When we speak of vision, some of us get intimidated and others of us get excited. When talking about people possessing vision, we tend to classify them into categories: those that are incredible visionaries and those that struggle with vision. I feel like there is a mystery that surrounds this topic and I hope to clear things up for you! (No pun intended)
#1. Everybody Has Vision
The reality is everybody has a vision. We all have a picture of what we want our lives to look like. Wether you are a stay at home mom, a college student, a young entrepreneur, or a minister, there is a level of success you are aspiring to. What does success look like for you? That visual is essentially your vision.The question is not wether or not you have a vision, but how big is the vision you have.
#2. A Big Vision Keeps You Moving
Vision has to be bigger than daily, weekly, or even annual goals. If it's not, there is nothing to work towards once the goal is reached. Goals are simply makers along the way of accomplishing our vision. You can have goals without having a big vision but you can't reach a significant vision without having goals.
Doing ministry over the past two decades there have been a number of times that I have felt like stopping. As a youth pastor it was always on Thursday mornings and as a lead pastor it’s Monday mornings. You see, it was always the day after the accomplishment of the last goal that I felt like giving up. If my vision was limited to one service I would have quit a long time ago. My vision is bigger than a single goal.
#3. A Clear Vision Can Be Carried Out
Habakuk 2:2(NKJV) “Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it." Vision is something that should be clear….I mean, quality vision cannot be blurry.
What is your vision? How clear is it? Can you communicate it quickly and clearly? Is it abstract or does it change often?
Making the vision clear will allow you to be better focussed on it. If we don't solidify our vision then the demands of life will drain us of our purpose and we will never reach what we hope for. A clear vision will add drive to your purpose in life. It will also allow you to lead others with and to the vision you have. A significant vision will always be bigger than you, so if others are to rally around your vision, you must “make it plain” enough for them to see and run with it.
As the dawn of a new year is upon us, I would encourage you to set some time aside and write down your vision! I am not talking about goals for the upcoming year, but the vision of your life.
“Vision is a mental picture of what could be, fueled by a passion that it should be.”
1 Thessalonians 5:18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
As I kid, I found Thanksgiving to be boring, yet as an adult it has become my favorite holiday. I love the fact that it is not over commercialized and its meaning secure. We take part of one of the oldest traditions known to man as we gather around a meal and…..talk. Thanksgiving is centered around, well, giving thanks. At least it should be. Back home, my dad always asks us to go around the table and share what we are grateful for. It can be an emotional time. You always want to have the right answer and sometimes that is the only motivation. I’m learning to not just have the right answer but to dig deep and ponder what I am truly grateful for. I love that my dad taught me this important lesson and I am now passing it along to my children.
Gratefulness, it’s the posture of those that consider themselves the recipients of something undeserved. It’s God’s will, not because it does something for Him, but because of what it does in us. It’s reflective in nature and causes us to take inventory of all that is good in our lives. To count our blessings. It’s not for the entitled. Gripping, complaining, criticizing does quit the opposite. It is poison to our hearts because it is rooted in the tension of what we do not have. Greed.
Dr. David Soper, in God Is Inescapable suggests that basically the difference between a prison and a monastery is just the difference between griping and gratitude. Imprisoned criminals spend every waking moment griping; self-imprisoned saints spend every waking moment offering thanks. When a criminal becomes a saint, a prison may become a monastery; when a saint gives up gratitude, a monastery may become a prison.
I encourage you, to take 30 seconds right now and think about something you are grateful for and tell Jesus that……
Now I encourage you to do that everyday and begin to watch the peace of God unfold in your life.
Colossians 3:12-17...As God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
God's gifts and his call are irrevocable.
Am I Called?
The short answer is yes, but I think you should keep reading.
We have heard many times, “This is my calling.” In and out of the church we talk about our calling. Mostly I think we mean that it is something that we instinctively have to do. A voice, an experience, we woke up to a burning in our heart, or possibly it was an opportunity that opened up and we enter into an assignment that makes us feel alive. It’s the ultimate nonnegotiable in our lives, it’s our purpose, our mission, the ambition of our life. We all have a calling.
Scripture gives us some insight to our calling.
We are all called to:
#1. The Great Command
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
Matthew 22:36-39 (NIV)
It’s pretty simple. God’s expectation is for mankind to love and connect with God in every aspect of our lives and to demonstrate love to those around us. We can’t get out of it, it hasn't changed for over 2000 years and it’s not going to change, ever. It’s the great command, God’s great expectation of every human being.
