Vision takes hold in the obscure. Vision and uncertainty are inseparably linked. In light of that fact, let me give you three quick things that we can do right now about vision.
First of all, we have got to be willing to diesel down vision vandals. Every time you have a vision, you are going to have a vision vandal. A vision vandal is a dream-killer.
Joshua and Caleb had this incredible vision. What happened? The vision vandals began to come after them, attack them, and diss them. You have the same stuff in your life, and so do I. Whenever God gives you a vision, there is always going to be a vandal there. King David had a vandal as a young shepherd boy. Yes, he did. It was his oldest brother, Eliab.
Let’s check David out in 1 Samuel, 17:28, “When Eliab, David’s oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger at him and asked, ‘Why have you come down here and with whom did you leave those few sheep in the desert?’”
Does that sound like an older brother, “those few sheep? You pipsqueak. I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is. You came down only to watch the battle. You just want to see some blood and guts, man. Go back home.”
John 10:10, Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy.”
That’s what vision vandals do. They come to steal your vision, kill your vision and destroy your vision. The Bible says that when Eliab trash talked David and tried to vandalize his vision, David simply turned and began to talk to someone else. That’s a good word. Because here is where we mess up. Many of us, when someone challenges us, we go, “Okay, Eliab, man, put them up. Let’s go. Let’s get it on, man.”
That’s stupid. You are playing into the evil one’s hands.
“Ed, I have got to chase down my Eliab. I can change him. I can tweak him. I’ll just have these meetings with him or with her. They will see the vision.”
No, they won’t. Eliabs are Eliabs. They are not going to change. Only God can change them. You can’t change them, so why are you wasting your time messing around with Eliabs? Why? Life is too short. I’m not saying to be mean to them or ugly or cuss them out. Just love them and turn from them and move with the movers. Diesel down those vision vandals.
Here is something else. Great visionaries also have the ability to recognize their resources. God always puts resources in our vision, right before us. If we hear our vision and see our vision from God, we can discern the resources. If David had not been walking with God, he would not have understood how to really use the sling. He wouldn’t have picked up the five stones. He would have probably put on Saul’s armor. But, because he had the discernment, God provided the resources to carry out his vision. The resources are always there for you and for me to live the life of God’s vision.
Look at 1 Samuel 17:38, “Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head.”
Look at verse 39, “And David said to Saul, ‘I cannot walk with these for I have not tested them.’ So David took them off.”
Here is what I have discovered about great visionaries and great leaders. Great visionaries or great leaders are great eliminators. You are not only measured by what you do but what you don’t do. Vision is not only who you hang out with. It’s also who you do not hang out with. If you are not regularly eliminating things from your life then your life will be too cluttered. As a mom, as a dad, as a husband, as a wife, as a CEO, as a teacher, as a coach, as a player, or as a student you need to eliminate things from your life. Your life is too busy. It’s two wheels off if you are always gathering stuff and adding stuff but never eliminating. Great leaders are great eliminators. So we have got to say, “I cannot walk with that,” like David. “I have not tested that.”
You have got to take it off. You must also do what the Bible says in the book of Ephesians 6:11 “Put on the full armor of God.”
God does not dress us. We are big boys and girls in the Lord. We dress ourselves. We should clothe ourselves in righteousness. Here is something weird about marriage that I have discovered over the years. I have been married for 20 years. Before you were married, guys, you thought to yourself, “You know, I can really dress. I know how to put it together. I’m looking good, man.” I know, because I am a guy. Once you walk down that isle something strange happens.
Suddenly, your wife begins to look at you and tell you in a nice way, “You don’t know how to dress. You’re fashion unconscious.” So, one day you find yourself sitting on the edge of your bed in your boxer shorts next to your son. You look over at your son and you say, “Man, we are going to be stylin’ today. Mommy is getting ready to dress us. She is going to have matching outfits for us.” It’s amazing how that happens. That is not the way it should be in the Christian life. We don’t say, “Okay, God, dress me.” We dress ourselves. We put on the vision. We live it out by the power of the Spirit of God.
Visionaries diesel down vision vandals. They recognize their resources. They value their victories.
“Hey, Saul. I took out the lion and the bear. I can take out this behemoth.”
He was remembering his victories. Whenever you have a great spiritual victory, keep a memento from the victory. Because you can use that to give yourself power, strength and confidence when you have those bouts with doubts you can use it in those times of testing when you don’t know which way to turn. That’s what David.
I’m going to read a verse to you that’s gross. If you are squeamish, get ready. It’s really gross. But it has a point.
After David shot the rock and hit Goliath in his big old forehead and after Goliath fell down, check out what David did. He cut Goliath’s head off. Look at 1 Samuel 17:54, “David took the Philistine’s head (that hamburger head, that watermelon head of Goliath) and brought it to Jerusalem.”
What did that look like? As he was carrying that big old head, I bet Goliath’s expression was like this [Ed makes a shocked expression], don’t you? Goliath was probably thinking, “I should have had a V-8.”
Then the Bible says, “He (David) put the Philistine’s weapons in his own tent.”
So he carried the weapons around with him in his own tent. I am sure David used those weapons and those things to give him power and strength during those dark valleys, during those times of testing. We need things like that. Many times in my life as a pastor, I go through periods of loneliness. I go through periods of saying, “God what are you saying to me?” Sometimes heaven feels like it is made of brass and I don’t feel like my prayers are getting through as they should. I just go through those times. It’s part of being a human being. I have mementos around me, trophies of God’s grace around me, to help me make it through those times.
My wife took a picture. This picture means a lot to me because in April of 1998, that was the first Sunday that we walked into the doors of our brand new Worship facility. That’s Owen and I embracing in the parking lot. Owen and I were both crying. I had just pulled up. Owen met me there and Lisa took that picture. When I look at that picture I think back to the many battles, prayer sessions and uncertainties, and all those things that God took us through to bring us to this point. This building is a miracle from God. It’s unbelievable that we are even here. That picture has helped me in different circumstances and situations because I remember what God did. I remember God’s vision. His vision for this church.
Let me give you something else — one more statement about vision I want you to jot down, and then we will spur the horse to the barn. I can say that because I have my cowboy boots on today.
Vision is a contagious commodity. Have you guys had the flu yet? Man, the flu is in our house. I’m trying to stay well. It is scary how contagious it is. Vision is a contagious commodity, because once you get a vision like David did, there is no telling where the vision will go. Check out David, 1 Samuel 17:52, “Then the men of Israel and Judah surged forward with a shout and pursued the Philistines to the entrance of Gath and to the gates of Ekron.”
David had no idea when he got this little vision from God in an obscure place that it would go public and have this huge effect on the hearts and lives of people. He had no idea about that, but it did.
Vision is a contagious commodity. If God gives you a vision for your life, and you understand it and know it, then there is no telling how he will multiply that vision. God multiplies the vision relationally, corporately, emotionally and intellectually. The vision is contagious.
Maybe you are married and have kids. It’s contagious with your kids, their friends and others. It can affect your community and your neighborhood. It can affect the city, state and country. That’s how big, how huge, vision is. I truly believe that when we get to heaven that we are just going to be knocked off our feet concerning how deep and how indelible our lives have been with so many people. And it is all because this vision thing is such a contagious commodity.
When Saul and the Israelites looked at that battle situation, they saw everything from the external. They saw what they could do and what they couldn’t do. They saw Goliath, this undefeated warrior. David didn’t see that. David saw the unseen because David was a man of vision. That’s the kind of person that God wants us to be as well.
God, give us the ability to walk in your footsteps and to follow your vision.
Excerpt from Character Tour: Vision by Ed Young Jr. Used by permission.