Why Vision Slips (and How to Make It Stick)

Why Vision Slips (and How to Make it Stick)

Posted on Posted in Strategy

Vision is important for your ministry.

George Barna says, “Ministry without vision is like a car without gasoline: capable of forward movement, but lacking the necessary fuel” (Turning Vision into Action, 10).

Your ministry is capable of moving forward, but if your people – your volunteers, your students – don’t understand and embrace the vision then you won’t go anywhere.

The problem with vision is that it leaks. It slips. You cast your vision; people buy into it. But then they forget about it. They get on with their other responsibilities with their own jobs and kids.

Rick Warren calls this the “Nehemiah Principle.” He says, “Vision and purpose have to be restated every twenty-six days to keep the church moving in the right direction” (The Purpose Driven Church, 111-112).

Why does vision slip?

In his book, Visioneering, Andy Stanley says, “The daily grind of life is hard on visions. Life is now. Bills are now. Crisis is now. Vision is later…Distractions can slowly kill a vision” (Visioneering, 202).

Distractions come in 3 forms:

1. Opportunities
All sorts of things will come up that can take your attention away from what God has called you to do. Entertainment, vacation, relational, and business opportunities are a few that come to mind. Most of the opportunities that come your way won’t necessarily be bad opportunities. They’ll be good. You could easily justify them if you wanted to. But those are the things that will keep you from the one thing God has called you to really do.

“To accomplish the important things you must learn to say no to some good things” (Visioneering, 205).

2. Criticism
When you are focused on one vision, when you operate with a singular devotion, you will most likely become a target of criticism. People won’t be accustomed to that kind of focus and intensity. They won’t know how to respond. They’ll try to cover their own lack of care and concern by criticizing your abundance of care and concern.

“There are always going to be accusations when you are focused on accomplishing a vision. Men and women with a vision stand out. That makes people uncomfortable. The current society always moves in the direction of conformity” (Visioneering, 210).

3. Fear
Vision sees a future that isn’t a reality yet. It’s unknown. That can create a real sense of fear. It’s easy to imagine the bad that might happen rather than the good that God desires.

“Don’t allow the fear of the unknown to cause you to miss out on what God wants to do through you…Don’t allow fear to distract you from what you believe could and should be. Don’t allow what could take place to cause you to back down from pursuing what ought to take place” (Visioneering, 214).

With these potential distractions, making vision stick can be difficult. But it is possible.

In his little book, Making Vision Stick, Andy Stanley offers 5 things you can do to significantly increase the adhesiveness of your vision. They are:

1. State the vision simply.
“If your vision is going to stick in people’s minds, it must be memorable” (p. 19).

2. Cast the vision convincingly.
“Once you have your vision in a form that makes it easy to communicate, you must communicate it in a way that moves people to action” (p. 24).

3. Repeat the vision regularly.
“We all need to be reminded why we are doing what we are doing. We need to be reminded what’s at stake. We need to be reminded of the vision. And we need it more often than most leaders realize” (p. 38).

4. Celebrate the vision systematically.
“To make the vision stick, a leader needs to pause long enough to celebrate the wins along the way. Celebrating the wins does more to clarify the vision than anything else” (p. 39).

5. Embrace the vision personally.
“Living out the vision establishes credibility and makes you a leader worth following. When people are convinced that the vision has stuck with you, it is easier for them to make the effort to stick with the vision” (47).

Your Move

Both you and your team need a significant vision to keep going for the long haul. If you’re short-sighted, then you’ll throw in the towel.

It’s easy to become distracted by the tyranny of the urgent. Opportunities, criticism, and fear get in the way and cloud our judgment.

Vision must be stated simply, cast convincingly, repeated regularly, celebrated systematically, and embraced personally to become a reality.

It’s not complicated, but it is hard. Stay focused. Work hard. And your ministry will eventually see the results that come from dreaming big.

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Trevor Hamaker (DMin, McAfee School of Theology) is an author, adjunct professor, and youth ministry coach. He helps youth pastors see their potential, develop their skills, and reach their goals.

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