Well before I wrote The Kingdom Focused Church book, and became senior pastor of Judson Baptist Church in Nashville, and even until this day, I have yet to meet a pastor, parent, or a leader who does not have dreams. Dreams for churches, families, organizations are common. In fact dreams reflect the optimism of our lives, callings, and tasks. We are eager to see things improve, change, and strengthen so we dream about the day our church is… or our children… or our company reaches its goals of….
Dreams are fueled by a combination of imagination, desire, optimism, and a sense of what is fulfilling. They are the stuff that motivates our hard work and often when realized are compensation enough to satisfy our souls. Dreams have been the key ingredient for men and women to attempt impossible things bringing those imagined thoughts into a living reality. Dreams keep people going through difficult seasons and give others determination not to fail.
Are Dreams Enough?
Despite the power and effects of our dreams, however, they are not enough. Most everyone has dreams and most of those dreams go unrealized because substance is lacking for our thoughts to be turned into reality. It is a leader’s role to take big ideas and turn them into reality. This is the hard work of leadership but is crucial if anything is going to be accomplished. Leaders remove words like “ought”, “should” and “might” from their discussions replacing them with “will”, “must”, and “can”. Dreams that are accomplished require a clear vision, a definite process, clear decision-making, timely measurements, and constant evaluation.
A vision differs from a dream in that it is a clear articulation of an achievable future. When a dream is shared often the dreamer has difficulty explaining or convincing another person of its merit and nature. When a vision is shared a leader is able to clearly articulate what the “big idea” is and how it is to be transformed into reality. If you cannot explain your vision in a few sentences and a short time then you probably don’t have one.
Are Visions Enough?
Visions produce the hard stuff of transformation. Transformation of an idea includes an accurate assessment of the current environment or state of the organization followed by the strategic intentions that are to be implemented to realize the vision. Also, an accurate understanding of the current organization, an evaluation of the people currently employed, the culture of the organization and finally the work that has to be done to be successful is essential. Then the vision must be tested in the light of perceived forces that will both help and prevent the organization to be successful.
This is a common process for those who operate their lives and organizations by clear visions. In reality, however, most leaders never do the hard work required to see dreams realized. I think one reason is because leaders are generally not trained in the processes of visioning and planning. In addition, they did not know where to go for the resources required to be successful.
There Is Help – And it is Simple!
I am aware of many helpful resources but frankly most of them are out of reach in costs, too complex, or hard to use. One resource that I can recommend that is available, easy to use, and is supported by competent professionals is Seen and Sustained, of Brandbuilder Publications and The Virginia Baptist State Convention, Inc. (VBSC). Seen and Sustained is a workbook co – authored by Dr. Leonard N. Smith, VBSC President and Senior Minister of the Mount Zion Baptist Church in Arlington, VA and Akia Garnett, VBSC Communication Officer and President and CEO of Brandbuilder. It is an effective tool based on the concept of continuous improvement rather than crisis management which allows a leader to work with his/her leaders to move from vision to reality. Churches and non-profits can expect excellent results when using this product.
Scripture says that “without a vision the people perish.” The reason people perish and are scattered is that their dreams die never fulfilled. If you are a leader move your dreams into the reality of a vision which motivates you to the actions necessary to be successful.