The Jeremiah Institute desires to be on the cutting edge of providing vital and timely material on leadership. This section will contain cutting edge articles, research and encouragement to keep the fires of your leadership burning brightly. Make this a regular stop of your refueling agenda.
WHERE HAVE ALL THE VISIONARIES GONE?
Thousands of years ago the wise man Solomon spoke an eternal principle: “Where there is no vision, the people perish…” (Proverbs 29:18). While Solomon had in mind words from God to His spokesman known as prophets, it calls our attention to the broader subject of vision for God’s work in the church. Vision among church leaders. In their book, Death of the Church, Mike Regele and Mark Schultz wrote these sobering words: “The most important problem in the church today is a fundamental lack of clear, heart-grabbing vision. The church in America has no vision. It has programs and institutions and property and ministers and politically correct hymnals, but no vision” (p. 229, Zondervan, 1995). While these authors may be painting with broad denominational brush strokes, they are touching on a point that the twenty-first century Restoration Movement cannot ignore.
Vision has become a hype word in the last twenty or so years. Corporate American has spent thousands of man-hours and millions of dollars honing out vision statements. Other institutions such as sports teams, clubs and even churches have gotten on the bandwagon. Many of these vision statements hang in prominent places to be read by employees and customers, but little or nothing is accomplished by them. They are just words; another fad sold in the marketplace of success principles.
Jesus was no doubt thinking about vision when he uttered these words about the Pharisees: “Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch” (Matthew 15:14). These leaders couldn’t see the real mission of the Law; they failed to see the plight of humanity; they were blind to their own corruption; they were leading people away from God instead of to Him (cf. Matthew 23:1-12).
Webster defines vision as: “The act or power of anticipating that which will or may come to be…a vivid, imaginative conception or anticipation of something in the future.” There was a time when most church leaders were describes by these words. They looked out on the harvest fields of lost humanity and sent froth missionaries (John 4:34-38). They responded to the cry of the orphans and widows (James 1:27; Galatians 6:10). There was a time when leaders were serious about training leaders and teachers (Ephesians 4;11-16; 2 Timothy 2:1-3). In the last few years, however, these visionary leaders have dropped drastically in numbers. Peter may well have described them in these words: “But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins” (2 Peter 1:9).
As today’s leaders clean their spiritual lens for God’s work and launch new efforts to empower the church with a vision, they must recast it in harmony with God’s eternal vision for the church. A vision that was cast before the foundation of the world (cf. Ephesians 1:3-7). It is a vision articulated by Isaiah in these words: And it shall come to pass in the last days that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow into it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem (Isaiah 2:1,2).
We understand this vision was launched in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost and blazed a path into all the world (Colossians 1:23), just as Jesus had commanded (Matthew 28:18-20). What did those first century visionary leaders have that leaders don’t seem to have today in the twenty-first century? It wasn’t money. We have more than they had. It wasn’t education. We have better education than they had (Acts 4:12,13). It wasn’t church buildings and programs. They had none. It wasn’t better transportation. We can circle the globe in a matter of hours. It wasn’t printed materials or media. They had none. It wasn’t approval by the government. They were persecuted for their faith. They didn’t propagate a politically correct religion. They preached there was only one way (cf. John 14:6; Acts 4:11-13).
They weren’t interested in Christianity for what they could financially get out of it; they gave up what they had to help others (cf. Acts 4:31-37). It was “more blessed to give than to receive” (cf. Acts 20:35). First century visionary leaders were sold on being bold. Note these verses in the Book of Acts: “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John…that with all boldness they may speak thy word…they spake the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:13, 29, 31). The common thread of boldness runs throughout the book of Acts and concludes with this statement about the apostle Paul: “Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, not man forbidding him” (Acts 28:31). The righteous are bold as lions (cf. Proverbs 28:1). Jesus set the example of boldness (cf. John 7:26). It takes bold leaders to proclaim and support a bold vision for God’s work. The boldness of visionary leaders is driven by faith. They know that “without faith it is impossible to please God” (cf. Hebrews 11:16). Visionary leaders “walk by faith and not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). They believe with Christ’s blessings and strength they can “do all things” (Philippians 4:13). The faith of visionary leaders is larger than the balance on their checkbooks; it is more powerful than their own feeble efforts; it trusts in God and His power regardless of circumstances (cf. Ephesians 3:20).
In a day of declining church growth, post modernism, divisions of ever shade, a loss of interest in leadership, and much more; it is time for God’s leadership team to make His vision our vision. It is time to revision what the church in the first century saw and carried out as their mission. We don’t need a “new vision”, we just need to recommit ourselves to the one prepared by God before the foundation of the world. It will be alright to add our personal dreams and ways of carrying out this vision. God expects us to use commonsense and methods in harmony with Scriptural principles. The three-fold mission of the church is to (1) edify, (2) equip, and (3) evangelize. This is the job of leadership (Ephesians 4:11-16). Therefore, since we have our vision statement and mission objectives given by God, it behooves us to be about our Father’s business. We will not have missionaries until we have visionaries.
Dr Turner’s leadership books may be purchased through the Dr. J.J. Turner Publicationslink at the top of this page.
We have all heard, read and studied the story of Noah and the ark. It is a favorite Bible story. But I wonder how many of us have looked at these grand old set of truths with the idea of leadership in mind? That’s what we will do in this lesson: Study the numerous leadership lessons to be gained from Noah and the ark. In order to prepare for this study you should read Genesis 6-8.
Here are 25 major lessons from Noah and the building of the ark:
1. God can always do great things out of the midst of chaos (Genesis 6:1-7, 1-13).
2. God always has a mission for a righteous man (Genesis 6:9, 13).
3. No other person may have been asked to do what God wants you to do (Genesis 6:14, “Build me an ark”).
4. God will be with you as you do His will (Genesis 6:18, 22).
5. Do things in pairs—there’s strength in numbers (Genesis 6:19-21).
6. The ark was built by an amateur, not a professional.
7. Use what you have—“gopher wood”—not steel, pre-fabrication, etc.
8. Take care of your health because God may have a mission for you in old age (Genesis 7:11, Noah was 600).
9. Finish what you start (Genesis 6:22).
10. Before you rock the boat, remember others are on it with you (Team building).
11. Don’t be afraid to launch an untested boat, in untried waters. Walk by faith!
12. Do not worry about what others think about your “strange project.”
13. You can build “your ark” right where you are.
14. Don’t neglect your family—share your ark with them.
15. Ride out the storm—it won’t last forever—the sky will clear—sail on.
16. Put on your raincoat even though you’ve never experienced rain—be ready.
17. Don’t fret about not having any “boat building experience.”
18. Speed isn’t important—great things take time, be patient. (Noah was).
19. God is smarter than you are—obey, even if you don’t fully understand.
20. Look for the dove—the signs that you have finished the assignment.
21. No matter how severe the storm (or challenge), God will always provide a rainbow.
22. Celebrate after the “cruise” (job) is finished (Genesis 8:20-22)—worship God. 23. Believe in what you don’t understand, or haven’t experienced.
24. God doesn’t sponsor failures—trust Him.
25. Be careful not to drop your guard after success (Genesis 9:18-29). God has an ark for all of us to build as we lead his church to accomplishing the assignments he has given us. Learn from Noah.
Is your leadership team ready to build an ark? Are you? The Jeremiah Institute has prepared numerous helps for equipping the local church to fulfil the mission given by God. Want a Diploma of Biblical Leadership? Check our course offerings. Need a leadership seminar or training program? Check our leadership section. Contact us through our CONTACT icon.