Yesterday I took my son to the eye doctor because he had been complaining of having trouble reading things up close. He’s getting reading glasses to wear just for homework and reading and will hopefully get better with time. As I sat in the room with him and watched them test his vision, I had a very interesting experience.

As they asked my son to read a chart up close, he began to mess up and couldn’t focus on the letters. I sat there feeling helpless, uncomfortable, grieving and sincerely wishing he could do better. I left the doctor, dropped him back off at school and couldn’t shake the feeling.

I started thinking about vision as it relates to leadership and what it must be like for people in a church where the leader lacks vision and there’s nothing compelling about their mission. I wonder if they feel helpless, uncomfortable, if they grieve and sincerely wish the leader would make a call and lead them. The Bible says:

Where there is no vision [no redemptive revelation of God], the people perish; – Proverbs 29:18 (Amplified Bible)

I started thinking about that word perish. One of the definitions of perish is “to pass away or disappear” – I wonder if people in churches without vision die a slow death. I wonder how long they stick around feeling helpless, uncomfortable and grieving for their leader, their church and their community.

Yes, there are some people that quickly pick up on the lack of vision and leave the church to find another more vibrant church, but how many people keep coming back week after week secretly hoping things will get better? Hoping and praying that the pastor will get a word from God, lead with passion, conviction and purpose. I wonder how many gifted, capable, passionate lay leaders are sitting untapped in congregations around the country. I wonder.

Greg Atkinson

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