"For Those Who Are Passionate About Reaching The Younger Generation"

Youth Ministry Topics Personal Life of the Youth Worker

Managing Yourself (Part 2)

Mark Tittley

3. DEVELOPING PERSONAL VISION

Duffy Robbins says,

"Vision is the absolute essential for someone who wants to stay fresh and enthusiastic about youth ministry over the long haul. It is the chief prevention for burn-out. I suspect that, most of the time, what we hear prescribed as 'burn-out' - when people run out of steam - is more likely 'blur-out' - when people are without a vision in ministry and simply don't have anything to get steamed up about!" (Youth Ministry That Works, page 27).

A. Defining Vision

Vision has been defined as "a positive picture of a preferable future"; "a realistic, credible, attractive future for an organization"; "the result of dreams in action" and "the launching pad for the future." George Barna defines vision as "a clear mental picture of a preferable future imparted by God to His chosen servants based upon an accurate understanding of God, self and circumstances" (The Power of Vision, page 28). Each aspect of this definition deserves further attention:

(1) Mental Picture - Vision is a mental picture of the way things could or should be in the future. It involves a visual reality, a picture of conditions that do currently exist, that is internalized and personal. It is not somebody else's view of the future, but one that is unique to the individual.

(2) Preferable Future - Vision involves change - stretching reality to extend beyond what presently exists. To create a better situation in which to minister leaders cannot simply hope that the future will be better, but must take control over their environment and with God's empowerment and direction create a better future. Vision focuses on thinking ahead rather than on dwelling upon, or seeking to replicate, the past. So the way to success in ministry is to focus on God and to be fully committed to His vision for ministry.

(3) God Imparted - Vision for ministry is a reflection of what God wants to accomplish through people in building His kingdom. While God allows leaders latitude and creativity to articulate, disseminate and implement the vision, they receive their vision for ministry from God.

(4) Chosen Servants - Leadership is crucial within the church, and God has gifted certain individuals to serve as leaders. It is to these people that He entrusts the precious gift of vision. Only a leader can gather the resources necessary to bring life to the vision. God chooses these leaders carefully and provides each of them with a vision tailored to their circumstances.

In the definition, vision for ministry depends on three sources of insight:

(a) Understanding God - the more accurately leaders know and understand God's character and purposes, the more accurately they will know and understand His will for their lives.

(b) Understanding Self - leaders must know their abilities, gifts, limitations and desires to accurately discover God's perspective on their ministry. Vision is not an exercise in promoting self, personal dreams or needs, but an integration of personal abilities and limitations with God's plan to accomplish what must be done.

(c) Understanding Circumstances - God's vision for ministry is sensitive to the environment in which ministry takes place. Leaders need a firm grasp of existing and potential needs, conditions, competition, opportunities and barriers to discern God's will for ministry.

B. Understanding Vision

(1) Synonyms of Vision - One writer distinguishes between mission and vision as follows: a mission statement is a broad, general statement that includes a definition of life objectives; a vision statement is a specific, detailed, customized, distinctive and unique statement of specific direction and activities to pursue. However, it is best to consider the words: mission, purpose and vision as synonyms, and then talk about the creation of specific goals that will help to accomplish the mission/purpose/vision.

(2) Examples of Vision - The Bible contains examples of people who had a clearly defined vision: (a) Adam and Eve - to be fruitful, multiply and have dominion over the earth. (b) Moses - to get the Hebrews out of Egypt, teach them the law of God and guide them to Canaan. (c) Ezra - to study, obey and teach: "for Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the LORD, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel" (Ezra 7:10). (d) John the Baptist - a voice calling in the desert: "Make straight the way for the Lord" (John 1:23). (e) Jesus - "the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost" (Luke 19:10). (f) Disciples - to preach and heal: "He sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick" (Luke 9:2). (g) Paul - to develop people: "We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ" (Colossians 1:28). Paul was in the people-development business! (h) Christians - to make disciples: "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19).

(3) Benefits of Vision ? Discovering personal vision allows leaders to be guided by principles and beliefs; it allows them to participate in something greater than themselves; it gives them hope for the future; it attracts and inspires others; and it makes things happen.

C. Developing Vision

(1) Develop a Mission Statement

Stephen Covey's second habit of highly effective people is to 'begin with the end in mind'. He says that the most effective way to do this is to develop a personal mission statement. It focuses on what we want to be (character) and do (contributions) (The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, page 106). Here is a process for developing a mission statement:

(a) Pray - Developing a mission statement is a supernatural process, so leaders should ask God to reveal to them His purpose for their life and ministry. This could be done during a retreat.

(b) Study the Scriptures - Leaders should search the Scriptures for examples of people who had a sense of mission. (See above for examples.)

