There's a lot about this book that I love. I'm realizing that one of the things that I love about it is that it is written, ostensibly, by a non-Christian. Before you cry foul and claim that the Program Director has lost his mind, hear me out.
We recognize and proclaim that it's only by God's unending Grace and His Merciful guidance that we are able to do what we do. We know that His example of servant leadership, set by His Son, is the best (and only!) example we can follow…
BUT, there are times when seeing things from a non-Christian perspective allows us to gain some crucial insight we might miss from inside the bubble of Christian culture. I think that this chapter is one of those times.
"A good team is far more than a group of people committed to a common goal." (108)
A group of people can be committed to a common goal and get there without really having a vision. For example, recently, my friends and I had the common goal of going to a Twins game. We didn't have a vision for the evening, or really even a plan for how it would all work out, but we made it to the game on time and had a great evening. In other words, we achieved our goal. BUT, other than the few hours of fun and some memories that will last for a while, there was little else that came out of our evening.
This summer, we can reach the common goal of serving our partners while developing character in the team members. I'm confident that all of our teams this summer will reach that goal. The question is, will it matter?
Vision asks the question: "how will the world look differently for us having accomplished our ministry?" In other words, if we are 100% successful in achieving our vision for this summer, what will it look like?
Read the following quote from CTI's Summer Program Vision:
"Ideally, each young person will leave the summer program with a more missional mindset, and will return home to impact their churches and communities through their deepening character and continuing desire to embrace ministry and discipleship as lifelong commitments."
Reflection Question #1: How will you emphasize the idea of being more than just a group of people committed to a common goal? How will you help make CTI's vision for our summer program happen?
One of the key assets I look for in leaders is their ability to communicate clearly.
Graham points out that a crucial part of visionary leadership is not just coming up with a clear vision, but also communicating it concisely.
Think back to fulltime training last August. You may not realize this, but Chris and I (as well as the other trainers) were constantly stating and restating the vision of the program for you. We'd say it in different ways and through different voices, but the vision always remained the same.
We obviously have a vision for the entire summer program, but you'll need to work to come up with your vision for the people you're impacting this summer. Once you have the vision, the challenge then becomes communicating it ways that are understandable, memorable, and implementable.
Here in the office, we've boiled our vision down to two main statements:
"Supporting global mission and ministry through the impact of music"
"Developing Christian leadership and character in young musicians"
They hang on our office walls. They reside at the bottom of our letterhead. They permeate all that we do.
Reflection Question #2: What communication barriers/struggles will you need to overcome as a leader? How will you communicate your vision to those you lead?
In my mind, the world's expert on visionary leadership is Andy Stanley. I'd like to share a few thoughts from his book, Visioneering, as a way to round out this week's post.
Everybody ends up somewhere in life. You can get there on purpose.
This statement is another way of saying what Graham said in the quote I highlighted above. This summer, go forward with a purpose.
Visioneering requires patience, investigation, and planning. Visioneering requires faith in God's ability to work behind the scenes. Confidence that he will orchestrate what he has originated.
Visionary leadership doesn't happen by accident. Stanley highlights here the need for both planning (we have to do our part) and faith (we have to trust that God's going to do His part).
Things won't always work out the way you expect them to. Be careful not to confuse your plans with God's vision. Remember, plans are often revised. Don't be afraid to alter your strategy as circumstances around you change.
In other words, the vision never changes… but, the way you accomplish it might change. Things will happen (equipment failures, travel issues, team member problems) and you will have to react, but always ask yourself the question: is this fulfilling our vision?
At the end of Chapter 11 in Outdoor Leadership, Graham points out that anyone can develop and communicate a vision. He mentions that some people may struggle, and he advocates for practicing on yourself before you implement this strategy with a group.
Reflection #3: Come up with a small/simple vision for yourself as a way of practicing. Share with us both your vision and how you intend to achieve it. Get used to asking yourself the question: is this vision-fulfilling behavior?