No matter how frequently we cite the word vision in our statements, it has been established that, generally, many people tend to hold a very casual and often unappealing interpretation of the word.
Consequently, the dividing line between visionaries and visionary leaders has become blurred to the extent that one is construed for the other. To preface his definition of Vision, DR Clarke, who was the Keynote Facilitator at a national leadership seminar targeting pastors of branches of the Church of God, quotes from Proverbs 29;18 from the Bible.
The verse reads in part, “And the Lord answered me and said, Write the vision and make it plain upon the tables that he may run that readeth it, and happy is he that keepeth the law.”By the same token, “I dare say, to some degree we are all visionaries. We go out and make large purchases for homes, motor cars, plan our families and other ambitious projects. All these to an extent require some degree of vision,” said Clarke.
The problem, however, was that most people are unable to write down and make their vision plain, “thus it becomes difficult to measure progress and make necessary changes or modifications along the way.” It was for apparently the same reason, according to Clarke, “that God admonished us that where there is no vision people perished”.
In a song, the Gambler, performed by Country Western singer, Kenny Rodgers, is a line that says: “That you got to know when to hold it and when to let go.”
Yet checked against the same background, the style of leadership of most of those entrusted to lead, whether families, organizations, companies or churches is such that they find it hard to make appropriate decisions when they reach the point.
Thus, it would appear that the critical challenge lay in the absence of a holistic system of targets and goals as well as inability by leaderships to keep up to the collective expectation of their followers.
Clarke pointed out in an interview on the sidelines of the seminar that, whilst his immediate focus was on spiritual leaders, the significance of Vision in driving lives of people and organizations applied by equal measure to spiritual as to political and civic society leaders.
Mention was made of the fact that Vision was the most potent weapon for world change.
Paradoxically, it was stated that Vision must be at the core of true leadership, and it must be co-owned by the followers, so that it forms the fuel that leaders run on.
Referring to one renowned author, Bill Hybels, Clarke intimated that Vision was, “not only the fire that ignites the passion of others, but when it is categorically clear it serves as a reliable and dependable call that helps sustained and consistent focus.”
To explain what happens when a society or organization’s leadership or individuals neglect the importance of putting down in plain terms, their cherished vision, he cited from the bible the story of a generation that did not know God.
It was said, according to Clarke, that, “The first generation generates, the second generation motivates. The third generation speculates while the fourth one dissipates.”
As such, for their part church leaders were cautioned against the temptation of being steeped or dwelling in the past to the point of seeking monotonous lines like, “In our time we used to be or to do this or that, and so…”
Because in that way, organizations, including the Church, risked growing old and degenerating as they would not be able to accommodate youthful members and ideas.
In other words, there comes a time when every vision must experience some form of a makeover or as someone puts it, “a shift”. Clarke argues that the hardest shift to make is the thinking shift.
Once mastered this one then “Halleluiah”. “Each generation comes with a subculture with its own language (slang), customs music and common experience,” said Clarke. He added that the most brilliant indicator of visionary leadership in moments such as those was the ability to stop to make strategic shifts at important junctures in their vision strategy. He highlighted that the consequences for failing to comply when required at the yield sign, could be ghastly, as the inevitable would be sure to happen, “There will be total degeneration and decay.”