The Gift (And Curse) of Vision

The first time someone called me a visionary, I laughed out loud.


I looked around, convinced she must be talking about someone else.

It was the day of my first event as the women’s ministry leader at my church. I called it “pull up a chair,” and I recruited every willing and able-bodied man to drag all the furniture in the church into the gymnasium. We made end tables out of logs and lit soft, twinkling lights everywhere.

There were several moments during the process when someone looked at me with an expression of apprehension or confusion. “You want us to haul all the furniture to where?” Yet on the day of the event everything from the food to the message to the atmosphere looked just like it had in my mind for months prior. It was a team effort, but someone had to create the blueprint. That someone, I suppose, was me.

As a leader, you are a visionary, too. Maybe you’re a reluctant visionary, or maybe casting vision comes naturally to you. In either case, vision is a gift, with the potential for a few pitfalls.

God Still Speaks

We see God giving vision to His people throughout the Bible. In the Old Testament, the prophets and patriarchs had frequent visions.

  • Abraham had a vision of the Lord delivering His covenant (Gen. 15:1).
  • Jacob had a vision of a ladder ascended and descended by angels (Gen. 28:10–17).
  • Joseph’s visions caused family division (Gen. 37:1–11).
  • Young Samuel had a vision of God’s judgment (1 Sam. 3).

Visions continued in the New Testament and after the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

  • An angel appeared to Zechariah in a vision to announce the coming birth of John the Baptist (Luke 1:5–23).
  • Ananias received instructions to minister to Saul in a vision (Acts 9:10–19).
  • Peter received an important vision for the church (Acts 10:10–16).
  • Paul heard marching orders in a vision (Acts 16:6–10).
  • John recorded his vision in the book of Revelation.

God does not change (Mal. 3:6). He still gives vision to His people.

These biblical accounts remind us of something we likely already know from personal experience: Casting vision is often clunky. These are the kinds of stories that don’t fit nicely into a short Sunday school lesson. God-given vision rarely makes sense from a human perspective. It doesn’t stay in the tidy boxes of spreadsheets and mission statements. Most often, God gives vision to one person and then tasks that person to cast vision to many. Vision rarely catches like wildfire. (At least not at first.) It’s more like a tiny spark that gains power slowly and only with constant care.

Pause and consider with me: Where has the Lord assigned you as the visionary?

  • Is it in your home? Do you have a picture in your mind of how you want to serve the Lord as a family?
  • Is it in your church? Do you feel called to cast vision for women’s ministry to the greater Body? Do you have a specific hope for how the ministry assigned to you will impact women’s lives?
  • Is it in your community? Do you long to see your friends and neighbors transformed by the gospel message? Do you have a game plan for how to make that happen?

If God has given you a picture of how to impact others, you are a visionary. Don’t look around, wondering who I could be talking to. Embrace vision as a gift! God still speaks to His people. He still shapes His Church, and He is mercifully using you in those efforts. What a privilege! With that in mind, here are three biblical truths to remember.

Three Truths About Vision

1. Keep. Beating. The. Drum.

Perhaps you are weary of beating the drum God has given you. Maybe . . .

You’re tired of reminding women of the value of joining a Bible study.
You’re worn out from recruiting volunteers to serve at every event.
You’re hurt that there are still people within your church who just “don’t get it” when it comes to women’s ministry.

Or . . .

You seem to stand alone in your vision for a Christian marriage.
Your children haven’t gotten on board with the idea of reading the Bible together.

Maybe . . .

Despite your efforts to minister to your neighbors, the doors to their hearts and home remain bolted shut.
Despite your prayers, darkness seems to be winning in your community.

And you’re tempted to stop casting vision.

Lean in. Listen closely.

Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law (Prov. 29:18).

We need vision. Without it we will run headlong toward all manner of things that are not good for us. The gravitational pull of every ministry, family, and community is to abandon the things of God and to chase after our own pursuits.

Whether you’ve cast the vision for something God-sized once or a zillion times, it still matters. The Church needs visionaries. Your family needs visionaries. Your community needs visionaries.

It’s not easy to be the person casting vision. Visionary is not a job title that can be delegated. It puts a target on your back in more ways than one. In this way, carrying the vision can feel like a curse. And yet Jesus is worthy.

Keep. Beating. The. Drum.

2. We need God-given vision, not human wisdom.

Christians don’t have the market cornered on vision. Behind every powerful company, every political upheaval, every cultural change, every new invention, you’ll find someone with vision.

Yet as women in ministry, our mission is to obsessively seek and communicate God’s vision, not our own agenda.

Listen to the warning given to Jeremiah:

Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD” (Jer. 23:16, emphasis mine).

How can you be sure your vision aligns with God’s vision? Here are several questions to ask:

  • Does this plan absolutely align with the plumb line of Scripture?
  • Is it consistent with the character of God?
  • Is your heart motivation to see God glorified or to see yourself elevated?
  • Are you willing to surrender or adapt your vision as the Spirit prompts you to do so?

3. Visionaries must abide.

It is impossible to extract the visionary from the work required. That means you must cast vision, usually repeatedly, and then roll up your sleeves and get to work. The grind of vision casting can only be endured if we cling to Christ.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

When did Moses hear God speak from the burning bush? When he was alone.
When did the Lord call Samuel? When he was resting alone, out of earshot of his mentor.
What did Jesus do in the days preceding the launch of His ministry? He spent forty days alone.

This is a pattern worth paying attention to (and one we like to remind you of frequently here on the Leader Connection).

Get away from the crowd. Bow out of the occasional meeting. Block out a prayer weekend on your annual calendar.

Abide in Christ. Cling to Him desperately. Ask Him often if your vision matches His vision. Lay down the drumsticks and listen. Then pick them up and beat the drum for your God-given vision once again, resting in the confidence that the Lord is using you to inspire and encourage the Church.


Be inspired!

As you consider your God-given vision, here are some resources to inspire you.

About the Author

Erin Davis

Erin Davis is married to her high school sweetheart, Jason, and together they parent four energetic boys on their small farm in the midwest. She is the author of more than a dozen books and Bible studies, the content manager for Revive Our Hearts, and a host of the Grounded videocast. You can hear her teach on The Deep Well with Erin Davis podcast.