visionary leadership

 

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The Visionary Father

(This introduction is pathetic - just all I have right now)

I want to talk to you tonight about leadership. In fact, I want to talk to you about a specific aspect of leadership, a form of leadership that carries great power among people. I want to talk to you about “visionary leadership”.

Now what do you think of when I say “visionary leadership”. Or maybe I should ask who do you think of? What names come to mind when I say “visionary leader”? Winston Churchill? Reagan? How about visionary business leaders like Jack Welch of GE? What about visionary leaders in the coaching world, like John Wooden?

Now why is it, that as much as I’ve talked about this, no one ever says…. “my dad”? Why is it that when we think of visionary leadership, we always seem to think of some political, business, or sports leader? Isn’t family the most important institution in our society? And so why do we rarely think of visionary leadership in the context of the family? 

I don’t know the answer to that question. But over the last year, as I have read about the great visionary leaders, as I have read about the power of visionary leadership and the ability to motivate people… more and more, I’ve desired to be able to apply these principles in my own family. When you take the power of visionary leadership principles and you begin to apply them under the power and direction of the Holy Spirit in one of the most important settings in your life, you are going to experience some incredible results.

Ok, where do we start? How about in scripture? Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish”. Another version says, where there is no vision, the people flounder. Does that describe the state of many families today? I would say so. I would say that the family is in crisis and there has never been a time when visionary leadership is so desperately needed as it is now. Another thing we must understand about leadership, is that it always begins with a vision. Visionary leadership is always the first step of the family leader.

Let me read to you what Dr. Myles Monroe says about this in his book, The Power and Purpose of Men: “Being a true visionary is a lost art in our times. The average male can't say who he is because he has no real vision for his life. He is either floundering without purpose, or he is diligently pursing a false vision based on the values of contemporary society, which are often the opposite of what God values." Would you agree with that? 

Here is what Phillip Lancaster has to say about our current culture: “Men today lack vision. Their time horizons are very short, extending only to the next paycheck, the next vacation, or the next promotion. But godly men must be able to gauge the effects of their present choices on their children and their children's children. They must picture the future. They must see it and allow it to motivate their present actions. Their time horizons must extend even past their grandchildren and into eternity as they learn to weight every action in light of its eternal implications.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m not content to let my family flounder. I don’t want my people to perish. And I don’t think I’m being a good visionary leader. In fact, on the contrary, I must become a visionary leader because I want to send my kids out into a great adventure, passionately pursuing the cause of Christ and the purpose He has laid before them. Guys, leadership begins with vision. 

So, how do we go about becoming visionary leaders in our family? Well, step one is: you’ve got to know where you’re going. First we must understand God's specific call on our family's life. We must discover what that plan is. You’ve got to study the divine roadmap for our family. And how do we do that? We can read the bible, listen to the Holy Spirit, examine the circumstances of our lives, and take counsel from other believers. Also, we must recognize that vision doesn’t always come right away and it may not be something that is immediately applied.

But there is something else that I see at work here. People with vision approach the world differently, they see it differently. People with vision are people who separate themselves from the rat race. They "check out" of the frenzy of life. And they kind of rise up and observe the landscape from a higher vantage point. Visionary leaders are people who look ahead. They think about the future and what it might bring. Spiritually speaking, visionary leaders stop and make eye contact with God and say, “God, where are you leading my family? What is your purpose for us?” As a family man, a visionary leader is observant and understands his family. A visionary father isn’t distracted with his hobbies or personal interests. He’s plugged into his family; he knows their strengths and weaknesses. He takes inventory of his home.

In summary, a visionary leader is observant, plugged in, and he sees the world around him from a unique vantage point. He knows where God is leading his family and he knows how his family can plug into where God is at work. That’s our vantage point: God’s at work all around us. Now given the strengths, talents, and resources of my family, where do we plug into all this?

Ok, let’s take inventory here. We understand where God is leading us as a family, we’ve risen up and looked down the road, and we’ve taken inventory of our family’s strengths and resources. Once you’ve done this, you’re ready to cast the vision for your family.

