Leadership Meanderings: On Vision and Planning

One of the things I've noticed in working with a variety of leaders in a variety of settings, sacred and secular, is that leaders tend to enshrine their personalities into values and principles.  We like to sanctify our own strengths and vilify our weaknesses (which happen to be strengths of others!).  And when we do that, we undermine our work.

There is perhaps no better example than the clash between visionaries and planners.  Planners and administrators tend to discount the dreams and ambitions of big-picture visionary types, calling them irresponsible and out of touch with reality.  Visionaries belittle planners as uptight, overly scrupulous creativity squelchers--an impediment to getting things done.  Both are right and both are wrong.  Left to themselves, neither type of leader would get anything done of value.

Planners understand a basic leadership principle that Jesus himself articulated: counting the cost.  In Luke 14:28-30, Jesus illustrates what is required to be His disciple.  What builder, He reasons, commits to a project without first determining (a) what it will cost and (b) whether/how he can afford it?  Only a fool.  Proverbs 24:27 illustrates the principle of preparedness: "Prepare your work outside; get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that build your house."  Visionaries need planners to help make their dreams a reality.

But what good will planning do without a vision?  You might research and develop and execute a plan beautifully.  But if that plan doesn't serve a worthwhile vision, who cares how good it was?  Visionaries and planners need each other.  And in order to create a truly fruitful partnership, both must respect the strengths of the other and not allow themselves to be frustrated by them.

Are you a visionary or a planner?  Do you see a tendency in yourself to demonize those whose strengths are opposite yours--to make them your enemies instead of your allies?  If so, you're doing yourself--and them--a great disservice.  Consider the apostle Paul's timeless words to the church in 1st century Corinth: 
  • "To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good" (12:7).
  • "For the body does not consist of one member but of many" (v. 14).
  • "But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.  If all were a single member, where would the body be?  As it is, there are many parts, yet one body" (vv. 18-20).
  • "Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it" (v. 27).
Each of us has different gifts in the economy of God.  And that includes leaders!  Don't make the error of the Corinthian church by belittling the gifts of others different from yourself.  Learn to appreciate them.  Understand where their gifts complement yours and vice versa.  Only then will the body of Christ serve the mission of Christ in a manner that honors Christ.

"To Him be the glory in the church" (Eph. 4:21)!

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