After talking with these guys, and “doing life” around them I can tell you a few things about “being mean about the vision”:
- It has nothing to do with being a jerk and everything to do with being firm.
- It has nothing to do with being mean-spirited and everything to do with being uncompromising about the vision that God has called you to.
Some time ago in conversation with some other church planters, and after hearing the stories of way too many pastors and planters I am persuaded that many problems in the church are a reflection of weak leaders who will give away the vision to keep peace.
What is needed in the church are leaders who have a vision from God and the strength and wisdom to see it fulfilled.
Two biblical examples of this are:
- Paul – Read Galatians chapter one for an example of Paul being “mean about the vision.”
- Nehemiah – Read Nehemiah chapter six for an example of Nehemiah being “mean about the vision.”
As leaders, we cannot compromise the vision that God has planted in our hearts. We must lead with fortitude, grace, wisdom, and an uncompromising clarity about what God has called us to do. Along the way we will certainly make adjustments as we listen to wise counsel and adjust our methods for maximum effectiveness, but we must NEVER compromise the vision.
How this works out practically:
- You must be clear about the vision that God has given you. This is the result of prayer, conversation, reflection, and experience.
- You must be willing to say goodbye to people, even friends, who want to go another direction. While this certainly does not mean you become enemies, it does mean that the nature of your relationship will change.
- You must be willing to lose resources (e.g. people, money, etc.). When people determine that you are not going to change course they will leave. When you are certain about the vision and clear and uncompromising regarding your intent to follow through on it, people will leave and “take their toys.”
- As you continue to maintain a clear, unwavering position on this God-given vision you will begin to see the fruit of your labor.
A few tips:
- Be clear and honest up front! Don’t woo people in with promises you can’t keep. Be very clear about the direction/vision of your church.
- Be kind as you explain to people that you are not going to change. If necessary help them find a local church that will be better suited to their desires (Craig Groeschel had a great idea here).
- Keep evaluating your ministry efforts to make sure that you are not getting off track from the original God-given vision.
- Stay prayerfully focused, and keep close to a handful of trusted mentors as you fulfill the calling that God has placed on your life.
That’s what “being mean about the vision” is all about.