Considering how crazy 2020 turned out to be, the “20-20 Vision” goal-setting and planning puns that were going on this time last year are almost humorous. In reality, if there is anything 2020 has taught us about biblical vision, it is that it must be developed in faith-filled confidence of God's sovereignty.
In fact, as I have prepared personal and ministry goals for 2021, I've thought much about the role faith plays in this process. I don't want to set unreasonable goals that amount to delusional “happy thoughts”—ideas that make me feel good while writing them, but are not grounded in reality.
Neither do I want to allow the challenges of this past year to leave me cynical toward goal setting at all. Truth be told, not all of the challenges of 2020 have been resolved, and we enter a new year with a need for continued flexibility and creativity in outreach and ministry. But people still need the Lord, and we must remain committed to faith-filled endeavors in the core essentials of reaching our communities and around the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The happy medium between these two extremes—delusional and cynical—isn't to simply plan out what we believe we can accomplish in our strength. It is to develop faith-filled vision for what God can do. Planning what we can do amounts to forming a to-do list; determining how we can strategize our efforts in obedience to the Great Commission is faith.
This faith-filled vision is what I endeavor to cast to our church family each year on Vision Sunday. This is when I share with our church family the new theme for the year as well as opportunities to serve the Lord as a church body in the coming year.
We need biblical vision—in our lives, our churches, and any sphere of influence God has given to us. Proverbs 29:18 warns, “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.”
Biblical vision isn't simply listing what you want to do. That is a list of goals. If our vision is not drawn from God's Word and embraced by faith, it's not a vision at all; it is simply a to-do list. So, how can you tell the difference between a biblical vision and a to-do list?
Biblical vision comes from God's Word; a to-do list comes from personal dreams. Spiritual vision is viewing my life and ministry through the lens of God's Word. It is centered around obeying God's commands and fulfilling the Great Commission.
Biblical vision requires faith; a to-do list simply requires good administration. To be sure, a visionary must implement wise and careful administration for a vision to succeed. Without a strategy of faith, no biblical vision will see the light of day. However, biblical vision always requires faith. It requires dependence upon God—knowing that without God's intervention you are wasting your time.
Biblical vision invents the future; a to-do list predicts the future. We can set goals that will help us be more effective in what we already know we should be doing. Setting wise, measurable goals and following through on them will impact the future. Biblical vision, however, is different in that it doesn't just predict the future; it invents the future. Biblical vision forecasts our faith-filled obedience to God's Word. It stretches more than our resolve; it stretches our faith.
Over the years, as I've planned to cast vision for our church, the Lord has often convicted me that I was planning with little faith. And I've often needed to pray with the disciples, “Lord increase our faith” (Luke 17:5)!
There are those who will tell you that goal setting and vision casting are worthless endeavors. They would have you believe that forward momentum in gospel ministry is unattached to biblical vision or habits of faith. My suggestion? Avoid this negativity. Faith flourishes when your eyes are on Christ and your determination is centered on obeying His Great Commission.
The world still needs the gospel, and Christ has still entrusted it to us. So let's reach forward with faith-filled vision for what God could do through us in 2021.
And remember, the temptation to plan without faith doesn't lessen as you grow older. It actually becomes easier as you get older to simply coast and count on seeing the continuing results of past faith. But I don't want to live from the past. I want to see God use our church in the coming year as never before. I want to claim the blessings of faith!