One of my mentors once said to me, “If God is calling you to a place, He’ll give you a vision for that ministry.” He didn’t mean a literal vision, but he did mean something just as attention-getting: a clear sense of what God wants to accomplish in that new ministry. We may not grab that vision immediately, but we’ll gain that sense of direction as we follow His lead and get our feet on the ground in a new place.
Then, things happen that sometimes block our vision. Here are a few of those things:
- Problem people – Few things turn our attention away from a positive future like problem people in the present. Jesus had them, too – so we should not be surprised – but they can sure be distracting.
- Greener grass – Somebody else is accomplishing a vision much more rapidly than we are, and everybody’s talking about it. Their grass is green, but our soil is rocky. And, then the Internet lets us travel to that greener grass in our minds any time we want to . . . .
- Community disconnect – Just because we feel called to a place doesn’t mean we easily adjust to it. Sometimes, the culture shock of moving to another state (or even to another place within the same state) can be as heavy as moving overseas. It’s hard to stay focused when you feel like you don’t fit in.
- Shepherding responsibilities – The sheep take time. They want, and have a right to expect, our care and concern. When pastoral care takes all of our time, though, just getting through the day is wearying. The future will have to wait.
- Home struggles – In too many homes of church leaders, the pain behind closed doors is deep but hidden. In some cases, the church workplace becomes an escape from the home – but vision doesn’t matter when your family is in anguish.
- Warped memories – It’s interesting to me that we often remember yesterday’s ministries as much greater than they seemed when we were in them. Somehow we recall with fondness what was frustrating then – and we begin to long for the “good ole days of the other place.” Today’s vision can’t last with our eyes in a backwards direction.
- Overwhelming fatigue – Ministry can be tiring, especially if we don’t take care of ourselves, don’t rest well, don’t exercise, etc. Weariness robs us of our joy and misdirects our focus. It’s difficult to look forward when we’re too tired to lift our head.
- Personal sin – Sometimes the sin is a sin of omission: we spend no time with God, who is the giver of vision. At other times, our sin is commission: our sin (often private) hinders everything we do as a leader. Why should God give vision to someone who’s already not following His clear will?
- Forgetfulness – In the midst of all these other issues – and more not listed here – we forget that God called us to a ministry in the first place. The excitement of the first days has diminished, and today seems drudgery. We need God to (1) remind us of His calling and (2) renew our sense of vision.
How might I pray for you today as you think about your vision?