The Power of Vision:
Seven Characteristics of Godly Vision
By Dr. Ron Woodworth
Introduction: A pioneering spirit gone bad…
“About 350 years ago a shipload of travelers landed on the northeast coast ofAmerica. The first year they established a town site. The next year they elected a town government. The third year the town government planned to build a road five miles westward into the wilderness. In the fourth year the people tried to impeach their town government because they thought it was a waste of public funds to build a road five miles westward into a wilderness. “Who needs to go there anyway?” was their outcry.
Here were people who had the vision to see three thousand miles across an ocean and overcome great hardships to get there. But in just a few years they were not able to see even five miles out of town. They had lost their pioneering vision and vitality. With a clear vision of what we can become in Christ, no ocean of difficulty is too great. Without it, we rarely move beyond our current boundaries.’i
Humor: When you’re up to your eyeballs in alligators it’s hard to remember that your original intention was to drain the swamp![Authors Note: This article will follow more of an outline format in order to compress the large amount of material on vision that I have accumulated over 30 years of ministryJ I encourage everyone to add your own commentary to each point…Selah & Enjoy!]
A. Vision Definition: “Vision is a compelling mental portrait of a preferable future, communicated by God to his people [individually and collectively through chosen leaders] based upon an accurate understanding of God, self and circumstances–all for the purpose of advancing God’s Kingdom.’ii
“But seek first his Kingdom and all the things you need in life will be provided for you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)
B. Vision is how we see and hear what God is trying to communicate to us. Jesus promises that all of his sheep will be guided in life through hearing his voice…
“The sheep [true believers] listen to his [Jesus’] voice and a stranger they will not follow…My sheep listen to my voice: I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:4-5, 27)
Seven Characteristics of Godly Vision…
Vision Characteristic #1:
Godly vision involves prophetic revelation from the Holy Spirit.
“Where there is no vision [progressively prophetic unfolding of the purpose of God]the people perish—or cast off restraint. [They disassociate from their collective identity and mission becoming self-absorbed, self-serving, and self-centered]; but blessed is he who continually keeps the word of the Lord.” (Proverbs 29:18)
Notice how vision unites people together for a common purpose as opposed to everyone separating to seek their own desires.
“He who separates himself seeks his own desire and quarrels against all sound reason.”(Proverbs 18:1)
“In the last days…I will pour out my Spirit…your sons and daughters will prophesy…young men will see visions, old men will dream dreams.” (Acts 2:17)
Here we see a direct connection between the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, which was begun at Pentecost, thus inaugurating the last days where visions and dreams will be given to God’s people—young and old. In a certain sense, a dream is something an older person sees but it is unattainable in their life time, whereas a younger person sees visions—which motivates them to apprehend something that can come to pass during their earthly sojourn. All young people who see visions will one day dream dreams for the next generation. In other words, the dreams of the old become the visions of the young.
“All men dream…but not equally. They who dream by night, in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it is vanity. But dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they act their dreams with open eyes to make it possible.” (T.E. Lawrence–of Arabia)
Vision Characteristic #2:
Godly vision is a basic human need
- Without the continual revelation of God’s word in our lives we cannot maintain spiritual vitality.
“Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that continually proceeds from the mouth of the living God.” (Matthew 4:4)
The two most important days of your life are:
The day you were born, and
The day you realize why you were born
Vision Characteristic #3:
Godly vision quickens faith and zeal to take action and perseverance to sustain the action taken.
A. The clearer your vision the more confident, bold, and courageous your action will be.
“The wicked flee when no one is even chasing them; but the righteous are bold [lit. confident] as lions.” (Proverbs 28:1)
B. Show me a zealous person and I’ll show you someone with vision. While others are waiting around in uncertainty the one with vision is empowered to take initiative.
“But those who know their God will take action.” (Daniel 11:32)
C. Prophetic revelation will sustain you during the “dark night of the soul.”
“Timothy…I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies previously made concerning you…so that…you may fight the good fight holding on to faith…”
(1 Timothy 1:18-19)
Vision Characteristic #4:
Godly vision can and should be shared with others who desire or need to hear what God is saying to them through you–starting with your kidsJ.
