Vision and Love
The act of following vision is not unlike the act of falling in love. As leaders, we try so hard to manufacture motivation for those we are called to lead. However, in reality, our main job is to simply create the environment and conditions that draw followers to the vision that God has given us.
Recently, I’ve been called to lead a new team. Feeling, as one previous leader used to say to me, that bite of responsibility, I began pouring myself into leadership development books, teachings and articles. I wanted desperately to bring my best self to this new team. I began feverishly drafting my vision for where we would go together. I actively looked for ways to serve and invite team members into the bigger vision I felt God was calling us to.
And then, I waited. Team member after team member said no. Granted, they all did so with appropriate professionalism and admittedly left to pursue great opportunities at other organizations, yet the sting of that rejection was still there. Sure, I knew in my heart this was not about me; that this was about the story God was writing for each of their professional lives, but I’d be lying if I said it was not a painful season.
As you might expect, this led me to reflect carefully on whether there was anything in my leadership that needed to change. What was God teaching me in this? And here it is, in all of its raw newness.
Vision is a Two-Way Deal
Vision, like love, is a two-way deal. As leaders, we get to dream big and call people to do things beyond what they might have imagined they were capable of doing on their own. But they still get to choose.
Vision, like love, is a two-way deal.
Thankfully, our organizations are not full of drones, but living beings created in the image of God with their own callings, gifts and passions. And sometimes, those callings, gifts and passions just are not in alignment with the vision you’ve laid out for your team. And that is okay.
Just as someone who is dating might put themselves out there, vision requires leaders to display vulnerability and humility, tenderness and care for the team members you are leading. And there is no guarantee that at the end of the day, all of the people will follow.
Three Steps for Visionary Leaders
So what do we, as leaders, do with this truth?
Pray for godly wisdom as you serve the team you are leading. Pray for God to bring the right people to the team for the tasks he has given you to do. Pray for clarity for those on your team, to know that they are called to be a part of the vision you are casting or to know that God has something else in store for them on a different team.
Remember how one serves someone they are pursuing in a dating relationship? There is no sacrifice that doesn’t seem worth it in that season. There is no inconvenience too great to prove your devotion to that person. Take this same spirit with you as you lead. Let there be no question at the end of each day about your commitment to serving your team well.
Leadership brings many challenges. Visionary leadership can feel lonely at times. Lean into those headwinds and persevere. Your example will not go unnoticed.
The greatest commandment in Scripture is to love God and love people.
The greatest commandment in Scripture is to love God and love people. Christ-following leaders are called to be life-giving, selfless, serving, loving conduits to the people that God has entrusted to their influence. One of the most loving things a leader can do is to consistently and clearly cast vision, call people into that vision and hold them accountable after they say yes to their role.
Mollie Yoder is the Associate Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Trevecca Nazarene University. She is also a wife, mom of two, and reformed rush-a-holic but most importantly, she is head-over-heels in love with Jesus. Mollie currently serves on the iWork4Him Board of Directors and on the Christian Leadership Alliance Advisory Council.