(c) Reflect on the Past with an Eye on the Future - Leaders should reflect on past priorities and discover what they want to be in the future. They should then summarize their thoughts into short statements of purpose. Victor Frankl says that people detect rather than invent their mission in life.

(d) Evaluate God's Guidance Objectively - Leaders should check their understanding of God's will for their lives with friends or mentors who will give an objective evaluation of their thinking.

(e) Brainstorm Words and Ideas - Leaders should let thoughts flow and then check for common words or phrases. Two tools are presented to guide with this phase of creating a mission statement:

(i) An Exercise by Stephen Covey to Discover Life Purpose (The Seven Habits, page 96):

Picture yourself going to the funeral of a loved one. As you walk inside the building you notice the flowers, the soft organ music. You see the faces of friends and family you pass along the way. You feel the shared sorrow of losing, the joy of having known, that radiates from the hearts of the people there. As you walk down to the front of the room and look inside the casket, you suddenly come face to face with yourself. This is your funeral, three years from today. All these people have come to honour you, to express feelings of love and appreciation for your life.

As you take a seat and wait for the service to begin, you look at the program in your hand. There are four speakers. The first is from your family. The second is one of your friends. The third is from your work. And the fourth is from your church.

Now think deeply. What would you like each of these speakers to say about you and your life? What kind of husband, wife, father, or mother would you like their words to reflect? What kind of son or daughter or cousin? What kind of friend? What kind of working associate? What character would you like them to have seen in you? What contributions or achievements would you want them to remember? Look carefully at the people around you. What difference would you like to have made in their lives? Record your impressions.

(ii) A Set of Questions by George Barna to Get to Know Self (The Power of Vision, page 81):

Questions about Emotions: What turns you on in life? What turns you off emotionally? During what situations do you feel most alive or exuberant? Which Bible figures capture your imagination? Why? What makes life worth living? Who are the three most important people in your life? Who are the three people you most respect? Why?

Questions about Abilities: What are your spiritual gifts? What goals have you set and reached during the past five years? What goals have you set and failed to achieve during that period? What hindered you? What goals are you afraid to set because you feel incapable of reaching them? In what ways did God make you different from others? What unique talents do you possess?

Questions about Intellect and Perspectives: How would you describe a 'successful' youth group? What would it take for your group to a success? How would you describe a 'successful' youth pastor? What would it take for you to be a success? How would you define a godly Christian leader? How well do you fit that description? What differentiates a Christian leader from a non-Christian leader?

Questions about Heart: What makes you cry? Why? If you could accomplish only one task in life, what would it be? If your friends remembered only one thing about you after you died, what would you want it to be? Which passages of the Bible speak most loudly and consistently to you? How deep is your relationship with God right now? What has the growth curve of your relationship with Him being over the past year? What activities do you get totally absorbed in? Which are you unlikely to grow out of as you mature? What are the five values of human character to which you feel you must at all times, at all cost, be true? What values are you committed to perfect in your life?

Questions about Mentors and Models: Who are five spiritual leaders you have known personally whom you would most like to imitate? Why? Who have been the five most influential spiritual leaders in your life other than Jesus? Why? Other than spiritual mentors, who has influenced your life the most? How did they influence you? How do you differ from other youth pastors that you know? What are the characteristics of an ideal youth pastor? Which do or don't you possess?

Questions about Ministry: Are you currently ministering on the basis of vision? If so, whose vision is it? How did you acquire it? What is your toughest duty or responsibility as youth pastor? Which ministry activities make you depressed, ambivalent or turn you off? What is your vision for your personal ministry, apart from what you do as a youth pastor? Which groups of people do you feel naturally drawn to in ministry? What ministry experiences have provided you with the greatest fulfillment or disappointments? What is the role of your family in light of your ministry obligations?

(f) Begin Writing - Complete the following sentence: "My mission is to...", or "I exist to ...". The main purpose in putting the mission down on paper is to focus and finish thinking. The statement should be written in plain language (vivid, active, compelling and appealing). It may take weeks or even months before a leader feels comfortable with their mission statement, before they feel that it is a compete and concise expression of their deepest values and purposes. Even then they will need to review it regularly and make minor changes as they gain new insights or as circumstances change. The second part of the mission statement involves completing the sentence: "In order to fulfil this mission..." or "This mission will only be achieved by...". This part of the mission statement mentions a few keys to the fulfillment of the mission.

(g) Test the Mission - Ask: Is it consistent with scripture? Does it glorify God? Does it fit my talents and abilities? Does it fit the needs of those who depend on me? Do I have peace of mind about it?

(h) Believe and Live the Mission - Leaders should remind themselves that the visions is God's desire for them; pray daily for God to bless the vision and their efforts to fulfil it; use it as a decision-making filter to help them determine which opportunities to pursue and which to reject; and use it as a moral and ethical compass to examine the broad range of behaviours they could pursue in the course of their daily activities.

