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Home > Skills > Vision & Values > Roadblocks and Guardrails for Visionaries

I love visionaries, and Nick was a visionary. In fact, Nick's enthusiasm and love for the Lord were contagious; he was a great impetus to the vision of the church. But Nick was coming up with a different idea each week.

One week he walked into my office with an idea how we could reach all the Vietnamese refugees in our city. Two weeks later he was wanting to sponsor a World Vision hunger campaign with our young people. The next week he was ready to take a group to Haiti to help construct a hospital. Nick wanted to do it all, and in fact, many of his programs were effective. But he burned out many people in the process and rolled over anyone who did not agree with him—including me.

The term administration is a confining word for a visionary; it seems to limit the Holy Spirit. Visionaries prefer spontaneity and allowing the Holy Spirit to lead. They say too much administration hinders the Spirit and limits the vision of the church. In short, they consider administration and vision contradictory.

It is refreshing to work with someone who wants to move. But with two or three visionaries like Nick, the church can become spastic—jerking and groping this way and that without any real direction.

How do you manage a visionary? How much freedom do we give the youth group, for instance, to have its own dreams and then act on them? How do we allow other groups in the church to have their own authority for making decisions without creating church-splitting issues?

This tension reminds me of the faculty member who told his colleagues in a leading university, "The state legislature has always granted us complete academic freedom here, and if we don't do what they want, they are going to take it away from us."

Pastors stand in the middle of a tension. We want visionaries to make decisions and carry them out; on the other hand, we want to have some sense of control. Our fears of either too much or too little control often cause us to set up unconscious roadblocks that hinder the work of the Holy Spirit and limit our visionaries.

In order to allow both freedom to experience the gifts of the Spirit through the visions of our people and to establish some guidelines to keep our direction sure, I've discovered two roadblocks that must be eliminated and two guardrails that must be erected.

Roadblock 1: My Way Is Best

Being a former youth pastor has its benefits. I get to speak at occasional youth meetings; people respect my experience and ask for my advice. There is, however, one major drawback: I have to keep reminding myself that the way I did it may not be the best way.

There have been times when our youth sponsors have an idea that, because of my vast experience, I know will fail. I don't want to discourage them when they are so excited, and because I know we learn through failures, I grant them my blessing. Many times, however, much to my surprise, they see fantastic success.

One example is the way young people report back to the church after a camp or mission experience. I ...

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