“Write the vision down and make it plain on tablets so that whoever reads it may run with it. For the vision will take place at the appointed time—it will not prove false or delay further. Though it lingers wait for it; for it will certainly come to pass.” (Habakkuk 2:2)
- If you want vision, you will need to read the writings of visionaries—those who have been graced by God with a greater revelation of his Kingdom purpose.
Those who read…lead!
- When God gives us vision is it important that we steward it by writing it down and communicating it with clarity so that it is readily discernable to others.
Vision Characteristic #5:
Godly vision must be consistently obeyed to be fully realized.
“As has just been said: ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the [wilderness] rebellion.’ For who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? And with whom was he [God] angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the desert? And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his [previously promised] rest– if not to those who disobeyed? So we see that they were not able to enter because of their unbelief.” (Hebrews 3:15-19)
Notice how it was lack of obedience NOT lack of vision that kept the Israelites from inheriting the Promised Land of Canaan.
In other words: The giants didn’t keep them out—their disobedience did!
So too, God’s vision for each of our lives cannot be undermined by the fearful giants in our way, but simply our lack of faith-born obedience–or what the author of Hebrews calls “unbelief.”
“So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision.” (Acts 26:19)
Clearly, part of Paul’s confession here confirms the necessity and compulsion to obedience in response to divine vision. In other words Paul could be saying, “I saw this vision from God and could do nothing else but comply…I feel this overwhelming sense of divine obligation that bears me along through all manner of suffering in order that what God has revealed might be fulfilled.”
Vision both compels and empowers us to obey.[Consider this proverb and be wise: The purposes of God are becoming so clear that only the obedient can follow.]
Vision Characteristic #6:
Godly vision leads to a change of present situations through a transformation of personal character.
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for the good of those who love the Lord and who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed [or “transformed,” See 2 Corinthians 4:18] to the likeness of his Son [Jesus].” (Romans 8:28-29a)
Note how God’s purpose, which is communicated to us by spiritual vision, involves BOTH an external working things together for good—AND an internal transformation of our character.iii
It’s like God has to use a compelling vision to motivate us to press toward a goal that can only ultimately be realized by the transformation of our being. Yet we, not discerning our personal deficiencies, think that God is only after us accomplishing something externally great for his kingdom—not realizing that only as Christ is formed within can we ever accomplish the work of God without.
Vision Characteristic #7:
Godly vision leads to a mission—which requires a plan to succeed.
- This is where vision takes on a practical dimension in order for it to be effectively obeyed. There are many whose obedience is ineffective simply because they have not yet discerned God’s progressive calling to the necessity of strategic planning. We must realize that anyone driven by godly vision is likewise commissioned to the task of planning in order for God’s vision to be accomplished.
-Proper prior prayerful planning prevents pitifully poor performance-[Testimony: I remember that as a young pastor I struggled with the entire realm of organization and planning—frankly thinking that they might divert me from true spirituality. Until one day when I was reflecting on the spiritual gifts of 1 Corinthians 12, when I noticed that the gift of administration was listed! I was shocked, that this was listed as a spiritual gift, and relieved because this is exactly what our ministry was sorely lacking at the time. Well, upon seeing this verse, I prayed for the gift of administration/organization and went my way. Probably less than a week later, I was in a Christian bookstore…was walking down an isle…when all of a sudden my eyes rested on a text called “The Art of Management for Christian Leaders” by Engstrom and Dayton of World Vision. Needless to say, I devoured the book and felt like I was born again—again! To make a long story short, over the next 25 years I actively pursued this grace even to the point of spending the first year of my doctoral studies on Organizational Leadership. In fact, part of what I do now is consult organizations (churches and businesses) on strategic planning. And, even though I am not a functional administrator I have definitely come to realize how important this practical gift is in helping the church accomplish its spiritual mission.]
A couple simple facts about planning for further consideration:
- A plan is a way, method, or scheme one employs in order for our vision to be fulfilled. In other words, a plan involves at least two things: An objective or goal, and a scheme or method to accomplish the objective.
Two examples of planning are a football game plan and a flight plan.
