A Note from Chris Adams: Today’s guest writer, Sheila West, has led business and ministry for many years. In this article, she shares about the importance of not only passion but also action to reach the vision God gives you.
When I started in women’s ministry over three decades ago, I had a lot of passion, but didn’t have much of a plan. Passion alone is not a formula for effective ministry. We all should be passionate about God’s call in our lives, but God, Himself, works through a plan. Through the years, I’ve run the gamut of planning strategies. Five-year planning worked for a while, but with the increasing rate of change happening in the culture it quickly became obsolete before it was even completed. In local women’s ministry there is a need for spontaneous structured planning that is seen as action-vision. Action-Vision is dynamic, not static. The vision is always keeping the purposeful end in mind. As circumstances change, the actions refocus accordingly, but are always focused toward the vision of what needs to be accomplished.
When I use the word vision, I’m referring to a picture of desired results. The power of vision gives substance to the need to equip women to turn God’s plan into reality. Action-vision is an image of desired results that inspires to action. It enables us to lead above the level of mediocrity.
In Chuck Swindoll’s book, Living Above Mediocrity, he says: “Vision is the ability to see above and beyond the level of the majority. Vision is perception—reading the presence and power of God into one’s circumstances. I sometimes think of vision as looking at life (or ministry) through the lens of God’s eyes, seeing situations as He sees them. Too often we see things not as they are, but as we are.”
Let’s take a look at how this remarkable concept operates:
1. Leaders anticipate accomplishment through a vision of what God is doing and how joining Him impacts the Kingdom. It requires a confidence that they really believe that they can be in tune with God through prayer, seeking wise counsel, and being aware of the Holy Spirit’s prompting.
2. Leaders fine-tune their positive thinking and forward-looking skills. Because of our passion to turn God’s plan into reality, leaders should be on the lookout for relevant opportunities. When confronted with the changing circumstances of the church overall—the demographics of women, the budget—a leader’s vision of desired results provides a reference point for making adjustments in order to stay on track and prepare for future steps. It also keeps leaders from making rash choices that move ministry in the wrong direction because of crisis management.
3. Leaders are willing to accept responsibility for taking action. It is essential for leaders to be realistic about what it’s going to take to make things happen, and to develop M.I.N.I. steps to achieve the desired results. These are small steps that keep ministry “Moving In Natural Increments” so that adjustments can be made quickly in what to study, what event is relevant, what new opportunities should be pursued, etc. So often the plan can become so intricately detailed that it takes a major overhaul to adjust.
Through years of leading so often I have tried to do things the way Peter did on the Mount of Transfiguration. You know, tell Jesus what needs to be done because I get my eyes on all that is going on around me. In the end, I’ve come to hear Him say to all my rambling thoughts, “Listen to my Son!” (Mark 9:7). When I do, He has done amazingly beyond anything I could imagine, He has raised the level of ministry through our women to a higher level of effectiveness and joy.
Sheila has been involved in women’s ministry for over 25 years, serving as Director of Women’s Ministry for over 20 years in the local church. She is presently on staff at Heritage Community Church, Fruitland Park, Florida as Director of Spiritual Growth and Ministry Mobilization and Women’s Ministry Coordinator. She is the founder of Real Living Ministries, a speaking, teaching, and leadership development ministry to women. Sheila is also a contributing author to Transformed Lives: Taking Women’s Ministry to the Next Level. She and her husband, John, are the parents of two and proud grandparents of seven.