Posted by: Jon Coker (San Antonio 2018) | February 2, 2021
“Where there is no vision, the people perish.” —Proverbs 29:18 (KJV)
They say hindsight is 2020, which is ironic because that entire year was labeled as “the days of uncertainty.” Those 12 months of what felt like a scene from a Bruce Willis movie taught us that vision is the most valuable asset for ministry leaders. The power of God-given vision can nurse a wounded soul back to faith and restore hope to the most discouraged in our communities. A leader with a clear vision can rally masses of young people together without pizza parties and giveaways. People who can see feel compensated by the cause.
It was vision that allowed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to see how the diversity and freedom of 2021 could override the bondage of segregation in 1963. He dreamed out loud and united a broken people around God’s redemptive purpose for unity. King proved that God-inspired vision wouldn’t die with the visionary, but it would echo on as a light for the generations to come.
Our ministry vision must see higher than Capitol Hill, further than current events, and deeper than the deceptions of breaking news and trending conspiracy theories. We have to see the storms to lead our young people through them.
Jesus instructed his disciples to pray, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10 KJV). In other words, heaven holds the blueprint of God’s will, and the Holy Spirit is the architect searching the earth for ministry leaders He can contract to build what He’s designed.
We have witnessed too many in leadership attempting to build towers to heaven with earthly blueprints. There will always be times of uncertainty when blind leaders babble. Every leader will be confronted with a defining choice: Will you build your empire or God’s kingdom?
Proverbs 29:18 reminds us that where there is no vision, people perish. Another translation says that “people cast off restraint” (NIV). When leaders reflect, we should realize that the parts of our lives lacking discipline are often the parts that also lack vision. We all need revelation from God’s Word to take the place of the destructive paradigms we’ve adopted through the course of life. Without biblical truths, we lean on the hopelessness of our own limited understanding and lead our youth into pits and traps. A vision that is not inspired by God is like a compass that is not calibrated to the true north. You can follow it faithfully for miles, but you’ll always be moving in the wrong direction. Just because the arrow of culture is pointing toward an “N” doesn’t mean we’re headed north as a people.
Too many communities have suffered from the lethal arrogance of blind leaders who have lost their grasp of north.
The fifth chapter of Matthew opens with a mixed multitude following the hype about Jesus. The believers, the skeptics, the disciples, the sick, the healed, the desperate, the prideful, and the curious thronged around the mountain where the Messiah would vision cast for the next three chapters of the book.
“And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. Then He opened His mouth and taught them” (Matt. 5:1-2 NKJV).
Before considering any of the beautiful truths He taught, we should first note that He ascended. Jesus never attempted to tackle social issues from eye level. His perspective was always elevated, and His response always represented the heart of the Father. Urban leaders can live and serve in the inner city, but they should always have a clear vision of the “next” from the “now.”
To see people the way God sees them, leaders must be climbers. If we climb, we can see beyond students’ unproductive behavior and speak into the personal battles they’re fighting at home. We can value people above profit and performance in our ministries. We can stand for justice and equality with balanced scales. If we climb, we can have confidence during times of uncertainty.