Is Your Vision Stuck on One Strategy?

By John Pearson

It’s highly likely, during these COVID-19 days, that your ministry’s mission and vision are being tested. Here are two book recommendations with insights on vision, mission, and strategy.

Is your vision statement or your mission statement stuck on just one strategy? Has COVID-19 decimated that strategy? In his 2020 book, The Vision Driven Leader: 10 Questions to Focus Your Efforts, Energize Your Team, and Scale Your Business, Michael Hyatt writes. “A practical vision is specific enough to suggest strategy, but not so specific it commits you to one particular strategy.” Are you stuck on a sacred cow-type strategy?

Hyatt asks 10 questions about vision—and his book (read my review) dramatically changed my thinking about the importance of vision. I was a mission statement zealot. Vision was important, yes, but it’s the mission that gets you from Point A to Point B—or so I thought. The vision is focused on “what, not how,” says Hyatt.

How would your board and CEO answer Hyatt’s 10 questions?
1. Are You a Leader or a Manager?
2. What Difference Does Vision Make?
3. What Do You Want?
4. Is It Clear?
5. Does It Inspire?
6. Is It Practical?
7. Can You Sell It?
8. How Should You Face Resistance?
9. Is It Too Late?
10. Are You Ready?

The author lists four characteristics of a vision that inspires:
1) The vision focuses on what isn’t, not what is.
2) The vision is exponential, not incremental.
3) The vision is risky, not stupid.
4) The vision is focused on what, not how.

In April, when COVID-19 sent us dashing to our bunkers, I posted a Pop Quiz here, “Top-5 Ways to Bless Your Ministry.” The second suggestion was to “Help Our CEO Discern ‘The One Thing.’” I suggested you call or email your CEO with this insight and offer to have a conversation about his or her “ONE Thing:”

"What's the ONE Thing you can do this week

such that by doing it

everything else would be easier or unnecessary?"

Perhaps, for the board, your ONE Thing, now in August, is to read Hyatt’s important book—and revisit your vision. And while you’re delegating your reading, let me recommend that at least one person on your board also reads The Longview: Lasting Strategies for Rising Leaders, by Roger Parrott. (Read my review here.)

With in-the-trenches insights as president of Belhaven College and broad experience with evangelicals, Parrott’s chapter, “Planning Will Drain the Life from Your Ministry,” is an insightful counter-balance to much of the vision/mission rhetoric. His prophetic book in 2009 speaks into 2020 when he notes that both the optimistic and the pessimistic view of the future (which is unknowable) can create havoc. Of the latter, he writes, “…or you raise fears instead of funds by basing your plans on less rosy assumptions that reflect the uncertainties of tomorrow.”

Parrott’s final chapter is another must-read, “Catching the Wind of God.” He begins, “I am convinced one of the core problems of evangelical leaders is that too often we’ve stopped trying to catch the wind of God in our sails because we’ve become fairly effective at creating our own independent power to get God’s work done.”

BOARD DISCUSSION: So…who will read and report on these two books at our next Zoom board meeting?

MORE RESOURCES: Click here to read David Schmidt’s guest blog on Lesson 37, “Don’t Stretch Credulity With BHAGs and Stretch Goals. The actual achievement of audacious goals is very uncommon.” This is one of 40 color commentaries from the book, Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom. Schmidt writes, “Always—we must test motives and drivers when setting goals. Pride and fear can easily disguise themselves as bold leadership.” Click here to read the chapter online.



This article was originally posted on the “Governance of Christ-Centered Organizations” blog, hosted by ECFA.
John Pearson, a board governance consultant and author, was ECFA’s governance blogger from 2011 to 2020.
© 2021, ECFA and John Pearson. All rights reserved.

This text is provided with the understanding that ECFA is not rendering legal, accounting, or other professional advice or service. Professional advice on specific issues should be sought from an accountant, lawyer, or other professional.