“Where there is no vision, the people perish.”
The great American Transcendentalist writer Henry David Thoreau once said that most men “lead lives of quiet desperation.” How true this was when Thoreau lived in the 19th Century and how true it is today as well. Just look on the faces of people as you see them going about their daily rounds and it is obvious that most people are not leading lives of happiness and fulfillment. In a world of plenty, many people are living in spiritual bankruptcy.
What can cause such a phenomenon? What issues and events go together to create such a sense of desperation and emptiness in so many people who, at least externally, seem to have all the material trappings that make a person happy? The answers to these questions are not simple. Instead, the causes of such a state of affairs is largely multi-faceted. Most contemporary research in sociology and social psychology, however, points to the fact that aimless, unfulfilled people with average or above-average intelligence lack one important ingredient for a successful life: a personal vision.
Never – never- underestimate the importance of having a personal vision.
Having a personal vision is a sacred enterprise and the key to having a fulfilling vision is to see life through “spiritual eyes.” On a practical level, viewing life with spiritual eyes means seeing the big picture. In terms of your personal vision, it means gauging the effectiveness of your actions through the matrix of your personal vision. In essence, you have to frequently ask yourself, “Is this particular course of action in harmony with achieving my vision in life? Will this help me become the optimal version of myself?”
Having a personal vision is important for other reasons. A vision consists of our perception of our particular mission in life and more precisely, defines the specific framework within which we will carry out that mission. Vision gives us a sense of direction, acting like a compass when we lack certainty about our direction in life. In this sense, vision gives us a basis upon which we can make positive and effective choices among various options that might be available to us. A personal vision gives us hope and courage, especially when we are feeling overwhelmed or when we are confronted with difficulties or setbacks.
As more people learn about the significance of developing a personal vision for their lives, an increasing amount of material on the subject becomes available. As with most things we encounter in life, this has a good side and a dark side. The positive benefit is that with more material on developing personal vision available, more people will be able to discover books, articles, and other materials that will help them in achieving their goal. On the down side, with the plethora of available materials, many people are becoming confused about vision. This has happened in large part because different authors use different terms to express their ideas. What one author calls vision, another calls mission and yet another calls purpose.
In order to minimize confusion, let me offer definitions of these terms as they appear in this article. When I talk about mission, I am speaking of a person’s overall personal purpose in life. Vision is the specific form or structure that mission or purpose will take and goals become the sought-after objectives in implementing that vision. This process moves from the macro to the micro – from the big picture to the small picture. For example, let’s suppose your mission is to establish a profitable business. You open a Christian Books and Gifts Store; that’s your vision. You do a market analysis and come to the conclusion that it is reasonable to initially expect to make a small profit, say $15,000, during your first year. That becomes your goal. In this process, your mission or purpose gives birth to your vision and you goals are your specific objectives after implementing you vision.
At LifeBrook we describe a universal purpose that God gives to everyone who comes into this world. This is a “universal purpose,” not a “personal purpose.” We define that universal purpose like this:
To become the optimal version of yourself for the glory of God and the sake of others.
All we do here at LifeBrook is designed to assist people in succeeding in realizing this purpose in life. It is obvious that in order to accomplish this, we must discover, define, and implement a personal vision.
How do I discover my vision? There is no one way to do this, but one thing is true: Start by discovering your personal purpose. Your vision should then flow out of that purpose. Discovery of our purpose (mission) is intimately tied up with our personal vision. One thing I have discovered over the years about uncovering purpose and vision is this: You have to be creative and think outside the box. At first, don’t discount any idea just because it seems impossible. Often God gives us impossible things to do so that we can discover that we need him to do anything of lasting worth.
Art Sepulveda, Senior Pastor of the Word of Life Christian Center in Honolulu has written an excellent book entitled, Focus: What’s in Your Vision. In this book Pastor Sepulveda gives the following guidelines for envisioning your future:
Expand your horizons by stretching your imagination
Nurture new ideas
Vote for positive changes with a welcoming attitude
Imagine the impossible
Stay ahead of tomorrow
Invent the future
Notice unlimited opportunity
The pastor’s suggestions are first-rate and I would encourage anyone interested in kick-starting the process of discovering their person vision to implement his ideas. I think you will discover that developing vision is not nearly as difficult as you have imagined it to be. The reason for this is that you are not so much trying to invent something that doesn’t exist; instead, you are actually uncovering the outline of something placed in your heart by God before you took your first breath.
Think about it.
© L.D. Turner 2008/All Rights Reserved