Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Leader Who Had No Vision

If you don’t have a clear vision, no strategy will save you. – Michael Hyatt

Good leaders create a vision, passionately articulate the vision, and relentlessly drive the vision to completion. – Jack Welch

I believe that there’s no such thing as a leader who doesn’t have a vision. – John Maxwell

Recently, my employer went through the mid-year review process. They also combined it with career discussions, so I had the opportunity to sit down and talk about the direction of my career with my boss. There are a couple things it made me realize. First, I’ve had very little say over the direction my career has gone. I’ve moved from position to position within the company because they needed someone willing to do the work, not because I felt like a change in position would be good for my career. The second thing I noticed is that not only has my career not had any direction, I don’t know where I want it to go. That’s probably not the best thing to tell your boss, but it is true. If I have had any goal, it has been to help those around me get the task at hand done. The only time I went looking for a new position was when the job I was doing got so inhospitable that I couldn’t take it anymore.

You get the idea that my career has been boat without a rudder. And if you read the quotes above, you get the idea that my problem is that I don’t have a vision. I especially like the one by John Maxwell, because I’m about to tell you about a man whose life was very much like my career has been.

This man was born in a time when the king was killing children of his race. When he was very young, his mother put him in a basket and let him float down the river, hoping that someone of the more favored race would take him in. Who should find him, but the king’s daughter. She took him in and raised him as her own. He had thoughts of protecting his people, but no clear vision. One day, he saw an Egyptian hitting a Jew and he killed the Egyptian. Later, when he saw two Jews fighting, they feared he would kill them too. So, he fled to the wilderness and spent forty years doing nothing but herding sheep. As I said, no vision. His vision seemed to get on track one day, when he saw a burning bush and God told him to lead the Jews out of Egypt. He traded sheep for people and spent another forty years wandering around the desert. He had no vision. He never picked a spot and said, “We’re going over there.” No, he waited for the cloud to move. When the cloud moved, everyone picked up their tents and followed. And yet, he was one of Israel’s greatest leaders.

You see, there are two different kinds of vision. There is the kind of vision like what the three guys above are talking about and there is the biblical vision. The biblical vision is the kind of vision we see in the burning bush experience and the kind of vision we see in Proverbs 29:18, “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” One kind of vision the guys above are talking about is having a goal your team can shoot for. The biblical kind of vision is about having faith and following God’s direction, even if you don’t know where you will end up.

Sometimes, I feel like I’m in the desert herding sheep. I’m doing what needs to be done. Sure, there are some things I would like to accomplish, but I’m still waiting for my burning bush. I’m waiting for God to appear to me in a vision. I’m waiting for God to give me direction. The conclusion I’ve come to is that that’s okay.

The reason it’s okay is because God’s been good to me the whole time I’ve been waiting. Who knows, maybe my burning bush will appear and I will have the opportunity to lead some people by following a cloud. And if, when that time is over, I can look over into the land where they are going and leave them in the hands of a man like Joshua, that is not a bad thing.