Good Vision Work Requires Time and Patience

Every organization and every church benefits from having a clear vision describing their purpose and how they will focus their efforts. A vision helps determine if certain programs in the church will be helpful or not. If something does not help move the vision forward, then it is wasted effort or worse – detrimental to your organization or church. Develop a clear vision to give direction to all you do.

Realistically, the vision creating process takes time. Those involved need to be able to mull over different ideas in order to come up with the best ones. Most people in volunteer board/committee roles do not have the same time to commit to this process as those leading it, so we have to go slower than we think we should. It is no use pushing ahead if that means we lose people along the way. Consider those on your team and provide appropriate time and space they need to work alongside you as you lead the process.

Time and patience also are needed as we pray about the vision. Our church is currently doing 40 Days of Prayer and Fasting, with part of that time specifically focused on asking God for vision and direction for the church. This is best done over time too. Don’t think one short prayer will be enough. The more time we spend in conversation with God, the more likely we will hear clearly from Him. As we patiently take our time, we will be better off in the end.

As I work with my church to create our vision, we started with identifying three core values. This took time, too. We gathered for one six-hour session with this outcome. While there was a lot of conversation around the whole process that will continue to contribute to the vision, our end result was three core values. Since then, we had a second five-hour session where we now came up with a possible two-word mission statement. Again, there was a lot of conversation that will continue to speak into the ongoing vision discussion, but didn’t result in a finished vision.

All of that to say, it takes time, patience, and a lot of conversation to come up with a meaningful vision to give direction to the leadership team and the church as a whole.

Our next step is to share with the congregation what we have come up with so far, inviting them to speak into the process and tell us how what we have so far connects or doesn’t connect with them.

Some leaders say that good vision creating can take months if not years. My contract with them will be ending in a few months, so we are trying to get to a point where they can easily continue to build on the work being done now with the next pastor. So we are working on this with purpose, but patience. We want to keep the vision work moving along, but not rush it and miss out on important conversations along the way. Hopefully we will determine a vision with enough clarity to guide us in creating a practical strategy for how to work toward accomplishing this vision.

Take time for the important work of vision defining so that everyone knows exactly what you are committed to doing and how you will do it. Ask God to walk with you in the whole process so your end product is a vision that reveals God’s heart and resonates with the church. And then, as you begin to work out the vision, you will all be on the same page and moving ahead together.

Keep looking up,

Andy Wiebe

The Space In Between

We spend a lot of time waiting. We wait at traffic lights. We wait at the doctor’s office. There is waiting from when you first ooh and aah over the ultrasound pictures until the baby arrives. I love ordering books on line, but then have to wait two weeks or more to receive them.

Some waiting is so accepted by us that we pretty much ignore it. Waiting at a traffic light raises my stress way more than waiting for a book to arrive. Some waiting consumes our every thought; think of a soon-to-be mom who spends the nine months preparing for the new arrival.

Sometimes we wait for God to work. A few years ago I went through a time of waiting on God. Both my wife and I were convinced that God had told us to wait. I was in between ministry positions and had no way of rushing the process of what was next for us. I sent many resumes to a number of different ministry opportunities. No ministry positions came my way, but then again, God had said wait.

King Saul Didn’t Wait

That “time in between” one thing or another, that time of waiting on God is important. We can’t rush when God wants us to wait. I am reminded of King Saul in the Bible. In 1 Samuel 13: 8-9 we read:

            Saul waited there seven days for Samuel, as Samuel had instructed him earlier, but Samuel still didn’t come. Saul realized that his troops were rapidly slipping away. So he demanded, “Bring me the burnt offering and the peace offerings!” And Saul sacrificed the burnt offering himself.

Samuel was the priest. Saul was the king. The king was not to offer sacrifices, but he felt he had waited long enough, and he was worried because all of his men were leaving. He had to do something, didn’t he?

Then Samuel arrives just as King Saul is finishing the sacrifice. He chastises the king, “what have you done?”

And this is what happens to Saul as a result of not waiting: 13 “How foolish!” Samuel exclaimed. “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you. Had you kept it, the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. 14 But now your kingdom must end, for the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart. The Lord has already appointed him to be the leader of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.”

Saul was tired of waiting. The in between time was making him nervous. He decided to act, and God punished him for it.

The Disciples Waited

There are times that God wants us to wait, so wait we should.

In Acts 1: 4-5 we read what Jesus told the disciples just before he left this earth after his resurrection: “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before. John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

So, the disciples waited. For ten days. Waiting, and praying. And then something incredible happened as the promised Holy Spirit showed up. Acts 2 describes tongues of fire and a roaring sound like a mighty wind, as well as those present speaking in languages they had not known before.

There was great benefit in waiting as they received the Holy Spirit that Jesus promised would be his replacement for them.

Faithful Waiting

There are other examples in scripture, and in our own lives, where we have been in the in between time. Sometimes we know there is something else, something better, coming. Other times we are just hoping for something better. In the meantime, we wait. In the waiting, our number one purpose is to remain faithful to God.

Maybe you are waiting for a new job or a new ministry position. You are convinced that you need to move on from where you are. Maybe you have even resigned. As you look for the next position, you are getting impatient. It seems like God is too slow. I want to encourage you to be patient, and wait faithfully for God to work.

Maybe you are waiting for something you think you deserve and it is just not happening. Maybe you are wishing you were married. You long for someone to live the rest of your life with. Remain faithful to God in the waiting. Do not look for a shortcut that will ruin your future. Continue to honor him and trust him to provide for you.

Maybe you are a parent who is longing for the return of a prodigal. You have a child who decided they wanted to live their own life, and to deliberately live it opposite to what you taught him or her. And now you wait, and pray, and try to trust God to bring that wayward child back.

Continue to faithfully wait. Trust God. Pray for your child regularly. If you have an opportunity to connect with a visit or even an email or card, do what you can, and trust God to continue to work as you love this child and long for them to return to you and to God.

Waiting is often really hard. Like Saul, we look for shortcuts. But remember how drastically that one mistake affected Saul and his family forever. God had wanted to make a kingly line through him, now that was done and God moved on to another, to David.

Be faithful to God in the waiting. Trust that he truly has the best in mind for you. That waiting time God had us go through a few years ago were not the easiest. We relied on God in a way we hadn’t for quite a while. He provided encouragement along the way. And then he began showing us that he was shifting us into a new type of ministry. The waiting was necessary to readjust my heart, to show me that I needed to go in a different direction than I had ever considered. He has blessed in numerous ways as we have come out of these years of waiting.

Remain faithful during the in between time.

Keep looking up

Andy