portrayed in the movies. The comedy movie, Mr. Magoo, depicts Quincy Magoo as having very bad eyesight and consequently getting into a lot of trouble but he finally comes out on top and everything is great. However, in real life, you cannot act like blind Mr. Magoo and expect to come out on top! The truth is, living like that will keep you from reaching your goals and living the life that God has for you. Fulfilling your purpose in life involves understanding the need for a vision and then taking steps to implement that vision into your life and your church or ministry.
Proverbs 29:18 (KJV) states that “Where there is no vision, the people perish . . .” The word “vision” in other translations is “revelation (NKJV), “guidance” (CEV), or “prophetic insight” (ESV). God wants to help you develop a vision for your life, or your business, or your church. God is a great planner—before the foundations of the world He planned out His creation! He also spent around 1,500 years assigning different individuals to write down His vision for mankind and put it into a book called the Bible. You can count on it—every word written in the Bible will come to pass!
The truth is, every person who is considered one of the “great people of the Bible” dared to implement and then act on the vision—revelation, guidance, prophetic insight—that God gave to them. Abraham dared to leave his country to go to another land. Moses became the deliverer of Israel. Noah dared to build a boat according to God’s instructions. David became a king. The disciples became fishers of men. Mary gave birth to the Son of God. Paul became a crusader for Christ.
Often people get excited when they hear about having a vision but they never implement a vision for their life or ministry.
Here are four reasons that contribute to this:
- It is easier to hear about having a vision than to implement a vision. Life is kind of like a football game—lots of people are excited about football and love to watch the game, but only a few pay the price to practice so they can implement the plays needed to participate in the game. These people are also the only ones who get paid. In any profession, the people who will achieve anything significant are those who actually develop a vision of their future, and then take action steps accordingly. Disillusionment and deception occur when a person hears about something, gets excited about it, and then never does anything to attain it. (James 1:22)
- Some think that developing a vision would limit what God could do for them. Lots of spiritual, well meaning believers do not focus specifically on what God has planned for them. They often say, “I just want whatever the Lord has for me” or “All things are possible with God.” These people have the wrong idea of how God works. Without implementing a vision, you will experience very little of God’s plan. God’s plan includes certain things for individuals or ministry, and through implementing a vision you can focus on and attain these things.
- Some people (and churches) are too busy taking care of today’s problems to implement vision for their future. Many people are caught up in the daily grind, only dealing with their immediate problems, and mostly live reactionary to their current circumstances. They never take a portion of today to prepare for their tomorrow. Sadly, these peoples’ future will not be much different from what they have today.
- Some people or organizations do not want change. Joel Barker stated that “Those with the greatest vested interest in the present paradigm are least likely to see the new paradigm.” 1 Some people are busy defending their present position and are not interested in any kind of change. Other people’s goals are to get all their ducks in a row and keep them that way. But it’s like one person said, “I finally got all my ducks in a row, and then someone shot them.” The truth is, change will happen whether you are prepared for it or not. By implementing vision, you can be properly prepared for change when it happens, and it can lead you to a better life.
However, you may be one of those people who is excited about having a vision. You see the Biblical pattern of people following a vision. You may have pushed aside any excuses for not following God’s vision for your life. So what do you do next? It’s time to implement the vision into your life and ministry! Here are a few guidelines . . .
First, Identify Your Mission in Life.
Prayer and seeking God is necessary in the beginning stages of obtaining a godly vision. In this environment the Holy Spirit can communicate with you about your mission in life. Otherwise you may come up with a plan that leaves God out, and you won’t please Him. Ask God to show you why you exist. You need to know why you are here on this planet. Ask God what your calling is, and the purpose of your ministry is.
No one is born an accident in the mind of God. Every person has an assignment to fulfill. No ministry is raised up without God having a certain mission for them to accomplish. Frederick Buechner said, “The place where God calls you is where your deep gladness and the world’s hunger intersect.” 2 On the Damascus Road, God told Paul his mission in life—taking the Gospel to the Gentiles. Paul did not spend his life trying to do something different, or be like someone else. Later he wrote that he obeyed the heavenly vision (Acts 26:19), and that he had finished his course (2 Tim.4:7).
If it’s in your heart to do something or be in ministry, perhaps God gave you those thoughts. Proverbs 16:3 (NKJV) tells us “Commit your works to the Lord, and your thoughts will be established.” So God will direct your thoughts if you commit yourself to do what He wants. Once you hear from God concerning your purpose in life, write it down. Keep it in front of you and let it be a guiding light that directs your steps.
Next, Create a Dream Sheet of What You Can Visualize.
Next, after identifying your purpose in life, use your imagination to visualize what is needed to fulfill your purpose, and make a list of those items. This is your vision at the present time. Later it may change, but for now it is important that you begin to visualize all you can. Ask yourself some questions like the following. What do you want to do in life? What kind of work does this involve? Where do you have to live to fulfill your mission? How much money will this take? What successful people do you want to meet to help you? What places do you need to see that will provide input into fulfilling your mission? How much education or training do you need to accomplish your mission? What gifts and talents did God deposit within you to help you achieve your mission?
