Vision is crucial in life, in ministry and in work, right?
But, what is vision? Where does it come from? And how do high-performing ministries create, express, and pursue their vision?
These big, important, persistent questions deserve answers.
Here’s my take. I’ve been blessed to walk alongside countless organizations as they chart their own path forward and make a difference in the world. Indeed, they’re making an eternal difference. Inevitably that journey raises questions about the organization’s grand purpose.
- Why do we exist?
- What do we intend to accomplish?
- What will be the evidence of our ultimate success?
In order to address these questions begin with an idealized view of the future and identify how that future perspective differs from today’s reality.
Let’s establish a common reference point. Here’s the definition I’ll use:
Vision Statement – (Desired End-State) A one-sentence statement describing the clear and inspirational long-term desired change resulting from an organization or program’s work.
Simply put, vision is our idealized view of the future.
Simply put, vision is our idealized view of the future. Ok, now that we understand our terms where does vision come from? Who owns it? How is it created? How do we stay true to it? Can it change?
Let’s begin at the beginning . . .
Whose vision are we talking about?
Responsibility for an organization’s vision lies solely on the board of trustees. The duty to cast a vision of the idealized future cannot be delegated to the staff. It is the property of the governing body.
However, the board doesn’t create vision in a vacuum. Numerous voices outside the boardroom must be heard before the vision statement is adopted. Whose voice would you want to include?
Let this checklist stimulate your thinking:
- Christian leaders
- The CEO and executive team
- Those we serve
- Frontline staff
Now proceed judiciously so these various people can provide input without derailing the board’s responsibility.
Begin with a process
Use these four steps to guide your vision casting process:
- Establish the decision framework. Before articulating your idealized view of the future, decide how you are going to decide. Create a written plan revealing: Who will make the decision? How will the decision be made? When will the decision be finalized? How will the results be communicated? How will the organization remain faithful to the vision?
- Inform internal and external stakeholders about the decision process.
- Follow the process. Hold yourself accountable to do what you said you would do.
- Reflect on the process and the outcomes. Did you accomplish what you intended to do? How would you approach the task differently next time?
Proceed with discernment
Before the formal vision session, seek broad input. Encourage board members to prepare individually by listening to the above-named sources. Seek the wisdom and experience of others. Read the Bible. Think strategically about the future and your desired impact.
In I Kings 3:9 Solomon made this request of God, “So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?” Can you make this prayer your own?
Next, take the work into the boardroom. Ask the Holy Spirit for divine guidance. Trust God to direct your steps and protect against going astray.
Conclude the process by calling for unity around the board’s sense of direction.
Release the CEO to carry it out
Now it’s the CEO’s job to interpret the vision to the organization, bringing it into clear focus. Accordingly, the staff executes the programs, making the vision become reality.
With a clear vision in place, have some fun! Publicly announce the bold vision for the future. Celebrate past victories that have brought us here. Give credit to leaders, donors, and employees whose sacrifice laid the foundation upon which the ministry will build its future.
Enjoy this next phase of the journey!
Kent Stroman’s purpose in life is to equip, inspire and encourage. He is a published author, popular presenter, effective consultant and insightful thought leader. Kent is passionate about excellence in fundraising and board governance and equips leaders internationally through keynotes, retreats, consulting, writing, and his signature Asking Academy™.