(2) Identify Roles

The second step in creating a mission statement is to relate the mission to roles. The leader should list all their life roles, ie. husband/wife, father/mother, brother/sister, neighbor, scholar, Christian, teacher. They can put the various roles into a number of categories, such as: individual, family member, work, church and community. After writing their mission statement they should write: "The following roles take priority in achieving my mission..." and list the roles they have identified.

(3) Create Goals

The leader should then write two or three important results under each role. An effective goal focuses on results rather than activities; it gives important information on how to reach a destination and how to know when one has arrived; and it translates itself into daily activities so leaders can be proactive (Stephen Covey's first habit of highly effective people is "be proactive"). Goals can also be created that relate to different dimension of life: physical, relational, intellectual, vocational, financial, recreational and spiritual.

An Example Personal Mission Statement:

My life's mission is ... to a God-reflector who makes disciple-makers.

My mission will only be achieved by ... cultivating spiritual disciplines, reflecting godly character, developing Christ followers and growing disciplemakers.

The following roles take priority in achieving my mission ... husband, father, disciple, lecturer, leader and student.

The following goals reflect the results I will seek in each role ...

* As a husband and Father I will make home and family a priority, spend time with family, involve family in ministry, support my wife in her roles and tasks, watch how I communicate with her, cultivating romance in our relationship, show my children that I love them and they are precious to me.

* As a disciple I will practice spiritual disciplines, develop accountability relationships, cultivate a disciplined devotional life and practice the presence of God.

* As a lecturer I will continually seek to implement what I have learnt about education and training, stay in touch with trends in education, develop intimacy with students, implement new models of teaching and continually update and revise material.

* As a student I will seek to continually have the attitude of a learner, always be open to new truths and methodologies, and read as widely as possible.

An Example Ministry Vision Statement:

My ministry vision is to empower youth workers to implement church-based disciplemaking ministry among youth in Africa.

The following five key result areas will help to fulfil the vision: (1) growing personally; (2) developing curriculum; (3) contacting leaders; (4) facilitating training; and (5) coordinating coaching.

4. GAINING SELF UNDERSTANDING

Managing self includes coming to understand how we are wired. Youth pastors should seek to understand various aspects of their personality and behavior. This includes aspects such as personality type; temperament style; conflict handling style; love languages; learning styles; etc. There are different tools available to assess various aspects of our lives. The results of these tests could be integrated into a personal profile. Part of the process of maturity is to gain ever-increasing insights into the reasons behind the way we behave.

A. Developing A Personal Profile

I recently drew up a personal profile that included the following items: (1) General Characteristics ? this came from the executive summary provided by Walk Through The Bible on completion of the DISC profile; (2) Personality Type ? I have three different analysis in this section: Myers-Briggs; Tim Lahaye; and the DISC profile; (3) Leadership Style ? the DISC profile also indicates your natural style of leadership; (4) Team Style ? also taken from the DISC profile; (5) Conflict Handling Style; (6) Learning Style ? from the Honey and Mumford Learning Styles Inventory; and (7) Spiritual Gifts ? from a Houts questionnaire. This document is most valuable to share with a senior pastor that you are working with, or other members of a leadership team. Many of these indicators should be used in a team context and the results shared with each other.

B. Developing Spiritual Passion

Here is a tool to help you discover your spiritual passion:

(1) What really stirs you? Imagine we meet together for the first time. We talk about a few things in casual conversation and then you get really excited as you start to talk about a topic that really grips you. It is the one thing that always stirs you. What is the topic?

(2) What do you daydream about the most?

(3) What have been the greatest achievements in your life? List 5 achievements.

(4) What kind of things do you do that make you lose track of time? When you are operating on things that you are passionate about, you become unaware of time.

(5) In what area are you making, or do you want to make, a difference? People who fulfil their passion make a purposeful difference around then. They have an inner confidence that they are where God wants them to be - in a place where God is using them to make a difference.

(6) What energizes you? Your passion is something that energizes you!

(7) Does your passion pass the following two tests: (a) Does it glorify God? (b) Does it edify others?

Once you have completed this exercise you should look for key words and phrases that appear throughout.

Complete the sentence: My Passion is?

Author

Mark Tittley is lecturer in youth ministry at BTC Southern Africa http://www.btc.co.za/youth/index.htm

For a full profile of Mark, see http://www.youth.co.za/model/mark.htm

To see other fine articles professor Tittley has written, go to his website at http://www.youth.co.za/model/index.htm

Permissions to Reprint

Direct any comments and requests for permission to use this paper to
Mark Tittley at mark@btc.co.za