In the business world, and in the personal development and self-help movements, it is common to promote the setting of goals. Defining objectives is considered foundational to directing individual and corporate efforts. In Christian circles, the usual way of describing this is as “vision.” In other words, setting one’s mind and heart on a desired future outcome for our life.
Bottom Line: The way you see your future is the way you will live your future.
Something To Talk About:
Vision is the bridge between the present and the future. Without it we perish or go “unrestrained,” as the New American Standard Bible puts it. Vision gives pain a purpose. Those without vision spend their lives taking the path of least resistance rather than living the life God intended for each of us.
- Vision unplugged: So many people set goals at the beginning of the year without projecting their thoughts and actions out into the future and thinking about how they fit into the big picture. Vision is what we see, but it is also the way in which we see. Vision is the lens that interprets the events of our life, the way we view people and our concept of God. We need a vision to keep us focused on God.
- Believe God can change your situation: Sometimes when hard things last way too long, our hearts can get hard or angry. But God doesn’t allow the difficult trials and situations to stay in your life to make you hard and angry. Anger over what doesn’t change in your life does not change you for the better, it changes you for the worse. So why would we think this wasn’t true with God? The salvation we experience in Jesus Christ starts the moment we decide to put our faith in Him. Everything changes in that moment. Our eternity takes on new meaning and a new level of hope. I think as believers we get this, yet we fail to trust God with the other moments of our life. I don’t know what your current situation is. I don’t know what the last few years have looked like for you. I don’t know what God’s plan is for you or how or when He will intervene in your situation. But I do know this: Believe God has a plan for our lives and it will change our situation for the better. But those moments don’t come without the wait. And they don’t come without faith.
- Ignore the negative voices: They are there even though we try to ignore them and deny their existence. Whatever our minds focus on is what will play out in our lives and eventually shape who we are. If we let negative thoughts get roots they have the power to control our lives, gradually steering us and possibly our faith, in a direction we do not want to go. Ignore them and focus on God.
- Receive your vision in faith: Vision does not happen unless we are committed. We must be determined, in spite of any obstacles to see it through. It can be challenging to stay the course when there are bumps in the road, when we don’t understand and cannot see what God is doing. Our faith will be tested. You may be tempted to question your ability to succeed, the decisions you made, and your reasons for pursuing your vision. Hold onto faith because it will breathe life and hope into your vision and help you when you are ready to give up.
- Stick with Jesus on the road He travels: God will never give you a vision without showing you what to do. But since God does not communicate with us via email or texts, we have to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading and promptings. This means that we need to pray and ask, be still before Him to listen for direction, trust Him to provide what we need, and follow Him throughout the vision journey. That means we need to do what the Lord is telling us to do. And guess what? It may not be what we want or even what we expect. We need to be intentional. And make sure that you follow God’s instruction every step of the way. Remember, it’s His vision, and everything that He is showing you will come to pass. Our job is to follow.
- In what area of life are you most tempted to settle for mediocrity when God is asking you to kick it up a notch and experience more of what He has planned for you?
- Every person needs a vision for their life: agree or disagree and why?
- A clarified, articulated, agreed-upon vision might be the key to experiencing more of God’s grace than you’ve ever tasted before in your life, marriage, or small group: Agree or disagree and why?
- Vision breeds commitment and investment: Agree or disagree and why?
- Does a new vision mean a new identity?
- Do you have enough faith to reach out to God and to keep reaching when things don’t happen the way you think they should?
- The world around us tells us that all sorts of superficial things are important. It’s hard to refocus on what God says matters most. How can a vision renew and refocus our thoughts?
- We all come to marriage with expectations. When they aren’t met, we are disappointed and sometimes disillusioned. Some of those expectations are fair; others are unrealistic. What should our vision be for marriage? Other relationships?
- Did God stir you or show you something? Is there an action to take? Or going back to the first question, is there an intention that you’d like to make in the next 30 or 60 days?
- What can we do this week in the vision area?
Take one thing home with you:
Developing a vision is one thing, establishing goals is another. Goals are simply the vision broken down into smaller pieces that are measurable in time and space. In other words, they are specified parts of the mission that we will accomplish by a predetermined date. Many people don’t like to set goals because they think that if they are not able to accomplish them on time, they have failed. The truth of the matter is that, “If you fail to plan you plan to fail.” Great leaders know that setting goals is what gives the mission a sense of urgency. So the final stage of your vision is establishing your steps. Proverbs says, “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” (16:9). Psalms says, “The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.” (37:23-24). Steps are your day-in, day-out walk with God: the step-by-step, moment-by-moment, hour-by-hour decisions you make and the things you do that take up your time and use up your life. When your vision is focused on God, He will be delighted to direct your steps.