If you’re developing a vision for your church or ministry, make a list about what you can do in your community to fulfill your purpose. Dare to think big—take the attitude that money or resources are no obstacle. What kind of skills and giftings do the people in your organization have? What is positive about your location? What things can you do to change peoples’ lives? How can you reach the people in your community for Christ? How can you show the love of God to them? Instead of waiting for people to come to your church, how can you take the Gospel to the community?
The important thing is to write these things down. Habakkuk 2:2 (NKJV) tells us “Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak, and it will not lie.” In this setting God had given the prophet a revelation of future things concerning Israel. God told him to write it down, so that people could see it and follow it. Even though it may take awhile, yet it will surely come to pass. In the same way, what God speaks to you may take awhile to happen, but it will happen when you follow it.
As you write your dreams and thoughts on paper, they don’t have to be in a certain order—just get them on paper where you can see it. This makes your thoughts and dreams something real and concrete. Writing them down clarifies them in your mind and gives you a better perspective so you can make the right decisions. Remember, without a written plan not much will happen, and what does happen may be mostly accidental.
Actually, this is the way many things work in life. Before houses are built, a blueprint is drawn on paper. For effective production, a company has a written Standard Operating Procedures Manual or a Policies and Procedures Handbook. For cities and towns to be established, they have a city plan and laws written down. For the United States to become a country, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were written.
Finally, Put Time Lines with Each Item
Once you have your mission written down and made a list of thoughts and dreams, it is time to prioritize them. You cannot do everything at once, but to get started you must identify what to do first. Psalms 37:23 (NKJV) tells us, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord . . .” God leads us step by step into fulfilling our mission in life. He does not expect us to do everything overnight, but He does expect us to get started.
I suggest making four columns and labeling them “One Year Plan”, “Three Year Plan”, “Five Year Plan”, and Twenty Year Plan.” Put every item in your dream list in one of these columns. Now you have taken what you visualized and put them in a time frame of when it could happen. Certain things have to be done in the first year so that the things in the next three or five years can be done. Going someplace is accomplished by a series of steps. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time! Big things are accomplished by breaking it down into manageable steps.
Denis Waitley states that “successful people are at the right place at the right time to a great extent because they have learned to take certain action steps in proper sequence.” 3 This is especially important in order for your family or church people to follow you when you implement your vision. People can’t accomplish the vision in one giant leap, but they can take sequential steps in the right direction.
Another way to prioritize your dream list is to divide the items into categories under these three questions:
- What you have to do. These items should be your first priority to do. No ifs, ands or buts . . . you have got to do these things, whether you like to do them or not. These are non-negotiable things you must do just to survive and stay out of trouble.
- What you should do. This is a list of things that would benefit you and improve your life or organization if you did them. You can basically survive without doing these things but it would improve your life and organization if you did them.
- What you would like to do. Here is where everyone would like to live, but this is often not the real world. Consequently, these items should be your last priority. No matter what you do in life, there will be things you like to do and things you don’t like to do. Hopefully, developing your vision will enable you to be involved in something where there are more things you like than you dislike.
Prioritizing the items on your dream sheet will help you accomplish the right things at the right time. Timing Is Everything, Denis Waitley compares seasons of success with the seasons of the year: winter as a time of planning and dreaming, spring as a time to plant and start new things, summer as a time to continue building and persevering with the things you started, and finally, fall as a time of harvesting the fruit of your labors. In this way the progress of individuals, projects and, organizations is prioritized, and the appropriate actions can be taken at any given time.
Prioritizing can help you identify what is most important and valuable to you and your church or ministry. No matter how you choose to prioritize your dream list, you have to find a way to make sure you get the important things done. E. C. McKenzie stated that “it is extremely easy for us to give our major attention to minor things.” 4 By finding some way to prioritize your dream list, you turn dreams into written goals with a time line in which to achieve it.
In summary, having a vision and implementing it into your life is primarily so that you can please the Lord, and also do something that is satisfying and fulfilling in your heart. You cannot do everything, but God has enabled each one to do something valuable for the kingdom of God, and in so doing, enrich our own lives. George Barna said, “In all cases . . . a total commitment to God’s vision for your life is the most appropriate and the most honorable course of action.” 5 Let’s go do it!
1 Joel Barker, Leading When God Is Moving, Wayne Schmidt (Indianapolis: Wesleyan Publishing House, 1996) 11
2 Frederick Buechner, Leading When God Is Moving, Wayne Schmidt (Indianapolis: Wesleyan Publishing House, 1996) 27
3 E.C. McKensie, Leading When God Is Moving, Wayne Schmidt (Indianapolis: Wesleyan Publishing House 1996) 85
4 Denis Waitley, Timing Is Everything (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1992) 17
5 George Barna, Turning Vision Into Action (Ventura: Regal Books, 1996) 49