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As a church planter, I was constantly seeking to learn from those who had gone ahead of me. But as I listened to these seasoned planters I often found myself filled with “Vision Envy.” Do you know what I mean? You listen to another visionary, and suddenly your vision seems too small, too insignificant or too bland. That’s when we’re tempted to “borrow” part of their vision, or add elements to our vision that God never intended us to include. While it’s a great practice to listen to and learn from other visionaries, we must be aware of the traps of Vision Envy.

Trap #1 – You miss the unique vision God has called you to accomplish in your community. In my friend Will Mancini’s book Church Unique, he provides an exercise you can use with your team to identify the unique calling of your church. He calls this your Kingdom Concept. Your Kingdom Concept consists of Your Local Predicament, Collective Potential, and Apostolic Esprit. These three things working together help you answer the question: What will our church do better than 10,000 others? When you can answer that you are well on your way to discovering God’s unique vision for your church.

Trap #2 – You’re overcome with a sense of inferiority. My friend, Chip Judd says, “Comparison is the root of all inferiority.” Comparing your vision with the vision of another planter will not lead to a healthy perspective. But if you learn transferable principles from their vision its a win.

I was meeting with a visionary leader recently and was blown away by the size of his vision. Immediately “vision envy” crept into my soul, but once I recognized it, I was able to celebrate his vision and learn from his visioning ability. Listening to him lead me to ask myself a new set of questions, challenged me to think deeper about the measures of my vision and refine the way I share my vision.

Trap #3- You stop looking to God as the source of vision. Rather than spending time in solitude seeking the heart of God, we surf the Internet in an attempt to scheme up a bigger and better vision. There is no greater vision than the one God speaks directly into your heart, no matter how big or how small.

It’s a valuable practice to listen to the vision of other church planters. Just make sure you don’t fall to the traps of Vision Envy. There’s nothing more powerful than being given a vision straight from the heart of God. Moses spent hours in the Tent of Meeting face to face with God. This discipline gave him the fortitude to endure the times when the vision of the Promise Land seemed insurmountable. Nehemiah, wept, prayed and fasted as God formulated a vision for the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem. His time with God generated passion that others saw and longed to follow. Paul had a personal encounter with Christ that not only gave him a vision but put a fire in his soul to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth.

Vision envy will produce a pseudo vision you can chase. But it will not give you the conviction and passion that comes from a personal vision encounter with God.

Getting an opportunity to cast a God-given vision is a weighty privilege. Having spent time with God, you’ve heard the heart of God and are called to lead toward a preferred future for your church, organization or community.  Before you even speak your first word your audience’s mind is like a canvas. The words you speak can paint a picture of a new reality, move people to action, enthuse commitment and even drive them to make personal sacrifice for the cause.  Continue Reading…

I was walking along the beach in Carlsbad the other day praying about God’s Vision for LAUNCH.  As I asked God to open the eyes of my mind to see His vision I sensed Him saying, “Ask the right questions and I will show you the answers.”

This makes sense; think about it.  In Exodus 3 when God gave His vision for delivering the Hebrew people from Egypt Moses immediately began to ask questions.  And the more he asked the more clarity God gave him. This reminds me that vision is not a one-time communication from God, but an on-going conversation with God. Here is the list of questions that flooded into my mind that morning on the beach.  I spent a couple of hours the next day on the plane thinking these through and gained amazing clarity as I prayed, processed and captured the answers.  I hope they help you refine your vision as well.

  • What Scriptures are central to our mission and how do they inform or inspire our vision?
  • If we were able to maximize our mission to the fullest potential what would the outcome look like?
  • What opportunities do we have to innovate new ideas, products or processes?
  • What is the unique niche God has given us in our industry? What do we need to do to steward that well?
  • In what way does the giftedness of the key individuals in our organization inform us about God’s future for us?
  • What outcomes do we want to see over the next 12 months?  Three years?  Five years?
  • In what ways will our “product” change over the next three years? Are there new products we will produce over the next three years?
  • What are the biggest opportunities in front of us that we need to seize?
  • What are the “hidden” assets that are within our reach that we are not capitalizing on?
  • Who do I need to meet with in the next 90 days?  In what way can they add value to my thinking or add value to our vision?
  • How will our industry be changing over the next 5 years and what adjustments do we need to be thinking about now?
  • What are the top 3 most important things we can do in the next 90 days that will impact our bottom line over the next 12 months?
  • What do we want to be said about our organization 20 years from now?  What footprint do we want to leave on our industry?

What questions would you add?