How to Craft a Shared Vision

City of Angels — August, 2017.

Where would the Church be without the benefits and resources that have been given to the Church through successful, profitable and generous business ventures?

Where would business be without the moral and ethical influence, as well as, the weekly kingdom-focused teaching of the local Church?

In reading 1 Corinthians 7, we see Paul identify the calling of God upon the lives of believers in a variety of occupations. It’s clear that Paul sees the calling of God as not primarily occupational — but as primarily relational.

Throughout the chapter, we see Paul utilize the same word for “calling” in our current occupational roles as he does for our calling into a relationship with God. In fact, Paul goes on to say,

“Only, as the Lord has assigned to each one, as God has called each, in this manner let him walk. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches” (v. 17).

In other words, it is UNNECESSARY to lay down your current occupation or role in life in order to please God and “go into the ministry.” If God calls you into the ministry, then so be it, but you do not have to go into the ministry in order to gain God’s approval of your service for him.

With that said, I’ve become particularly perplexed by the audacity of some in the ministry who seem to act as if only they can hear the voice of God or see the vision of God.

In my humble opinion, one of the reasons our local churches chug along at 1 or 2% growth per year (if that) is because so many believe and expect the vision for the future of the organization to come thru that one Lone Ranger at the top of the organization — i.e. the pastor.

We wait for the pastor to “get the vision” so that we can grow our organization AND if the organization doesn’t grow, then clearly the pastor didn’t get the vision right. Right? Right.

Well, God’s vision is in His Word and any believer has the potential to interpret the vision that God has for his or her community. It’s not on one Lone Ranger to develop the vision for an organization, especially not the local Church (the most powerful organization in the world).

So, what if we took a shared vision approach?

A “shared vision” is something that Peter Senge writes about in his book The Fifth Discipline. You can purchase the book here:

According to Senge, the first step in mastering the discipline of building a shared vision is to give up the traditional belief that a vision is always announced from the top. Such a vision is a “one-shot” vision and once it is written, management assumes that they have now discharged their visionary casting duties.

Often times, leaders ignore personal visions from those within the organization in the search for a generalized strategic vision that we hope the majority learns to follow. What is the result? People don’t commit — they simply comply.

We cannot think of the vision as a solution to the problem. If that is how we see a vision, then when the problem fades, so will the energy and focus on the vision.

8 Characteristics of Shared Visions

Santa Monica Pier — August, 2017.

Shared visions emerge from personal visions.

As a leader, focus on a “pictured future” that inspires commitment from those within your organization, rather than compliance. If there is a genuine vision, people learn because they want to, not because they have to.

Don’t think of a shared vision as an idea. That’s not what it is. Think of it as a force. A force of “impressive power,” as Senge puts it. It’s impressive and it’s palpable — people begin to see it as if it really does exist.

A vision is truly shared when both parties have a similar picture of the future and are committed to one another having it.

When people truly share a vision, they are connected by that vision. There’s a camaraderie there that didn’t exist before. A bond.

Shared visions provide the focus and energy for learning within the organization.

Adaptive learning can be pressured within the organization, but generative learning occurs only when people are striving to accomplish things that matter deeply to them.

Shared visions can be extrinsic — but they are far better when intrinsic.

For Henry Ford, it wasn’t about more money in defeating Chevy (there really wasn’t Chevy) — for him, it was an internal fulfillment beyond just beating the next competitor. As leaders, sometimes we fall for the myth that inspiring someone to simply beat someone or something else will bring great fulfillment. Greater fulfillment is found on the inside in personally accomplishing a desire from within.

Shared visions change people’s relationship with the company or organization they work for.

It is no longer someone else’s company — for employees, it becomes “our company.”

Shared visions compel courage in such a natural way that people often don’t realize the extent of their courage.

As Senge points out, in the 1960’s the United States had a vision — to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. How courageous is that? That’s crazy if you think about it — it had never been accomplished before and it was completely outside the box. Yet, people did whatever it took to realize that vision.

Shared visions foster risk-taking and experimentation.

People often don’t know how to accomplish great vision. But when they get immersed in it and find fulfillment in it, they will experiment and take risks like never before. People are so committed to the vision that they will go beyond expectations without a guarantee that it will even work.

Shared visions foster long-term commitment.

People don’t focus on the long-term because they have to — they focus on the long-term because they want to.

Bryan Brooks is currently the Dean of the Oaks School of Leadership at The Oaks Fellowship in Dallas, Texas. He is also the creator of SAGU | LEAD — a leadership program for college students at SAGU that provides a correlating leadership experience with students’ 4-year bachelor’s degree in church leadership, as well as, the creator of the new model for the Oaks School of Leadership.

He holds a M. Div. degree from Southwestern A/G University and a MBA degree from Washington State University.

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