- In Contrast With: This is the positive step of beginning to sense a shift in calling or being attracted to a new ministry vehicle. While this is not an eventual reality for all visionary leaders it will happen for many of them. And by the way, it’s difficult for many senior leaders to watch this happen without sensing betrayal or hurt. This is normal. Yet from God’s perspective, isn’t it natural that a strong emerging visionary will develop completely a new “holy discontent?” Won’t he see new problems and want to find new solutions? The term “in contrast with” is helpful because oftentimes in the mind of the developing visionary, the language of the new is contrasted with and compared to the existing vision. (Hence we talk about missional vs. attractional approaches or going to unreached people groups vs. growing an existing flock.) For example the student pastor starts dreaming of planting a different kind of church in contrast with the vision he has been serving in.
Stage Three: VISION CARRYING
At this pivotal place, the vision casting stage has matured to a point of full ownership, most often embodied by the senior position or lead role. Hence, not every visionary leaders reaches this point. And it is wrong, in my opinion, to expect that all visionary leaders should aspire to. (Or we would have not visionary second-chair leaders or visionary teams.)
The greatest experiential difference for the vision carrier is the increasing awareness that the vision came from God not himself. Over time, a greater convergence of spiritual maturity, life circumstances, and divine relationships unveil how little the vision truly emerged from within. Eventually he sees how God was orchestrating the events of life to the point that he knows that God himself gave him a vision to carry. Of course his practice of vision-casting hits full-bloom as the vision grows and expands from an ever-strengthening identity and awareness of God calling.
The final stage is one that fewer leaders reach because it is found only with unusual favor AND demonstrated success as a vision carrier over a long time. The success builds a platform of extraordinary influence beyond what was ever imagined. Hence, I believe this stage is experience by leaders in or after their fifties. The feeling of “carrying” a vision for a time, which is in itself a stewardship, moves to an even greater awareness of unplanned, yet God-ordained impact. For the best leaders, this enables them to guard a humble spirit and embrace a broader influence. For example the student pastor plants a church that becomes a church planting movement, or or transforms a city or adopts an unreached people group. At this stage, decades of vision carrying are seen from a different and more enlightened perspective.Stage Four: DESTINY STEWARDING
At this stage it’s easy for current names to come to mind like Rick Warren or Bill Hybelsor T.D. Jakes or Mark Driscoll or Andy Stanley. But I believe there are thousands and thousands of leaders who reach this point, that we will never read about. Despite tremendous impact, they steward a more silent destiny.
So how do you react to this initial framing of these stages? Specifically how does this match up to your personal experience? What would you add or tweak or take away? Thanks for considering a response.