January 26, 2021
Article from

The Gift Of Vision

A vision worth pursuing will be true to your core purpose and be good for those you are charged with serving.

Read MoreBuy the book
“In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.”  - Acts 2:17-18

The Age Of Visions - The Age Of The Spirit 

In Acts 2, Peter explains that the crowd gathered on the day of Pentecost was not drunk, but was instead the fulfillment of what was prophesied over 500 years earlier by the prophet Joel. Jesus had risen from the dead, and God was pouring out His power and guidance on His people through the Holy Spirit. 

Since that incredible day, God’s gave his people the power to prophesy, dream, and have visions about how things should and will be. Martin Luther, the German theologian and church reformer, once said that prophesying, visions, and dreams are "all one thing." John Stott quotes Luther in his commentary on the book of Acts. In The Book of Acts, Stott says, “In this sense all God’s people are now prophets, just as all are also priests and kings. So Luther understood prophecy here as ‘the knowledge of God through Christ which the Holy Spirit kindles and makes to burn through the word of the gospel.'”

Visions for Life and Leadership 

What did you grow up dreaming about? What did you want to be? Are some of those dreams now true? If you are like most of us, some of those dreams are now true and some things have turned out far different than you imagined. The experience of both fulfilled and unfulfilled dreams shape us into who we are.

Now, as a leader you are charged with casting and communicating a vision and its benefits while at the same time encouraging people to follow. It’s important that we know how to use a vision to inspire those we lead. We need a vision to guide the success of both short-term events and long-term goals. If you are a parent then you know a vision for the day's activities can be an important way to get a child started in the morning. A well-planned schedule of events pointing to the result of a successful day is equally helpful in the workplace. We can use a next-level vision for how a difficult conversation can turn out for good. Business leaders need to be able to cast a vision of the future that inspires people to give their best even when no one is looking. 

In Andy Stanley’s book, Visioneering, he points out how a good vision compliments our purpose and gives us meaning. "A vision gives you a reason to get up in the morning. If you don’t show up, something important won’t be accomplished. Suddenly, you matter. You matter a lot! Without you, what could be—what should be—won’t be. A vision makes you an important link between current reality and the future. That dynamic gives your life purpose. And purpose carries with it the momentum to move you through the barriers that would otherwise slow you down and trip you up.”

Four Components of an Effective Vision 

Andy Stanley mentions four effective components every compelling vision needs using Nehemiah’s speech to the Israelites.

“Then I said to them, ‘You see the bad situation we are in, that Jerusalem is desolate and its gates burned by fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem that we may no longer be a reproach.’ I told them how the hand of my God had been favorable to me and also about the king’s words which he had spoken to me.” (Nehemiah 2:17–18)

1. The problem: Jerusalem is desolate and its gates have been burned by fire.

2. The solution: The wall of Jerusalem needs to be rebuilt.

3. The reason something must be done: So God's people will no longer be a disgrace.

4. The reason something must be done now: To restore their dignity and honor God. 

This applies equally to the young child we are trying to teach to tie their shoes (so he/she doesn't fall) and to employees who are working on a critical project that will lead to a new future for everyone involved.

Paint A Vivid Picture Of Success 

It's true what they say: Pictures are often more powerful than words. So, when our vision is for something that has not happened, we need to paint a vivid picture with our words. Jim Collins and Jerry I Porras explain how to do this in, "Building Your Company’s Vision” for Harvard Business Review. “An envisioned future needs what we call vivid description—that is, a vibrant, engaging, and specific description of what it will be like to achieve the BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal). Think of it as translating the vision from words into pictures, of creating an image that people can carry around in their heads. It is a question of painting a picture with your words. Picture painting is essential for making the 10-to-30-year BHAG tangible in people’s minds.” They go on to give the example of Henry Ford.

“I will build a motor car for the great multitude… It will be so low in price that no man making a good salary will be unable to own one and enjoy with his family the blessing of hours of pleasure in God’s great open spaces… When I’m through, everybody will be able to afford one, and everyone will have one. The horse will have disappeared from our highways, the automobile will be taken for granted…[and we will] give a large number of men employment at good wages.”

What a beautiful vision Henry Ford had. It was bold, full of purpose, and offered plenty of reasons to get on board and get to work right away.

The Most Important Part - Vision Alignment With Our Source

We all dream and have visions, but how do we know which ones to follow and which ones to let go? A vision worth pursuing will be true to your core purpose and be good for those you are charged with serving. God’s Word is clear that we don’t want to follow dreams that could ultimately hurt others, ourselves, reject authority, or blaspheme against anything that God intended (Jude 1:8). For this reason we have to seek the good of those we lead as defined by the Bible. This means a vision worth pursuing is consistent with why God made us and the Purpose He gives us. This means if we are going to act on our dream it must align with what God has made clear through His word. It means that since one day the whole world will bow to King Jesus (whether they believe in him now or not), our visions and actions should help lead us (and others) to know God better now. We should test our thoughts, dreams, and visions against God’s glorious reality of the future. 

Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they were saying:  “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!”  - Revelation 5:11-13
Share this post
Howard Graham
Howard Graham
Executive Director
“In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.”  - Acts 2:17-18

The Age Of Visions - The Age Of The Spirit 

In Acts 2, Peter explains that the crowd gathered on the day of Pentecost was not drunk, but was instead the fulfillment of what was prophesied over 500 years earlier by the prophet Joel. Jesus had risen from the dead, and God was pouring out His power and guidance on His people through the Holy Spirit. 

Since that incredible day, God’s gave his people the power to prophesy, dream, and have visions about how things should and will be. Martin Luther, the German theologian and church reformer, once said that prophesying, visions, and dreams are "all one thing." John Stott quotes Luther in his commentary on the book of Acts. In The Book of Acts, Stott says, “In this sense all God’s people are now prophets, just as all are also priests and kings. So Luther understood prophecy here as ‘the knowledge of God through Christ which the Holy Spirit kindles and makes to burn through the word of the gospel.'”

Visions for Life and Leadership 

What did you grow up dreaming about? What did you want to be? Are some of those dreams now true? If you are like most of us, some of those dreams are now true and some things have turned out far different than you imagined. The experience of both fulfilled and unfulfilled dreams shape us into who we are.

Now, as a leader you are charged with casting and communicating a vision and its benefits while at the same time encouraging people to follow. It’s important that we know how to use a vision to inspire those we lead. We need a vision to guide the success of both short-term events and long-term goals. If you are a parent then you know a vision for the day's activities can be an important way to get a child started in the morning. A well-planned schedule of events pointing to the result of a successful day is equally helpful in the workplace. We can use a next-level vision for how a difficult conversation can turn out for good. Business leaders need to be able to cast a vision of the future that inspires people to give their best even when no one is looking. 

In Andy Stanley’s book, Visioneering, he points out how a good vision compliments our purpose and gives us meaning. "A vision gives you a reason to get up in the morning. If you don’t show up, something important won’t be accomplished. Suddenly, you matter. You matter a lot! Without you, what could be—what should be—won’t be. A vision makes you an important link between current reality and the future. That dynamic gives your life purpose. And purpose carries with it the momentum to move you through the barriers that would otherwise slow you down and trip you up.”

Four Components of an Effective Vision 

Andy Stanley mentions four effective components every compelling vision needs using Nehemiah’s speech to the Israelites.

“Then I said to them, ‘You see the bad situation we are in, that Jerusalem is desolate and its gates burned by fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem that we may no longer be a reproach.’ I told them how the hand of my God had been favorable to me and also about the king’s words which he had spoken to me.” (Nehemiah 2:17–18)

1. The problem: Jerusalem is desolate and its gates have been burned by fire.

2. The solution: The wall of Jerusalem needs to be rebuilt.

3. The reason something must be done: So God's people will no longer be a disgrace.

4. The reason something must be done now: To restore their dignity and honor God. 

This applies equally to the young child we are trying to teach to tie their shoes (so he/she doesn't fall) and to employees who are working on a critical project that will lead to a new future for everyone involved.

Paint A Vivid Picture Of Success 

It's true what they say: Pictures are often more powerful than words. So, when our vision is for something that has not happened, we need to paint a vivid picture with our words. Jim Collins and Jerry I Porras explain how to do this in, "Building Your Company’s Vision” for Harvard Business Review. “An envisioned future needs what we call vivid description—that is, a vibrant, engaging, and specific description of what it will be like to achieve the BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal). Think of it as translating the vision from words into pictures, of creating an image that people can carry around in their heads. It is a question of painting a picture with your words. Picture painting is essential for making the 10-to-30-year BHAG tangible in people’s minds.” They go on to give the example of Henry Ford.

“I will build a motor car for the great multitude… It will be so low in price that no man making a good salary will be unable to own one and enjoy with his family the blessing of hours of pleasure in God’s great open spaces… When I’m through, everybody will be able to afford one, and everyone will have one. The horse will have disappeared from our highways, the automobile will be taken for granted…[and we will] give a large number of men employment at good wages.”

What a beautiful vision Henry Ford had. It was bold, full of purpose, and offered plenty of reasons to get on board and get to work right away.

The Most Important Part - Vision Alignment With Our Source

We all dream and have visions, but how do we know which ones to follow and which ones to let go? A vision worth pursuing will be true to your core purpose and be good for those you are charged with serving. God’s Word is clear that we don’t want to follow dreams that could ultimately hurt others, ourselves, reject authority, or blaspheme against anything that God intended (Jude 1:8). For this reason we have to seek the good of those we lead as defined by the Bible. This means a vision worth pursuing is consistent with why God made us and the Purpose He gives us. This means if we are going to act on our dream it must align with what God has made clear through His word. It means that since one day the whole world will bow to King Jesus (whether they believe in him now or not), our visions and actions should help lead us (and others) to know God better now. We should test our thoughts, dreams, and visions against God’s glorious reality of the future. 

Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they were saying:  “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!”  - Revelation 5:11-13

Subscribe to email updates.

Sign up to receive resources and weekly updates.