Are you a Visionary?

Eyeglasses Proverbs 29_18Looking to the start of 2013 I find myself reflecting on a passage that you hear occasionally at this time of year.  Here is that often misquoted or misused scripture – “Where there is no vision, the people perish”.  It is found in the Old Testament in Proverbs 29:18.  It is used many times from the pulpit to exhort us to catch the vision that the pastor has seen and to press us onward to the destination seen in the vision.

But I submit to you that there is a BIG difference between being a visionary and being a leader.

A visionary is someone who “sees” where we need to go.  However, they may not have the skills necessary to actually lead us there.  Visionaries are a little like Indian scouts.  They may know how to read the signs and pick up clues that no one else picks up, but they have no clue how to get to the destination.

Providing vision is a skill that is often touted as being one of the key skills for pastors today to possess.  A casual review of the current literature aimed at pastors indicates that this is a highly prized, if not “coveted” skill.  But the ability to see where to go without the ability to get us there is a little bit like having a GPS or an old fashioned road map – but no car.  Without a vehicle, the best the GPS can do is to tell us where we are.  It does nothing to propel us toward our destination.

What about you?  Are you able to see where to go?  Or are you able to actually lead us to our destination?  Being a visionary is not a bad thing.  On the contrary, it is a very valuable skill.  But, if I had to choose between the two, I would choose being a leader over being a visionary.

Perhaps even now, someone out there is already starting an online blogging community called “” for those folks who would make the other choice.

5 Replies to “Are you a Visionary?”

  1. I really enjoy reading about visionaries, but would not rely on this type of person to lead a group of people. It’s great to have a visionary on your leadership team, because I believe God does give some individuals dreams or visions of the future that should be shared with the body. Once a vision is shared with a leadership team, then a process of discernment can be initiated to see what might become of it. It will take people with leadership abilities to act upon it, and this should be promoted within churches. Pastors that truly want to see the vision become reality will prayerfully seek out individuals within his congregation to help him lead the way. There’s a lot to say about this, so I’ll conclude by saying the Bible is pretty clear on how a group of Elders should lead the church…in some churches this means board members working along side of the pastors.

  2. Hmm, interesting thoughts Kevin. I agree that a visionary can lack leadership ability. However, can a true leader lack Vision? I guess I am also thinking about this across different visionary scales. We have “big picture”, but we also have those who are fantastic with well defined scopes that are part of the larger picture. They still need to have a vision of how to lead/accomplish those smaller scale scopes.

  3. Experience is my guide here. And I have experienced those with exemplary visionary abilities but zero leadership ability. But I think I hear you indicate that the obverse is more likely. If so, I agree that is more likely to find leaders with at least some visionary abilities.

    And as I said above. If I had to choose between the two skill sets, I would choose leadership over vision.

  4. I think we are kinda saying the same thing Kevin, I think I just wouldn’t follow a “leader” for long who didn’t have any vision. It tends to show in the results.

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