Jump Start # 2077
Romans 12:11 “not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.”
A grand quote that Robert Kennedy stated, and later was used by his brother at his funeral, said, “Some men see things as they are, and ask why. I dream of things that never were, and ask why not.” Within this Kennedy quote lies the concept of vision. Throughout history, it was the men and women of vision who forged ahead in unknown lands, made new inventions, and were not stopped by the obstacles before them. We stand upon the shoulders of those who have found ways to conquer diseases, make things safer and make life easier and more efficient. They truly dreamed of things that never were.
One of the great challenges today is developing leaders in the church who have spiritual vision. Many are content to just go with the flow and to continue to do things as they have always been. But what worked in an earlier generation does not always work today. Still water can become stagnate in a short time, and stale churches can die even faster.
Our verse today, found in that section of many admonitions to the Romans, reminds all of us to “not lag behind in diligence.” Don’t be left behind. Don’t drag your feet. Don’t be slow about it. Keeping up with everyone else is not as important as keeping up with the Lord. Be diligent. Get to it. Get serious about things. That’s the thoughts here.
I wonder if the lagging part can be connected to a lack of vision. Going no where in particular. Just taking your time. Not seeing the need of the hour nor the shortness of life that is before us. Could vision change that? Could vision help?
Jesus told the disciples to lift up their eyes and see the fields. They were ready for harvest. They lacked the vision to see those things.
How do we inspire others to have vision? How do we inspire leaders to have vision? Inherent with the concept of leading, is knowing where you are going. The green pastures and the quiet waters of Psalms 23 weren’t found by accident. The shepherd knew where they were. He knew where he was going. Even the dark valleys of the shadow of death was part of the plan. It was a necessary part of the journey to get where he wanted them to be. Vision. Seeing beyond today. Seeing what is needed.
Here are some basic visionary questions:
In five years, in ten years, what will this congregation look like? Who will likely still be here and who will not?
In five years, in ten years, who will be leading this congregation? Who will be preaching here in five years, in ten years?
In five years, ten years, will this congregation outgrow the current building? What then? In five years, ten years, will the facility be in great need of repairs?
In five years, ten years, what will the demographics of the congregation look like? Will the church be mostly senior citizens? What will the finances look like in five years, ten years?
Asking questions, like these, opens the door for visionary thinking. It’s just a start. Ideas shared and borrowed and learned also opens the door for visionary thinking. Asking the question, “Why?” and “Is there a better way?” makes one look not only to how things were done in the past, but whether or not they still work in the future.
What Robert Kennedy’s statement shows is that some are visionary by nature, and some are not. Some are content with the way things are and some are not. Some have ideas and some do not. Some see what could be and others do not see that. Is it wrong if a person isn’t visionary? I don’t think so. I think that’s simply how God wired us. Some are problem solvers and others are not. Some are thinkers and others are doers. So lead and others follow. Is one better than the other? No. Is one necessarily wrong? No.
But there can be conflict when dreamers and people of vision sit in a meeting with those who are content with the way things are. The visionary folks want to try something new. The other crowd doesn’t see the need for that. Change or keep things the way they are. That’s a tough call. Change, just to say you’ve changed, isn’t any good. Change ought to make things better. It ought to help things out. Change must be Biblical or there is no need for any further discussion. If it’s not Biblical, it’s tossed out. However, some things are just a matter of taste, and not necessarily right or wrong. Some things are just a fresher way of doing what has been done.
Here are some thoughts about ideas.
First, think them out and think them through before you float them to everyone. Shooting from the hip may work in the Old West, but it’s not a good way to introduce ideas. Consider reactions. Look at it from several standpoints. Consider the costs. Look at it from the different age groups within the congregation. Think. Think. Think. Then, when you are done thinking about it, start praying. Pray about it.
Second, present your idea to the shepherds of the church. Let them hear you, question you and give them time to think it out. Remember, you’ve been sitting on this for a long time, so give them some time. Remember they are thinking of the whole group. They may see things that you forgot about. They may know things that you don’t know.
Third, don’t pressure, threaten or put the shepherds in a corner with your idea. Don’t claim that you’ll leave if you don’t get your idea. Don’t stir things up by talking to a whole bunch of people before you’ve talked to them first. Don’t put them in a tough situation. You’ll come out looking bad and not only may your idea fall flat, but so might you because of the way you presented this.
Fourth, don’t pitch a fit if they decide otherwise. They are responsible for the wellbeing of the congregation. What you suggest may just not work. They know the people. Don’t be like the teen who runs off and slams doors. I heard of a guy who got so mad in a meeting at church, that he broke the door slamming it so hard. Not good. Not like Jesus. Trust your shepherds. They are good men of wisdom, experience and love for the congregation.
Fifth, if your idea involves time and people, volunteer yourself. Be part of the project. Get involved.
When traveling, bring back ideas from other places. Share them with the shepherds. This shows to them that you are thinking and connected to the work.
Ideas—vision– team work. Help one another. Not lagging…fervent…serving—key words from our verse and key thoughts for our hearts.