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March 9, 1994

Visionary Leadership

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Where there is no vision, the people perish. PROVERBS 29:18 (KJV)
Vision is the ability to see something bigger than the current reality. It’s being able to peer around the corner, onto the next page or chapter, or down the road a few miles and see what could be, rather than what is.
Before we delve into a discussion about vision, a disclaimer is in order. When properly translated, Proverbs 29:18 actually does not refer to “one’s ability to formulate goals and work toward them, nor does it mean eyesight or the ability to understand.”17 Rather, “it is a synonym for what a prophet does,”18 which makes the New International Version’s rendition—”Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint”—much more accurate than the wording in the King James Version.
That said, there’s no disputing the fact that vision—the ability to see that today’s reality is not the end of the story—is a very biblical component of life. It drove the Old Testament patriarchs and prophets as well as the New Testament disciples.
It was vision that helped the people of Israel move from Egypt to the Promised Land. It was vision that helped David slay Goliath. It was vision that helped the prophets proclaim their message of hope to the very end. It was vision that propelled the disciples to leave their nets and tax bags to follow Jesus. It was vision that drove the early church planters to spread the gospel across the globe.
From a business standpoint, vision is what sends an organization toward the future in an integrated way. Vision is a key part of leadership because people often need to see a compelling picture of what they’re working toward before they can do their best work. If the leader of an organization doesn’t supply a vision, the people will often come up with their own. This can result in competing visions, which leads to competing agendas. And when there are competing agendas, people will be at odds with each other about where they’re going. Any way you look at it, it’s not a pretty picture.
Are you in a position that requires you to provide visionary leadership? Are you taking that responsibility seriously, or are you waiting for someone else to do it? If the latter scenario is true, perhaps you need to reread Proverbs 29:18. You don’t really want your people to “perish,” do you?

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