What is vision, and how does one define such an abstract concept? Vision can speak of physical sight, divine premonitions, dreams, or abstract ideas and thoughts. Therefore, vision as a word can vacillate dependent upon its context and, for each user, can mean something completely different. For many, vision is merely a projected goal that serves to motivate either self or others. However, in the context of religious leadership, vision is often a dynamic projection of a seemingly unattainable possibility that challenges the status quo.
Horizontal & Vertical Vision
Vision for the true spiritual leader, unlike the secular, is both horizontal and vertical. Think of a ladder whose bottom feet are set upon the earth (horizontal) and whose top reaches into the heavens (vertical) to explain this best. This best encapsulates vision as it relates to the spiritual leader. Therefore, the success of the religious leader (the visionary) is the ability to connect the vertical to the horizontal. Think of vision as a seed. If vision is not cast into the soil of earthy ground, it can never take root and develop. Vision, by itself, is an unplanted seed whose germination depends upon its being sown in the fields of the horizontal. However, casting the seed of vertical vision into horizontal fields merely engages the process of germination. This is just the beginning.
Consider the human body. First, everything begins with conception, and, from that point forward, the developmental stages of growth begin to occur. Vision is no different. First, vision must be conceived, yet failure occurs within the visionary process too often. Improper development of vision results in visionary stillbirth. Because of this, vision often remains static and results in an unchanging environment that returns to repeat an infinite cycle. Sadly, too many men desiring to act as visionaries do nothing more than proclaim the conception of vision as the actual breakthrough. Did breakthrough occur? No! To better illustrate this, there is a vast difference between promising technology and breakthrough technology. The former speaks of the potential of something in the future, whereas the latter speaks of the actual realization of here and now results. Promising vision is a long way from the realization of vision, but there is a bridge between the two called development. When a child is conceived in the womb of the mother, conception is the initial stage, and everything from that point forward leads toward the eventual breakthrough of a healthy child. The bridge between conception and breakthrough is development. The pregnancy itself is laborious, painful, and uncomfortable. Everything about the pregnancy and the anticipation of breakthrough demands changes in almost every area fathomable. However, and this is crucial, breakthrough (birth) doesn’t end the narrative of development! Breakthrough is the beginning! Vision is no different!
Herein, in regards to vision, too many would excitedly pump their fists in the air and declare, “It’s happened!” The relief, after all those long weeks and months carrying around the weight of a developing vision, can become a lulling siren of complacency. Too many churches are stumbling over the headstones of infantile visions because they didn’t realize the work was just beginning. Let me make a statement, loud and clear: the devil has adopted way too many spiritual newborns that were left in the field due to the negligence of a mother (Ezekiel 16:4-5). A newly birthed vision is exciting! It’s exciting to look around and see, touch, and partake in the labor of bringing the vision to realization. However, at this point, one should expect less sleep, fewer vacations, and fewer hobbies. The first moment that newly birthed vision is held in the arms of tangible realization, the mindset of the church must go into a mother’s protective process. Ears must become attuned to the myriad of cries, and eyes must watch for subtle signs of sickness or abnormalities that may arise. Call the visionary breakthrough revival, harvest, or a myriad of other religious pseudonyms, but I call it the beginning! Talk about having another baby (vision) only after you have secured the maturation process in the current baby (vision)! Don’t develop malnourished visions!
Singular Committed Focus
Resources must be in place to ensure the proper development of the vision. This is why, all too often, long before the birth of a vision, we put the proverbial cart before the horse! Many times, latching on to an Old Testament principle, we “build the extra room” but exhaust our resources so that we come up lacking the necessary staples of infancy development! A large room with a comfortable bed means nothing to a starving baby! Secure the horse before you buy the cart! The strength of developing vision lies in its singularity. It is impossible to find a needle in a haystack…or is it? What if one were to take a very large magnet and place it alongside the haystack? Exactly! A concentrated, singular force would draw upon that needle, once deemed unfindable, and bring it to the surface! This is why, when one gives birth to vision, peripheral issues seem to arise. The enemy recognizes that a singular, committed focus on newly birthed vision is crucial! Suppose the enemy can implement anything in our peripheral to break our alignment. In that case, he will succeed in potentially killing, stealing, or destroying what we have fought so hard to bring to breakthrough!
Undivided Focus & Commitment
“No man,” Jesus declared, “having put his hand to the plough and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God!” In other words, don’t start the process without dedicating all of your time, treasure, and talent to the entire process! Consider what Jesus was saying! Those that aren’t committed to the whole process to ensure maximum development are not fit for the kingdom. Although the word in Greek carries the connotation of not being “useful or prepared for,” it literally means “well-placed.” In other words, the man who doesn’t commit to the development process with a singular, undivided focus is “out-of-place”! God doesn’t cut crooked paths; he straightens them! Nothing stands out in Scripture more poignantly regarding undeveloped vision than the condition of the house of God that Hosea confronted. “Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your ceiled houses, and this house lie waste? …. Consider your ways! Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink, ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes.”
Note from the Author
This concludes, in part, a greater portion of a more extensive treatise. Part two, which will serve as the conclusion of the matter, will deal with the three key things every church must have in order for vision to reach maturation. These three elements have served to turn the tide in many churches across the nation. In fact, if found in a local church, these three elements cannot lead to anything but success.
About Timothy Hadden
Timothy Hadden is happily married and the father of three young children. He has traveled extensively, both in the United States and Internationally, as a sought-after Apostolic evangelist. Many of his revivals, often spanning several months, focused on creating a spiritual environment that promoted a profound move of God, thus enabling a spirit of revelation that further developed existing local ministries and empowered local church congregations to a greater dimension of Apostolic understanding and authority. The effects of these revivals are still being witnessed throughout many church congregations nationwide. Having felt the call of God to leave the evangelistic field, he and his family have relocated to the Portland, Oregon Metropolis, where they are developing a church plant called Antioch Northwest. Already, They are seeing unprecedented signs and miracles in one of the least churched cities in the Northwest. He curates an excellent blog called Search of Kings (searchofkings.com). In addition, he has authored a much-needed apostolic exegetical commentary on Exodus (Exodus: A Literary Commentary on the Book of Exodus).