#2. The Great Commission
Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV)
The purpose of The Great Command is to love God and people enough to get the gospel to them and lead them to a life that follows Jesus. I’ve heard it said before, “It’s the great commission, not the great suggestion.” I think we are wise to devote our lives to The Great Commission if we truly follow Christ.
#3. The Great Contribution
The great commandment and the great commission are universal, meaning that they are for all people.
The great contribution is where is gets personal. This is where what we normally feel “called to” comes into action. It’s really the nuts and bolts of the universal mandates (commission/commandment) So how do we discover that?
In June of 1993, I was a new christian and attended a youth camp in Roaring Springs, Texas. Months before that our youth pastor had resigned because of an incurable disease, so every night I would help gather our youth group together to pray for him. That Thursday night as we were praying, I looked around that circle and felt that God was calling me to gather people around His presence. I knew that God was calling me to into pastoral ministry. It was an incredibly powerful moment and most days I still remember that moment. There have been many days over the past 23 years that that moment was the only thing that kept me in pastoral ministry. I understand 2 things about a calling:
#1. You don't pick a calling, a calling chooses you.
#2. You can quit a job but you cannot quit a calling.
There have also been dozens of moments over the years that have confirmed that moment. Not everybody has a moment like mine or a “burning bush” experience, but we are all called. Here are few questions to ask yourself in discovering your calling to the Great contribution.
#1. What bothers you?
What annoys you? What are the things in the world or the church that frustrate you? I have heard it said “your misery, your ministry.” We all know complaining doesn’t work, so how can you do to fix the irritation? Maybe God is causing this divine frustration to so that you can be the solution to the problem. If you see improvements that need to bet made, then jump in and make them! You may discover your calling.
#2. What burns in you?
What moves your heart and keeps you up at night? What are you passionate about? If somebody gave you 10 million dollars tomorrow, what would you do with it? This reveals what you are passionate about. What is the single thing you cannot get away from?
#3. What burdens you?
What breaks your heart? What is the thing that you have been thinking about over the last several months or even years that moves you heart? That is compassion in your heart. This is what moved Jesus to do much of his ministry on the Earth! Don't just feel sorry and pity the need in your heart, act on it, develop a plan, and do something. You may discover your calling.
#4. What blesses you?
What gives you great joy? When you hear about or see something that makes you so happy inside no matter how many times you hear or see it? Don’t let your joy be in the hands of others. Get out there and accomplish the things that bring pleasure to your heart. Doing what ever that may be is also going to bring great pleasure to your Father’s heart!
Friends, I wan't to talk about the opportunity you have. No not your opportunity to vote, albeit that is important. I voted, and I have a lot invested prayerfully, emotionally, and mentally in this election. In fact the next 40 years depend on it. Not just my children but my grand children will be affected by it. It’s that important.
This is more about you than your vote.
I want to talk about the opportunity you have IF things don’t go your way. The way you hoped, prayed, and thought they should go. The way you thought that God would have it. You will have the opportunity to demonstrate Christ or demonstrate your flesh. You have an opportunity to be like Jesus and love those that voted different than you, and you will also have the opportunity to honor a candidate you possibly despise. You will have excuses for your instincts. You can blame the character of the individual you slander or you can reveal your character by slandering them. You can pray for them, their character, their protection, and pray that God would do a work in their heart. It seems to be the way of Christ and the way of the early church when they faced grave injustices and their liberties were taken away.
Before you say “well the disciples didn't face a king like this…”,
I would encourage you to do a little research on the kings of old, especially Nero. He was one of the most vile kings in history. His life was characterized by debauchery, violence (he caused his own mother to be killed), and extravagance. A lot of people thought he was the Anti-Christ. He torched cities & killed Christians.
This is God’s unchanging word to them that were under a vile kings rule:
“Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.” 1 Peter 2:13-14 (NIV)
“Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.” -1 Peter 2:17(NASB)
It wont be easy, but let’s choose the way of the righteous.
Choose love and honor towards the candidate that wins and the candidate that loses. Before you cuss (or almost cuss) at the television, before you rant on Facebook, remember Jesus. His words, His heart for that person and for our nation. Remember that God deeply loves each candidate and each person you disagree with.
I like my candidate. I think they are the better choice, and although I think they have a great shot at winning, it may not happen. I faced this test 4 years ago and there is a real possibility I will face this tension again. Will you join me to control the thing I can control…. My response?
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. -Matthew 5:43-48 (NIV)