StartLeading: Vision & Clarity – Greg Jao

My eyesight is terrible. When I don’t wear my glasses, I shuffle forward. I’m constantly reaching for the next handhold. I’m nervous about tripping up. I can’t recognize people just a few feet away.

When my vision is clear, I run. I take risks. I leap over obstacles. I recognize people and opportunities (Look! My friend. And a bookstore just ahead!) When my vision is clear, I know where to go and how to get there.

vision glassesWhat’s true for me individually is true for any group. When the vision is clear, everyone in the group moves ahead with freedom, courage, and clarity. So how do you make your vision clear?

A Vision You Can See

A vision has power when the words evoke a concrete, clear image. It’s literally a picture of the future. Too often personal and collective visions are merely vague aspirations (e.g., “excellent service”, “bold evangelism”, “be a good student.”) A good vision, though, makes the aspiration concrete: “Our customers spontanously call us to thank us for our work.” “Every student in the college has been invited to respond to the Gospel personally, relevantly, and graciously from a friend in the fellowship at least once before they graduate.” “My professors encourage me to take another class with them.”

As you work to clarify vision, use your senses. What would it look like if we succeeded? Sound like? Feel like? Smell like?

In the New York/New Jersey region of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA, we described our vision for student transformation this way:

We envision a future where students first hear about InterVarsity from campus tour guides who describe us on every tour as the largest and most dynamic student group on campus. During the year, they see people who have an intimate relationship with God and whose actions and attitudes reflect a biblical worldview, a holistic engagement with Scripture and the world, and a growing experience of personal holiness and transformation. They discover that our activities and publicity, members and ministries regularly awaken an awareness of their need for God. They find themselves intrigued by the topics of the large group meetings, compelled to attend special events, and strangely drawn to the vibrant prayer meetings and bible studies. Because they each know two or three InterVarsity members, they have been invited – sensitively, relevantly, and clearly – to become a follower of Jesus at least once or twice before they graduate. And they know each InterVarsity member can name at least 2-3 friends on campus who have made that same decision. Because InterVarsity exists, students give their allegiance and love to Jesus – and become witnesses to the way the Holy Spirit grows them in Christlikeness and empowers them for mission.

Clear enough for you?

Next Step: Take the vision statement of a group you belong to (as an employee, member, or leader) and write a “vivid description” of what you aspire to accomplish. Share it in the comments below.



StartLeading: Develop New Leaders – Are you a Searchlight or Spotlight? – Jason Gaboury

Pick Your Seat

Find the brightest spot in the room.  Square your shoulders.  Make an impression!  These were just a few of the maxims David taught us.  As an aspiring actor in my first ‘real’ job, I was quick to learn.  Success as an actor would mean finding the light.  It would mean picking the chair in the spotlight.


The seat in the spotlight is influential, but the influence is limited.

Spotlight or Searchlight

By the Sea of Galilee Jesus chose a different seat.  He got into a boat belonging to a fisherman named Simon and taught the crowds.  (My guess is that he had one eye on Peter the whole time.)  After that was done, Jesus focuses in on Peter drawing him (and his partners) into an adventure that would change their lives.  At the turning point of this story (read it for yourself in Luke 5) are Jesus’ words, “Follow me and I’ll make you fish for people.”

It isn’t immediately obvious how different these two seats are.  After all, doesn’t Jesus use the water as an amplifier?  Isn’t he positioning himself in the spotlight?  Luke’s emphasis (and Jesus’) is different.  The story is about Jesus’ catch of Peter.  It’s Peter and the other disciples becoming ‘fishers of men’ that Jesus is focused on.  In the hands of the master, the spotlight turns into a searchlight looking for others to advance his work.

Expert or Multiplier

As ministry leaders we have to choose what seat we’re going to occupy.  We can choose the spotlight, honing our ministry skills, becoming experts, expanding our capacities to teach, preach, organize, evangelize, and manage.  Or we can sit with a searchlight looking to identify, develop, and multiply others to carry the mission forward.

Great leaders choose the searchlight.  This doesn’t mean that leaders never get up in front.  Leadership requires moments of sitting in the spotlight, clarifying vision, catalyzing a movement, or calling for commitment.  But most often the leadership seat is the one where you catapult others to carry the mission forward.

Which Seat Do You Want?

What seat do you want?  Really?  Are you drawn by the potential influence of being the ministry expert, the hub of activity, the one making the big impression?  Or do you want to release other people to make their biggest potential impact?  Both great talent and great leaders serve the kingdom of God.  There’s room for both, but it’s helpful to be clear which seat you’re choosing.

Pick your seat.