This time of year is the season of imagining a better future. We resolve to transform ourselves into an improved version for 2018. Through a new diet, devotions, or any other goal, we are envisioning how we want our lives to look.
Yet, how many of us have given up on our New Year’s resolutions by February?
As Christian women, we can only benefit by growing into God’s vision for us rather than vainly striving to fulfill our own or our culture’s ambitions for us.
If you aren’t familiar with TWR Women of Hope, we focus on five core objectives to encourage, equip, and engage women to find their hope in Jesus – one of these is leadership development. Since our 2018 theme is “Going Deeper,” we thought January was the perfect time to start discussing leadership principles.
Whether you are a recognized leader in your workplace or church or someone who is beginning to realize the influence that you have in others' lives, we pray that this series will be a blessing to you.
Without further ado, here are some thoughts from Dr. Peggy Banks on vision and mission.
How do you define vision and mission?
As women in ministry, I think leadership vision and mission is about influence. Vision is a way of ensuring we are focusing on the matters that are important to God - ways we live and function to bring glory to God and influence the world for Jesus. A good vision examines the past, paints a picture of a better future for the ministry, and deals with the issues of today in the ministry. The mission is the way to influence others to know the ministry and Jesus Christ as Sustainer and Savior.
How does being a Christian affect how a leader identifies and implements vision and mission?
Being a Christian woman in leadership is shaped by the principles and lessons of leadership that are outlined throughout the Bible. We are also accountable to God to carry out a vision and mission that brings glory to God alone.
What is an example of a leader implementing vision and mission well?
There are many good examples of leaders implementing vision and mission. Some of the greatest heroes of leadership are found in the Bible: Moses, Abraham, Miriam, Ruth, Deborah, John the Baptist, the apostles John, Peter, and James, Paul; Phoebe, Lydia, and, of course, Jesus.
In my life, I have had the wonderful privilege to work with some amazing leaders. Dr. Marianne May, Dr. Bev Hislop, Pastor John Chinelly, and Pastor Geoff Buck, just to name a few. They all possessed some of the same leadership qualities that I believe are very Jesus-centered qualities. They all served with great integrity, honesty, humility, hard work, edification, and servant leadership. They believed in the leadership lessons of Jesus and lived out the message of the gospel in how they loved and served others.
What are some common mistakes you have seen leaders make in this area?
One of the greatest killers of effective vision and mission is pride. We start to believe we have all the answers and are the keeper of the vision and mission when all along they belong to God. We discount what others offer to the vision and mission, take credit for all the accomplishments, and cast blame for the challenges and obstacles. Or, we struggle with the fear of man and seek to please people more than God.
“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man?
If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
Another killer of the vision and mission is the desire to quit when difficulties arise or others disagree with you. Sometimes God is testing the leader's commitment to stay true to the vision and to believe God will accomplish what he has promised, even in difficulty. Many places in the Scriptures we see opposition to a leader’s vision. Yet, perseverance brings power in the Holy Spirit, and power accomplishes the promises of God for the leader. (Joshua 1:8; Nehemiah 1-3; Job 42:2; Romans 8:28)
How do I practically develop a vision and mission as a leader?
For a Christian leader developing a vision and mission, the process begins with prayer. We must seek God's vision and mission for us and our ministries, and not our vision and mission for Him. He has an assignment for each of us as leaders to accomplish His ultimate purpose and vision for the world.
Next, we must observe what is happening in the world. What are the needs? Where are the problems? What is the heart of God for the world? As we seek the Lord, he gives us the desire of our hearts (Psalm 37:4). As we delight ourselves in the Lord, we start to have the heart of God for the needs of our world, community, church, and family. As we are seeking him, we start to find a need that becomes evident to us and becomes a great passion for our lives.
Write it down
It is important to write the vision and mission down. Write and rewrite them over and over. Pray, seek him, and write again. God will reveal the final vision and mission in the process.
As a Christian leader, called to lead with vision and mission, we must have a deep understanding of the way God has created us with unique gifts, talents, and abilities. It is important, through assessments, mentoring, and prayer, to identify these. Awareness of God’s presence in our life and our own unique gifts and abilities are very important qualities of an effective leader. It is important to know and believe in how God has gifted us uniquely to accomplish the vision and mission.
Build a team
In developing a vision and mission, a leader must have trusted friends who can guide and help her to accomplish what God is revealing. It is very important to have a group of people that come alongside, whether as a board of directors, mentors, or colleagues to pray and support the vision and mission.
There are many more things to consider that we will cover in upcoming blog posts.
For someone who may not consider herself a leader, how would you encourage her to see the value of vision and mission?
As Christian women, we all have a purpose and mission to live a life that brings glory to God (2 Corinthians 5:14). God is using our lives to tell the world about His love and grace. We have a great opportunity to accomplish much for God within each of our unique life situations. (John 14:12)
Every woman has a place where she is influencing others. It may begin as she leads her family, by living a life that reflects the love and grace of Jesus to her husband and children. A woman in the workplace has an opportunity to influence her colleagues by her integrity, humility, and love in the day-to-day tasks and responsibilities that she holds.
Leadership is painting a picture with our lives that reflects a future that is dependent and surrendered to God, a God who is present and powerful enough to accomplish all his plans through our lives. I encourage every woman to embrace her God-given gifts and to influence others toward a life fully surrendered to God for comfort, courage, power, and purpose. Then encourage family, friends, staff, volunteers, and all others in our sphere of influence to live out a life that follows the way of Jesus. This is Christian leadership.
Where do you see vision and mission in the Scriptures?
Here are just a few passages of Scripture to explore vision and mission: Genesis 12:1-3; Exodus 4-6; Jeremiah 29:11;Isaiah 6:8; Joshua 1-2; Nehemiah 1-3; Esther 4-5; Judges 4 (Deborah); Matthew 28:18-20; Luke 24:46-48; John 20:21; Acts 1:8; Colossians 3:1-17; 1 Peter 2:9-10.
What is a key takeaway that you think all leaders should remember about vision and mission?
You can make your plans, but let God direct your steps.
Jesus taught the disciples that when we pray, we pray for “God’s kingdom to come, God’s will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:9-10). As we seek him for vision and mission, let God reveal himself in his Word and through others to show us the way to serve, so that it is God’s will, and not our own.
It is God’s vision and mission working through us so the world will know Jesus (2 Corinthians 3:6). We are his “ambassadors as though God was making his appeal through us.” (2 Corinthians 5:20)
Scriptures to Consider
"The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps."
"Many plans are in a man's heart, but the counsel of the LORD will stand."
"The steps of a man are established by the LORD, and he delights in his way."
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight."
"The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of his heart from generation to generation."
"Commit your works to the LORD, and your plans will be established."
"Then my God put it into my heart to assemble the nobles, the officials, and the people to be enrolled by genealogies. Then I found the book of the genealogy of those who came up first in which I found the following record:"
"Your ears will hear a word behind you, "This is the way, walk in it," whenever you turn to the right or to the left."
If you were encouraged or challenged by this, would you let us know or share it with a friend? I plan to cover a different topic every month, so your feedback is helpful as we strive to serve you and our readers better.