Where there is no vision, the people perish. -Proverbs 29:18
You’ve probably been there. Sitting in a meeting for work, or a volunteer project, or some sort of committee, bracing yourself for the train wreck. Contradictory opinions fly. Some people want to set goals, others want to wade in and start working. Only no one can really articulate what they should be working on because it’s unclear what you’re actually trying to accomplish.
“Ahem,” you clear your throat politely for emphasis, “Could we take a step back for a minute? What is the actual vision for this project/committee/group?” (You use the word “vision” because it sounds more business-like and if you use the word “philosophy” people will panic and think you’re suggesting a team-building exercise involving yoga.)
As the we read in Proverbs, without a vision, we just spin our wheels. Or, as another (non-Biblical) proverb puts it, “if you aim at nothing, you’ll always hit it.”
In Connecting Church & Home, Tim Kimmel notes that some people naturally think strategically (goals, strategy) and others naturally think tactically (details, getting something done), but neither group can be successful without figuring out their underlying philosophy or vision. You can do a lot of work and write a lot of strategic plans and handle tons of logistics, but if you don’t know where you’re headed, you’ll probably go in a lot of different directions and not have much to show for your efforts.
Kimmel applies this truth to parenting, which struck me as particularly apt. It’s so easy to run this way and that, trying new ideas and methods, rewording your statements and slipping pureed vegetables into the brownies and making chore charts (Laminated! No, stickers! Surely velcro will get those beds made!). But do we really take the time to articulate our overarching goals as parents? If we did, might it give our goals and methods some direction and focus, and cut down on the frenzy a little bit?
As Kimmel writes, “Activities, accomplishments, and assumptions can be simply busy work without the context of [grace-based] relationship in a family or church.” We want our kids to know scripture and doctrine and to be obedient and turn out ok. Those are good things, but they aren’t a philosophy for parenting or family ministry.
In my review of Connecting Church & Home, I mentioned how I liked the way Kimmel tied the concept of grace to families and churches, and I think most people would find his explanation of how grace forms a part of our vision while leaving room for different goals and tactics helpful and thought-provoking. It has given me a lot to mull over this week, and I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on it too.