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The power of vision

By Steve R. Mills

What motivates people?

To leaders this is a big question. Psychological, sociological, and even spiritual factors contribute to motivation. Both intrinsic and extrinsic elements are involved. Tom Landry, one of football's outstanding coaches, said, "Leadership is the ability to get people to do what they don't want to do so they can become what they want to become."

The power of vision motivates! It motivates a mountain climber to brave cruel winds and dangerous trails to reach the summit. The power of vision motivated the Wright brothers to overcome disappointment and failure and build a flying machine. It motivated a small, unrefined, motley group of 12 men to change the world. They caught the vision of their leader, Jesus, and set the whole course of history.

Your vision as a leader has significant impact on the growth and effectiveness of your church and Sunday school. A leader's vision is powerful, and a lack of vision is perilous. Proverbs 29:18 says, "Where there is no vision, the people perish."

How Does Vision Influence the Leader?

Vision first influences the leader personally by giving him direction. He listens to the Holy Spirit, evaluates the situation, and knows what is needed or desired.

The pastor with a clear sense of direction who is able to articulate it will find his congregation's motivation high. The Sunday school superintendent who has received direction from the Lord and has charted a course will inspire the entire Sunday school.

Unless you know where you are going, how you are going to get there, and what you want to accomplish, life will become dull and boring. Dennis Waitly, in Seeds of Greatness, says, "The reason so many individuals fail to achieve their goals in life is that they never really set them in the first place." Do you have personal goals for your life? If a leader's personal life is unorganized arid lacks vision, his public ministry will be unorganized and ineffective.

Do you have a vision and goals for your Sunday school? Set goals for starting new classes, starting or increasing staff training, or increasing enrollment and attendance. Ask yourself, "If our Sunday school could be anything in the world, what would it be like?" Look at possibilities rather than limitations. God has a plan for your church and Sunday school, and He is willing to reveal it to the leader who will seek Him.

The leaders vision gives him a sense of urgency and rightness. This conviction that his vision is right and urgent dominates his thoughts, penetrates his emotions, and dictates his actions. The difference between a leader and a daydreamer is that the leader activates his dreams, while the daydreamer just thinks about them.

A vision consumes a leader with a sense of responsibility. He assumes responsibility for the accomplishment of his vision. Although others may catch his vision, no one will have a more intense passion than he does. This can be frustrating for the leader, but the key is to work with people, yet assume the responsibility for accomplishment.

How Does the Leader Share His Vision?

First, start with a clearly defined, communicable goal. For example, this year we may want to increase enrollment by 35 percent, or this quarter we want to use a Sunday school campaign to increase involvement of worship attenders by 15 percent.

Second, brainstorm for ways to accomplish the goal. Involve others in a planning meeting. Begin to dream with the group. Fantastic ideas can come out of these interactive times.

Three, establish your strategy. For a goal to be accomplished, specific steps must be taken. Determine what must be done and in what order the steps should be completed.

Fourth, set dates. Set your time frame and the dates for each step to be finished.

Fifth, assign personnel. If your goal is to increase enrollment by 35 percent, assist each teacher to set an enrollment goal for his class. If your goal is to increase involvement of worship attenders, assign names of people to be contacted to individual classes. You might start a contest and assign a contest chairperson. Utilize the resources and abilities of people you work with to accomplish what God wants you to.

Sixth, work your plan. Once you have set your goal, determined your strategy, and delegated responsibility, get to work. Don't allow the goal to die on the committee planning table.

Seventh, evaluate the results. Look at both positives and negatives. Be objective about the success of the task. What needs to be changed, and what worked very well?

This is a great time to pray and plan for your Sunday school. Seek the Lord for His vision, then pass it on to those you serve. This will help your Sunday school be effective and grow. Remember, a powerful vision has the power to motivate!

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