A. The objective in football is to win the game by scoring more goals/points than the opponent. The method to accomplish this objective requires, among other things, an offensive strategy, a defensive strategy, special teams, lots of coordinated practice together, etc.iv
B. In commercial flights the objective is to get passengers to their desired destination without incident. The method to accomplish this objective requires, among other things, a planeJ, a crew, passengers, distance information, required fuel, speed and altitude calculations, etc.v
For those still unconvinced that you will need planning expertise to get to where God wants to take you consider the following…
“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” (Proverbs 16:3)
“In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9)
“Make plans by seeking advice; if you wage war, obtain guidance.” (Proverbs 20:18)
“For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord. Plans for welfare and not for calamity. To give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
“Set up the tabernacle, according to the exact plan shown you on the mountain.”
“O men of Israel, Listen! God publicly endorsed Jesus of Nazareth by doing tremendous miracles through him…But God, following his prearranged plan, let you use the Roman government to nail him to the cross…But God released him from the horrors of death and brought him to life again.” (Acts 2:23-24)
Addendum A: Personal Vision & Mission Statement…[By way of example and encouragement for all who may be new at writing down their vision here’s my own]
Vision & Mission Statement
Of Ron Woodworth
(Begun 1975: Updated 2005)
By the love and grace of God, I have become a genuine disciple and honored servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. My life is fully devoted to bearing as much “fruit” as possible for the glory of God.
“This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” (John 15:8)
I believe that maximum “fruit bearing” will be realized as I utilize my primary spiritual giftings of leadership, communication (speaking & writing), encouragement, and music–in my “ministerial calling” to public ministry (preaching, teaching, worship) and leadership development.
“For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the Lord, and to practice and teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel.” (Ezra 7:10)
- Specifically, God has empowered me, by His Spirit, to teach the foundations of the Kingdom of God and the principles of New Testament Church life.
- The Lord has also envisioned, equipped and burdened me to be a coach/mentor to many of the next generation of church and marketplace ministry leaders.
My goal is to help nurture the global restoration of the church in as broad a sphere as God will grant me opportunity and grace (Acts 3:21). This I hope to accomplish through my public ministry, writing books, the media (radio, television, and internet), church and marketplace ministry consulting and coaching others.
Central (not secondary) to “bearing fruit” as a disciple and minister of the Lord Jesus is my commitment to my family. I want to continue growing as a loving and effective husband and father in the following ways:
- Fulfilling my wedding vows
- Nurturing my children in the Lord
- Enjoying my life in the context of my family relationships
Simply stated, my life’s purpose is: To learn…to love…to live…and to leave a legacy for the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen!
Addendum #2: For those interested in vision for a local church…
A General Definition of a Local Church:
A local church is a Holy Spirit empowered assembly of disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, who are lovingly devoted to a shared way of life together—and whose mission is to declare and demonstrate the Gospel of the Kingdom, in their attempt to rescue fallen humanity.
A General Mission Statement for a Local Church:
At [local church] we are helping to make fully devoted followers of the Lord Jesus Christ by reaching upward (in prayer and praise), inward (in care and training), outward (in service and witness), and forward (in vision and courage).[Contracted mission statement in motto form: At [local church] we are helping to make disciples of Jesus by reaching upward, inward, outward, and forward.]
Note: This statement would need to be further supplemented with a statement of values, (such as: relationship, grace, integrity, teamwork, relevance, humility and servanthood), statement of association (network/denomination), governmental structure (major policy and leadership staff determinations], organizational infrastructure (departmental/managerial designations and key leaders), roles (job descriptions), specific goals and priorities, budgeting considerations, scheduling/calendaring, evaluation mechanisms (360 degree performance reviews, S.W.A.T.& T. analysis), and celebration events.vi Note: All of these things may take some time and expertise to develop, but the journey will most certainly be rewarded for those diligent leaders whose personal mission is to skillfully guide God’s people to kingdom effectiveness.
Let the Lord be magnified.
[i] Quote from Lynn Anderson @ http://www.bible.org/illus.asp?topic_id=1648
[iii] Character is defined as “the complex of mental and ethical traits marking and often individualizing a person, group, or nation.” From Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary @http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/character.[iv] On the Special Olympics website @
there is detailed information on Essential Components of Planning a Football Training Session
[v] For those interested in more information, at http://www.fltplan.com/tutorial.htmthere is a detailed tutorial on developing a flight plan.
[vi] All of these planning steps are further discussed at www.RonWoodworth.Org –then press the Consulting button– then press the Planning Process button, or, at this present time go to http://22.214.171.124/consulting-planningprocess.aspx