Leadership and Vision

If you don't know the way, you better know someone who does!

This thought occurred to me the other day. Leaders need to have a vision for the organizations they lead. Without vision, the people perish (Proverbs 29:18). Organizations are doomed that have vision-less leaders at the helm. To simply reflect the culture of an organization and do what has always been done is not enough. We live in dynamic and complex times. Principles do not change, but the application of those principles in the context of an ever-changing world demand both creativity and "intentionality" of leaders.

But what if a leader does not have vision? Let's go back to this thought I had the other day: "If you don't know the way, you better know someone who does!" I will acknowledge that there are times a leader is thrust into a leadership role for which she or he has no vision for the organization. That person didn't seek this leadership role, but providential circumstances have them sitting in the captain's chair behind the controls in the cockpit. It happens. What does one do in such instances? When that happens, the leader has to know who to trust!

Because of my faith in God as a Christian, I believe He is the first One that a leader should trust. It goes without saying that a leader should pray before accepting any leadership opportunity. If the Lord directs the course of events so that the leader ends up taking the position, he or she goes into that situation with the confidence that God will reveal the plan to him or her. All of His biddings are enablings.

Joshua is a great example of this. God chose Joshua as the successor to Moses in leading His chosen people from the wilderness into the Promised land of their inheritance. Joshua had some misgivings about this assignment. The Lord reassured him, "...as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee..." (Joshua 1:5).

What a comfort! Joshua knew the story of Moses. Moses didn't know where he was going when he began as the deliverer of the children of Israel. But God was promising Joshua that if Joshua would follow Him as Moses did, He would lead Him to lead the people as He led Moses.

I repeat my initial point: if you don't know where you're going, know Someone who does! God knows the way!

Beyond this spiritual truth, I believe the Christian leader must also prayerfully and practically identify people he can trust for counsel. "Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety" (Proverbs 11:14). The New Living Translation (NLT) says, "Without wise leadership, a nation falls; with many counselors, there is safety."

Rehoboam, the son and successor to his wise father Solomon, lacked vision for the Kingdom. But Rehoboam was doubly damned because he didn't know who to trust. In 1 Kings 12 the assembly of Israel had some questions for Rehoboam that he was not prepared to answer as soon as he took the throne. Rehoboam had no vision for the Kingdom yet. In verse 5 of 1 Kings 12 he wisely asked for time to think over the questions he was being asked. He went to discuss the matter with those who had counseled his father (who was the wisest man who lived. Please note that if the wisest man who ever lived had counselors, any leader who has no counselors is being very foolish). But verse 8 tells us that Rehoboam rejected the advice of the elders and instead asked the opinion of the young men who had grown up with him.

Are you listening to anybody? If so, to whom are you listening?

Rehoboam was listening. His problem is that he was listening to the wrong people. He skipped the sound advice of counselors who had a proven track record of loyalty both to leadership and to the good of the organization itself. Instead, he listened to the advice of people who themselves lacked vision. The guys he had grown up with knew just as little as he did! His father's counselors had proven themselves to have the good of the nation at heart, yet he ignored them.

Rehoboam listened to the wrong counselors and the result was the dividing of the Kingdom and the loss of 10 of the 12 tribes.

Let it be a lesson to leaders: if you don't know where you're going, at the very least, know who does! If you lack vision, seek the Lord, and find some good counselors.


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