Looking to the start of 2013 I find myself reflecting on a passage that you hear occasionally at this time of year. Here is that often misquoted or misused scripture – “Where there is no vision, the people perish”. It is found in the Old Testament in Proverbs 29:18. It is used many times from the pulpit to exhort us to catch the vision that the pastor has seen and to press us onward to the destination seen in the vision.
But I submit to you that there is a BIG difference between being a visionary and being a leader.
A visionary is someone who “sees” where we need to go. However, they may not have the skills necessary to actually lead us there. Visionaries are a little like Indian scouts. They may know how to read the signs and pick up clues that no one else picks up, but they have no clue how to get to the destination.
Providing vision is a skill that is often touted as being one of the key skills for pastors today to possess. A casual review of the current literature aimed at pastors indicates that this is a highly prized, if not “coveted” skill. But the ability to see where to go without the ability to get us there is a little bit like having a GPS or an old fashioned road map – but no car. Without a vehicle, the best the GPS can do is to tell us where we are. It does nothing to propel us toward our destination.
What about you? Are you able to see where to go? Or are you able to actually lead us to our destination? Being a visionary is not a bad thing. On the contrary, it is a very valuable skill. But, if I had to choose between the two, I would choose being a leader over being a visionary.
Perhaps even now, someone out there is already starting an online blogging community called “VisionaryVoices.com” for those folks who would make the other choice.