Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonours you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” So Abram went, as the LORD had told him, ……..
By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.
Abraham – or Abram as we was named then, trusted God. He received God’s promise of becoming a great nation in order to bless all the families of the earth. In keeping with this trust he obediently exercised faith and set out on a great journey to the place where he was to receive the fulfilment of God’s promise. However, he did not know where that would be, so as the writer to the Hebrews’ declares “He went out not knowing where he was going”. Well geographically at least.
Why did Abraham have such trust and faith in God? Well, he knew God.
Jewish tradition http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/112063/jewish/Abrahams-Early-Life.htm ) has it that Terah, Abraham’s father, was prime minister for Nimrod, King of Babylon, and his high priest. He also had a business manufacturing idols. It was Nimrod who invented and established pagan religion and idol worship and sought to diminish God with the Tower of Babel. When he was born, Abraham was sent into hiding with his mother because Nimrod wanted to kill him. Now Abraham knew both Noah and Shem because he was sent to live with them for a time. Abraham was 58 years old when Noah died, and 110 years old when Shem died. Noah knew Methuselah who knew Adam. Abraham, being taught by Noah and Shem grew to know God. At age 50 Abraham returned to Babylon determined to teach the people about the true God. Nimrod was none too happy about this and sought to kill Abraham who left Ur with some 300 followers.
Much is made of the fact that that Abraham did not know where he was going, which as we already observed was true geographically. However, from a spiritual perspective he did know what he was seeking. It was the fulfilment of God’s promise; “the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.” Hebrews 11:10.
With his promise, God had envisioned Abraham so that he shared God’s vision of the future. This vision kept Abraham motivated, albeit with some well documented lapses. But even the most significant of these – Ishmael – came about because Sarah and Abraham, whose faith had weakened, sought to help out.
So God’s promise, which defined the destination was not seen, only envisaged, at the time God made that promise.
Why do we need a vision?
As we have seen from the story of Abraham a vision defines the destination of journey. In Abraham’s case this journey had two elements, one had a place as its destination the other had a goal.
This module is about leading people on a journey. Not a physical journey across country but a journey to achieve some goal, a goal shared by all who choose to embark upon the journey.
The destination of the journey is defined by what is called the “vision”. It’s something that all on the journey want to bring about and it captures their imagination and heart. It becomes the thing that they want to achieve and it implies a process of change.
This begs a question; “Why do we need to embark on a journey in the first place?” “Why do we need that different future?”
Well there seem to be at least three good reasons:
We can be challenged by changing circumstances and we have little if any say in the matter. We are affected by external change as a situation develops around us. We are left having to reactively respond and, whether we like it or not, we are forced to embark on the journey.
We see opportunities emerge and proactively decide that we should take advantage of them. So, we seize the opportunity, make our plans and engage in the journey of change that brings the plans to fruition
God calls us to be part of his plan and purpose, just like Abraham, and we must respond in faith and embrace the journey into which he leads us. Perhaps, like Abraham, we must in turn lead others on this journey.
Later in this lesson we will look at the issues surrounding the process of change that results from seeking to achieve the vision.
What is a Vision?
There are many definitions of the word “vision” but in our context we are going to be quite down to earth. Amongst the possible definitions the Oxford English Dictionary has two that aptly described the kinds of vision that we will be considering:
“The ability to think about or plan the future with imagination or wisdom.”
“A mental image of what the future will or could be like.”
Thus a vision is statement of a desired future condition, an outcome that requires some effort to bring about. By inference this is different to the outcome we expect if things remain the same and effort is not expended. By implication if the vision is realised then there is benefit to be enjoyed.
What we are not talking about here are mystical visions.
Normally we tend to think of a vision as being something grand:
Richard Branson, Business magnate, entrepreneur and founder of the Virgin Group, has a vision of “making space accessible to all”, led by space tourism but also of offering the lowest cost commercial satellite launch facilities. This vision led to the creation of VirginGalactic – the operating company – and The Spaceship Company which develops and builds the launch vehicles. A big, world changing vision which initiated the journey to bring it to realisation.
However, as we see from the definitions, a vision is simply about a different future than would otherwise have been. Visions are not necessarily “Grand Plans” which change the whole world. For instance: The other day my wife wanted my son to have cake on his birthday. That was as much a vision according to the definition. It led to a far simpler and less expensive journey than Branson’s VirginGalactic adventure, but none the less a journey that resulted in the baking of a Victoria Sponge cake. It was about an outcome that required effort to realise.
In summary a vision is a view of a possible and desirable future. That future may be some grand scale thing but equally if you have ever envisaged some simple thing that isn’t now but could be, such as baking a cake, decorating a room, growing vegetables, then you have had a vision. The goal is then to bring that vision about and that is the journey.
A vision is the starting point of the journey, it’s a description of the destination. Conveying that vision to others, so that they want to embark on that journey and reach the destination is the process of envisioning. Having envisioned people to join the journey the leader’s job is then to guide them to the destination.
The journey to realise a vision is inherently about change. Its goal is change and in the real world those on the journey will encounter change. So, a key part of the leader’s role is to help those whom they lead to achieve their full potential in an environment that is implicitly about change.