God rarely works on your timeline. He gives you a vision but almost never fulfills it as quickly as leaders would like. This frustrates most leaders.
Leaders have a vision. Christian leaders — whether in the marketplace or in ministry — have a vision of where God is leading.
A Tale of Two Lakes
I’ve sailed on two different lakes. Lake Lanier in Georgia and Lake Michigan in Chicago. Lake Lanier had very little wind. The group I went with stayed dormant for hours…unless we jumped into the water or turned on the motor.
Lake Michigan had constant wind. All the group needed to do was hoist the sails and adjust to the wind. We stayed in constant motion. It was one of the most enjoyable experiences of my life.
A vision is like a sailboat.
When it’s moving forward, it is one of the most enjoyable experiences of a leader’s life.
But sometimes the boat gets stuck. The wind stops blowing. The vision grows stagnant. This is one of the worst experiences of a leader’s life.
In moments like this leaders often make one of two critical mistakes.
Mistake 1: Abandon the Ship
When you abandon the ship, you change the vision. You find a new vision and forget the original one God gave you. You grow tired of waiting for the vision to take place and go in a different direction.
I once consulted with a leader to develop a 3-year plan and strategy for his organization. When we started, he commented, “Three years? We’ve never stuck with anything that long! If it takes more than 6 months to implement, we find something else to do.”
Unfortunately, this is not unusual in leadership. Leaders don’t often have the patience to fulfill the vision that God has called them to do. Discovering a vision is exciting. Completing a vision is hard work. Leaders can grow tired or bored or disheartened and want to move on to something new.Discovering a vision is exciting. It takes hard work with God to complete the vision. Click To Tweet
But if you abandon the ship you rarely experience the joy of working with God to complete a God-sized vision. Worse yet, your team and organization never experience that joy.
Your people get whiplash as they jerk from one vision to the next — never fulfilling the work that God gave. They will eventually distrust you when you say, “God has given me a vision” because they know that the vision will be abandoned once it takes too long.
Mistake 2: Rely on the Motor
In sailing, there are times when you can’t feel the wind. In order to move the boat, you rely on the motor.
When you rely on the motor to propel your vision you push harder to make the vision happen in the timeline that you think is appropriate. You ramp up the resources and speed up the timeline to accomplish the vision.
Remember when the Israelites demanded a king (1 Sam. 8:1-9)? God made plans for a king earlier in the Bible (Deut. 17:14-20). But the Israelites wanted a king sooner than God intended. God gave them what they wanted, but he interpreted their desires as a rejection of him (1 Sam. 8:7).
The rest of the Old Testament testifies to the devastation caused by the Israelites relying on the motor instead of trusting in God’s timing.
Discovering a vision is exciting. Waiting with God to complete the work in his timeline is difficult.
Relying on the motor usually leads to critical errors. You forget that God is the source of the vision and think of it as your vision. You put pressure on yourself to complete the vision. You resent interruptions and try to power over the waves.
This pressure overflows on the people around you. They feel the weight of accomplishing God’s vision in their own strength.
You will burn out your team and organization if you run the motor too long. You’ll push too hard for something to be accomplished when it’s not ready to be accomplished (Prov. 16:9).
Wait for the Wind
In sailing, you cannot force the boat to move. You have to wait for the wind.
But when the wind blows, you hoist the sails, adjust them to the wind, and hang on for dear life.
If God has called you to a vision, he is the one who is ultimately responsible for making it happen (Phil. 1:6; Psa. 127:1-2).
This doesn’t mean that you don’t work hard. But you work with God to make it happen. He is the wind. You adjust to where he moves. You depend on him and sail with him in his timing.
How to Prevent These Mistakes
When a vision takes too long, leaders tend to make one of these two mistakes. What is your tendency?
Do you tend to abandon ship? Or rely on the motor?
To prevent these mistakes put a team of people around you who:
- believe that the vision is from God;
- understand what the vision will look like when it is accomplished; and
- encourage you to wait for the wind of God even when the vision takes longer than you would like.
Question: Which mistake do you tend to make? Can you think of a specific time that you made this mistake when a vision took longer than you wanted?
Feature photo by Kelly Sikkema