“A leader has the vision and conviction that a dream can be achieved. He inspires the power and energy to get it done.”
— Ralph Lauren
Some of you may look at where you are in your life and ponder the question: How did I get here? The truth is, we all end up somewhere in life, but very few of us arrive to our destinations by way of intention. Clear vision is the deciding factor between arriving at your place of destination intentionally and stumbling along into it. True leaders understand the value of having clear vision!
The Israelites of Judah, the Southern Kingdom, were exiled to Babylon 150 years before Nehemiah’s time. After seventy years of Babylonian captivity and in accordance with the prophets, the Persians under King Cyrus, overthrew the Babylonians to assume power. By way of Divine Providence the heart of King Cyrus was moved to allow the Hebrews to return to Judah and rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. Nehemiah’s family along with many other Jews elected to stay in Persia as they had fared well under Persian rule. Nehemiah had been identified as an intelligent worker in the court of the king and rose through the ranks to become his cupbearer ensuring that wine served to King Artaxerxes was safe and serving as his counselor and confidant.
Though he was in Persia, Nehemiah’s family instilled a great love for Judah in him so when he received the news of the difficulty of the returning exiles in Jerusalem and that the walls of the city had been burned with fire it pierced his soul. In the presence of a cacophony of emotions Nehemiah begins a course whose trajectory is guided by a specific and clear vision to rebuild the walls of the city of Jerusalem. As he navigates the terrain of this effort, Nehemiah teaches us some valuable lessons in leadership about the importance of clear vision.
One of the first lessons identified here is that even the most noble of visions still require that the Good Hand of the Lord rest upon it. After receiving the news of the state of Jerusalem, Nehemiah prayed for the favor of God to aid him in his endeavor (Nehemiah 1:4-11). Oftentimes we come up with excellent models and strategies to implement ideas but we have failed in the fundamental area of seeking the Good Hand of the Lord to grace us. I don’t believe this to be a deliberate oversight but rather the product of a mind and heart so filled with passion and strategies that we forget to ask the Lord to breathe upon it. Nehemiah was passionate about wanting to rebuild the wall and quite possibly had a few strategies brewing in his mind but he recognized the critical need for the favor of God to bless the project. It would be the Good Hand of the Lord that was upon Nehemiah that would facilitate the requisite favor needed to fund the vision to rebuild the walls of the city and incline the heart of the king in a favorable posture toward the rebuilding effort. No matter how favorably positioned you may be or how skilled those involved in your vision may be, the Good Hand of the Lord is imperative for its successful execution. The clearest part of your vision should always be the recognition of the need for God’s favor upon it.
We Win Through Clear Vision
Secondly, in order to operate in clear vision you must assess what you want to accomplish and if your vision is properly aligned with what you endeavor to achieve. Nehemiah did not just rush into Jerusalem and start working on rebuilding the walls. He strategically went into Jerusalem to ascertain what was going on for himself. He observed the state of the city and who the key players involved were against the backdrop of his vision. This assessment allowed him to direct the trajectory of his rebuilding effort in a clear direction unimpeded by any ambiguity relative to the mission. Assessment is a critical step in walking in clear vision as it affords you the opportunity to measure it against tangibly defined objectives. It gives you the opportunity to determine if your proposed solution is a viable one or if there are extraneous factors that you failed to consider that must also be addressed. Assessment allows you to mitigate any points of obscurity relative to the assignment and move forward on a clear path to success.
Thirdly, in order for clear vision to prevail it must be articulated in terms that are communicable to everyone assigned to it. It is divine intent that vision be communicated in terms that those assigned to carry it are able to properly understand it (Habakkuk 2:2). As leaders we have to stand guard against the assumption that the people alongside us understand the terms of the vision simply because we do. Nehemiah went through specific measures to ensure that he understood the problems from the vantage point of the people who were called to assist him with his vision. This allowed him to communicate the need to rebuild the city walls in terms that were corporately understood which not only facilitated cooperation but also clarity of purpose and vision. As leaders we must ensure that our team understands the nature of the vision and its various components from their line of sight.
Finally, establish clear and measurable deliverables to ensure that the vision is accurately implemented. Nothing stalemates the successful execution of a vision like unclear measuring points and deliverables. In order for vision to be executed progress must be reported at defined stages of the project to ensure that missteps are mitigated and success is properly leveraged. The rebuilders of the wall were divided according to various assignments that would allow the work to be measured and evaluated in smaller units and yield achievable deliverables.
In the context of success it is not enough to simply have vision. Vision must be clear and precise. The clear vision is one that recognizes the need for the Good Hand of the Lord to be upon it, properly assesses the accuracy of its scope, is properly understood by those called to implement it, and have measureable deliverables that confirm its proper implementation. The successful leader endeavors to move beyond having just vision to operating in clear vision!
Dr. Craig L. Oliver, Sr.
General Overseer – Pastors Division