Now, when we cast a vision, we communicate a thought, idea or mental picture. And the more ways we can communicate this, the better results we will have. We can talk to our family about our vision. That works, but it's kind of academic and not terribly exciting. Better than that is to paint a word picture. Help your family to see this thing in their mind's eye. Now you’re starting to build some power here. And when we create a mental picture, then we’re really starting to communicate well! Think about it, has anyone here ever wanted something so badly that you put a picture up on your desk or at your bathroom sink so you would see it every day? What does that picture do for you? It creates energy. But let me tell you, far and away, the best way to communicate is through experience. When someone sees the vision at work with their own eyes, when they experience it in person, and here's the big-one… when it touches their emotions… you’re creating power and energy and enthusiasm!

Let me give you a great example. Let’s say you talk to your kids about going on a mission trip. That’s good. It helps. Ok, now take it to the next level. You begin to tell them stories about trips you've been on and lives that were changed. Ok, now we're getting somewhere; you can feel the excitement building. Next, you bring home a slide presentation. Wow, they’re really getting it now! They are getting a clear mental picture; they’re really getting a deeper understanding. But, if you want to really set off some fireworks… take them on a mission trip, when they touch, see, smell, and feel the hopelessness of the people. Let them labor on a project. Let them laugh and let them cry. Before you know it, you've got some teenagers who are thinking about becoming missionaries. You see how this is progressive? The more we work at it, the better we communicate, the more are able to help them see, the more they are able to use their senses and emotions..... the more you are becoming a great visionary leader in your family.

I can’t emphasize enough that your family must be able to understand and envision where they are going. Someone once said, “The soul never thinks without a picture.” Or how about this: “Great visionary leaders are able to paint a powerful picture in the heart of people in their lives.” And even more powerful than pictures, your family must have a longing to pursue the vision. A great French adventurer once said, "If you want to build a ship, don't summon people to buy wood, prepare tools, distribute jobs, and organize the work, rather teach people the yearning for the wide, boundless ocean."

Now this is all very exciting, but I haven’t mentioned the one element that is vital for your vision. There is one secret ingredient that must be fundamental to the vision you cast for your family- and that is – your vision must point your family toward a noble cause. 

Guys, we were made to pursue a noble cause. God made us, He created us, He wired us to give of ourselves. That’s our purpose… to give ourselves away! We long to be part of something bigger than ourselves, we long to be part of something that is meaningful and full of purpose. We want our lives to count. We want to live lives of significance. 

And further, we’re not only designed to search for significance but we’re also designed for sacrifice. Ephesians 5:25 tells men: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Let’s not forget that Christ gave up his life for the church. This might surprise you but this concept of sacrifice of men is something that is unique to the Christian faith. The heroism of the fathers is the legacy of the sons. Do you know that after the sinking of the Titanic, the Japanese government sent us a letter commending the men of the Titanic for their sacrificial leadership? They indicated that if it had been a Japanese vessel, the order would have been: men first on the lifeboats, then children, and lastly women. Our love of sacrifice is uniquely Christian and American. Doug Phillips observes, “The man is not only to be the provider but he is also to be the protector. The man is not only to be defender of the home but he must sacrificially lay down his life, not only in military service, not only when the nation’s gates are challenged, but on a day to day basis, sacrificing for his family. It is a western tradition that was built on a biblical tradition that was modeled by the greatest man, the God man, Jesus Christ who laid down his life for others; who sacrificed for others. This principle has always been recognized as essential in every Christian civilization and it is what distinguishes us from every other civilization.” Sacrifice is the greatest picture our kids can see because, “the heroism of the fathers is the legacy of the sons.” History is full of stories of people who sacrificed and gave their lives for a cause that was noble and holy in their eyes. 

And that’s why I talk about this thing I call the noble cause. If you will seek God’s direction and get plugged into His purpose for your life and begin living a sold out, passionate, and sacrificial life, you will be blessed beyond your wildest imagination. You will live a life filled with great anticipation. You will be filled to overflowing with joy. You will be filled with a sense of completeness – that you have fulfilled your calling and purpose in life. You will be living the great adventure.

