What if I told you that I had a simple 3 step process, and if you followed it you would achieve every goal you set out to achieve. Sounds too good to be true right? Well, that’s because it is. There are tons of voices out there competing to sale you their next breakthrough method in growth strategy. I’m sure you know the ones I’m talking about, you’ve probably seen them on Facebook or Instagram. They are very high quality video production and they give you just enough information to bite. Then, after you’ve entered your information to get this great secret, they hit you with the price. Don’t get me wrong, I think that information and wisdom has a value to it and sometimes it’s worth the price tag. But these get rich quick schemes, or in the church world, “get more members quick” don’t work.
In my time working with young church leaders, I’ve found a common theme among them. Most of them lack a vision for their life in Christ and/or their ministry for Christ. In my previous blog post “5 Signs You’re At Risk For Burnout”, I state that lack of vision is a key cause for burning out. Why is it that this is true? The late Dallas Williard gave us a great tool for assessing vision in our lives and ministries and it’s known as the VIM method. What exactly does VIM stand for?
So many young leaders start with means and try to work their way to the vision. What do I mean by that? So many young leaders are thrown into a position and they just simply do what they think works. They start with the means and hope that a vision will come out of that. There is no direction when we do that. We find ourselves becoming busy with “ministry work” and we get frustrated when it doesn’t produce fruit or bring us fulfillment. It’s very draining when you simply work without having any idea, intentions or vision for what you want to accomplish. I’ve heard each category described as this.
Vision: “What do I want?”
Intention: “How much does it cost?”
Means: “Am I willing to pay the price?”
This tool is something we can use to asses all kinds of things! It doesn’t just stop with our own personal walk with Christ, it expands into every aspect of our life with Christ! I have a VIM for myself, my wife, my kids and my ministry. Let’s take a closer look at each individual component of this tool and why they are equally important for success. I am reminded of the scripture in Luke 13 where Jesus tells us about the cost of being a disciple. He says this,“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.”
This example from scripture highlights each of the individual components of this tool we call VIM. I would like to dive into each of these areas and explore them a bit deeper as we go on.
Vision is something that is necessary if we wish to accomplish any task or goal that we set out to do. If we don’t have a vision of what we want, desire or feel called to do by God, how can we ever formulate a plan to get there. Many people are gifted in the area of vision. Vision comes at a 30,000 foot view. From that high up, it’s easy to get the full picture. We can see everything below us and have a general idea of what things look like. We can see where we are starting from and where we are going.
Vision helps orient us in the direction that we want to go. We must be clear with our vision, not for our sake, but for the sake of those we wish to join us. We, speaking of the church, often look at discipleship from a 30,000 foot view. We know it’s what we’ve been commissioned to do, however we often neglect or are unsure of what it looks like when we get closer to it. Ultimately it gets cast to the side and forgotten about. When it comes to our vision for ourselves, for our family, our church or for our ministry, we cannot stop with a vision alone. We have to take further steps to see that our vision becomes a reality. That we can finish what we set out to build.
What does this look like for you? What is it that you want? Take some time and write it out. Break out the pen and paper and physically write it down. There is something more intimate about this process when we take the effort to physically write it out. Vision is an exercise, it must be practiced. For all intents and purposes I would like to give you an example to follow through each step of this exercise.
Example: I want to be a high impact leader who values and cherishes relationships over programs. I want to have an abiding relationship with Christ that overflows into my: marriage, children, family and church.
So now that we have a vision and know where we are going, what will it take to get there? Referring to the scripture above, this component is when we “estimate the cost of building”. What does this look like? Intentions can often be confused as goals. Goals are things that are set to be achieved in the future, whereas intentions require a daily focus and are meant to propel you forward. This step is where we start putting our money where our mouth is. It’s not just enough to want something, we have to do something about. This is where we sit down and start seeing how much building materials cost. We do some research on building a foundation and we find out what it takes to accomplish the vision of building a tower. All of our towers are different. There is not a one size fits all approach to this. Do your homework! This is where you map out a plan.
If you’re 30 or older you remember the Road Atlas. It was a book with every state and their major road systems in it. If you were wanting to travel across your state, or make a road trip somewhere, you used the Atlas. I can remember getting my atlas out, grabbing a highlighter and tracing out my route to Colorado when I moved there. It took time and effort to do this sure, but I knew what it would take to get me there. I knew which roads I had to turn on, and which roads not to take. This is is a time when attention to detail is key.
Example: I intend on studying as many leadership development methods as I can. I intend on putting more effort into people and relationships than the programs themselves. I intend on spending more time in the word and prayer not only by myself but with my wife, children, extended family and church family.
Last, but certainly not least, comes the means. We now have a vision for what we want to build and we’ve evaluated the cost of it. All that remains is to set a plan in motion to achieve it. The means are where the rubber meets the road. In our world, we are naturally wired to find means to an end. Whether that be financial, emotional, spiritual or else. We are constantly looking for how we can achieve something. So many people in the workforce are doing this everyday. They wake up, go to work and clock in, do their job for the day, eat lunch, more work, clock out and go home. Gallup once said that nearly 70% of employees are actively disengaged from their work. This leaves them feeling unfulfilled and with a lack of meaning for their job. It’s generally because we often put means before vision and intention.
When we have a vision and set some intentions to achieve it, the means seem to jump out at you. You will find a way to achieve the vision you have been given.
Example: I mean to enroll in leadership courses whether through university or the marketplace. I mean to spend at least 2 hours a week with each leader in the program I lead. I mean to put their needs before the work I ask of them. I mean to spend the first hour of every day reading the bible and in prayer. I mean to fast every Tuesday. I mean to spend every evening with my family cell phone free. I mean to be in the word with them every week. I mean to call and check on my extended family every week and different members of my church family each week.
This exercises is not a one and done. This is something that is dynamic and not static. It needs to be re-evaluated on a regular basis. Things can change, your vision can shift and you need to be prepared to asses that.
I hope that you have found this information useful and that you will start applying it to every aspect of your life and ministry. If you want more resources like this, be sure to subscribe and get them delivered straight to your mailbox every week!