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  • Jonno White

Vision, Leadership and Parenting

Updated: Nov 17, 2022


Vision. Purpose. Why. Whatever you call it, authors like Andy Stanley and Simon Sinek have written about the importance of vision (we'll just call it that to keep it simple) in leadership. What is vision? I can't remember where I heard it, but the best way to explain the power of vision is in a quick story.

There were two labourers moving heavy bricks from one place to another. Someone came up to the first man and asked, "What are you doing?"

He replied, "I'm moving heavy bricks from here to there". Then, the second man was asked the same question. But his reply was different. He said, "I'm building a castle." Vision is the difference between moving heavy bricks and building a castle.

So yes, vision is important and powerful. But how, HOW, do you create, articulate and communicate vision as a leader? If it's that important, then it shouldn't be an abstract concept, right? It should be a central part of everything we do as leaders, every day.

Recently I was listening to a sermon by Bill Johnson, Senior Pastor of Bethel Church in Redding, California. In his sermon, he talked about the role of parents. He explained how parents need to instil identity, purpose and destiny in their children. Identity is who they are and where they've come from. Purpose is why they're here on the earth. And destiny is where they're going.

I loved the concept immediately for parenting, but I also think it applies to leaders. Leaders, like parents, are called to instil identity, purpose and destiny in the organisations and people they lead. And I think this three point framework is specifically helpful for understanding how to create, articulate and communicate vision as a leader. Let's walk through it together.

Identity

For parents, instilling identity in your children is about telling them who they are and where they've come from. You explain the gospel to them—that they were created by God. That in His grace and mercy, Jesus died for them so they can be saved. Their identity isn't found in their behaviour or performance, they've been recreated in Christ.

Identity is your founding story. It started with being created by God. And then continues with being recreated in Christ. For organisations, identity is also about your founding story. Where did you come from as an organisation? Who started your church, school, ministry or business? Why did they start it? Hidden in the story of the founder/s of your organisation is a key to vision—your identity.

Our Senior Pastor at Gateway Baptist Church, Jason Elsmore, does this really well. We're celebrating our 90th birthday as a church this year (woo!) and we're having an awesome event to celebrate and give a significant gift to see God do more through Gateway in our community, nation and world. What story has Jason used to advertise the event? Gateway's founding story.

90 years ago, a man from Greenslopes Baptist Church in Brisbane realised there were kids who couldn't get to church. So, he decided to start a Sunday School in Holland Park so these kids wouldn't miss out on church. He rode his horse down the streets of Brisbane and found a small building. Starting with nine kids, it quickly grew to 60 kids in a few weeks.

Can you see it? In Gateway's founding story lies our identity. Are you surprised to know some of the key passions of our church include raising the next generation of leaders, seeing whole families redeemed and planting campuses? Can you see that DNA in our founding story?! That's why I believe an organisation's identity—its founding story—is one of the best ways to articulate an organisation's vision.

So, if you don't know your organisation's founding story, find out what it is. Particularly the heart of the story. Not just what happened, but why it happened. Then, find a way to communicate your founding story to your leadership team, employees, volunteers, congregation and your community. And watch as people connect with the identity of your organisation and start seeing things through

the "build a castle" lens rather than the "move heavy bricks" lens.

Purpose