Let’s stop and review here for a minute. Now, what happens when your family plugs into God’s plan? What happens when you cast that vision, when you help your family understand, see, feel, and experience that vision that God has called you to? What happens when you point your family toward a noble cause, toward a life of sacrifice, courage, faith, strength? What happens then?

BOOM! 

Spontaneous combustion. 

Energy!

When you become the visionary leader of your family and when you point them toward their own noble cause, you create energy. It one of the laws of visionary leadership because it’s how God wired us as humans. When we see the vision, it not only creates energy, it creates anticipation, excitement, motivation, and enthusiasm.

You know, this is one of the most exciting aspects of leadership. You’ve done your homework, you’ve rallied the troops, and you’re marching out to pursue your cause. You know what it’s like. There’s a sense of electricity in air. Everywhere you look there is excitement, anticipation, and energy.

But what often happens? Excitement fades. Enthusiasm dwindles. You know, "the flash in the pan."

Jesus understood this. After all, isn’t He the greatest visionary leader of all time? He understood our human nature. I’ve saved Jesus’ example for last, because what He did was so rare. Jesus had a quality about Him that is unparalleled among visionary leaders.

Jesus understood visionary leadership. He knew God’s plan for the people in His life. Jesus was able to rise up, to look ahead. Jesus was able to cast a vision like no other. He helped His disciples see, hear, feel, and even experience the vision that was laid before them. Jesus pointed them toward a noble cause; the cause they were made for. As you read the scriptures, you see the energy rising among His disciples. And with that excitement level hitting a crescendo, Jesus knew just what every visionary leader should do next: you’ve got to give yourself away.

Jesus didn’t say, “Guys, I’ve cast the vision, you’re all excited, now…… go get’em!” No. That wasn’t how He operated. Instead, Jesus said to His disciples, “Guys, I’ve pointed you to the Father’s will. I’ve cast the vision. You’ve been able to experience this vision for yourself. Now guys, stand back and watch me as I give myself away.”

WOW!

What happened next?

What happens after Jesus casts the vision and then courageously throws himself, headlong into the passion and sacrifice of that noble cause; of that vision he cast?

Well, for starters we changed the calendar, right?

How many of His followers threw themselves at this vision and ended up joyously being martyred? Do you know that today, 2000 years later, people are still giving their lives, as martyrs, for the joy of their Savior?

There is a strange beauty that surrounds sacrifice. Something deep down in our soul tells us that it is right and it is good. There is something rich and compelling about the idea of giving ourselves away. It goes against everything that the world and our flesh tells us. But there is a beauty in sacrifice.

And there is power in this position of fatherhood. Unless we spoil the design, God programmed every son and every daughter looks up to their father with this sense of awe. It's frightening to me. When we're playing the role that God designed for us, our wives and our children develop this longing to respect and honor and love their father. And when that father says to his family, "look kids, here is how we are to live," and then he says, "Now watch daddy as he gives himself away," there is a power that reaches down into the soul of every child that is beyond our understanding. But it is a power that strengthens their courage and drives them to continue that legacy, to give of themselves, to live sacrificially for Christ.

Jesus showed us the way. He gave Himself up as the ultimate sacrifice. And he calls us to do the same. Read it for yourself. Look it up. Ephesians chapter five.

Now listen to me guys, if I drew a line in the sand tonight, and called every one of you to give up your life for your family… not a man in this room wouldn’t cross that line. You know what, guys, not a man in this room would hesitate to give up his life for his family. You know what the real challenge is…. Will you live for them? Will you live for them?

There’s one way you can begin. Tuesday mornings for six weeks, beginning on… We’re going to meet for six mornings to talk about how to be a hero to your son. How to become a strategic father, a visionary father. How to lead your son into manhood.

The heroism of the father is the legacy of the son. I know you’ll die for your son. Now will you live for him?

 

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