Where there is no vision statement the people perish.
That is, of course, a modern interpretation of Proverbs 29:18. What was said initially was, “Where there is no vision the people perish.” Our modern, business-oriented perspective confused us. For decades, the idea has been that the church needs better models of vision casting and implementation.
So, we crafted better vision and mission statements. It seemed like there was no end to what we were willing to learn from the corporate world. We hired staff members to get to work on fulfilling what we said we wanted to do.
Unfortunately, we didn’t account for a couple of things.
First, the corporate model is always adapting itself. It’s too focused on its bottom line to get stuck in logistical perpetuity. Ask anyone who has remained in any industry for an extended period of time. Things change fast in the business world.
You could rightly pick out unwise elements of the bent toward such haste to change. What could be worse than changing too quickly? What about being too slow to change?
I should rephrase what I said earlier. The church didn’t take on the corporate model of leadership and mission. Instead, the church took on a corporate model. The corporate model has changed several times throughout the decades.
Most of our churches have accustomed themselves to a particular way we learned many moons ago.
It’s strange to me the way we latched on to that model, that mode of thinking. In my running tally, there’s no competition. Robert and his rules are called upon far more than that of the Holy Spirit. Astronomically far.
That leads me to the second point.
We misread that proverb. Whoever wrote Proverbs 29:18 did not have in mind crafty taglines. The vision that Proverbs cites is that which God speaks.
If we aren’t comfortable hearing from God, how will we know where God wants to lead us? If we aren’t learning to hear from God, where do you think we’ll salvage a vision from?
King Cyrus decreed that the people of God in exile could return to Jerusalem. God had commanded Cyrus to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem (Ezra 1). This was a big deal; exile was over. Worship in the Temple would return.
To be sure, there were royal edicts to observe as the temple was rebuilt. But in the process, there’s a noteworthy line from Ezra 6. Verse 14 says, “So the elders of the Jews built and prospered, through the prophesying of the prophet Haggai and Zechariah son of Iddo.”
The prophets could have been giving building measurements. God was pretty particular when it came to the dimensions of the tabernacle, after all. I see the prophets’ role another way. They weren’t offering advancements in building techniques.
They were offering vision.
That’s what our churches have always needed. As we continue to weather the pandemic, we may need an extra dose of that vision.
If we don’t seek God’s vision, what are our ministries going to be? What will be the point of our work? The proverb says that when we do not have vision from God we perish.
But just think of what can happen if we do seek God’s vision!