Several years ago I approached a member of my staff to discuss the details of an important assignment. We had a brief conversation and needed more time to talk, but I was very busy and was unable to schedule her for an appointment.
Days later she contacted me for a meeting, during which she presented a thorough report of her findings. It was obvious she had spent a lot of time and energy on the project. There was one major problem, however. I had failed to provide clear directives for the assignment. Her concept of the task was almost entirely the opposite of my intended plan.
We had to start over at square one. I gave her some background information on the vision God had given to me and the purpose I felt He wanted it to accomplish. As I unveiled the details of the project, she grasped the vision and became quite excited about her involvement. Unlike the first attempt to bring this project to fruition, this time there was clear direction.
This scenario reminds me of the prophet Habakkuk when he questioned God about why He tolerated so much evil. God's reply assures Habakkuk that the people will be punished for their sins. "'Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it'" (Hab. 2:2, NKJV).
God wanted the people of Judah to understand that punishment was indeed on the way, and He told Habakkuk to make His intentions plain enough for the people to comprehend.
My experience taught me a very important lesson about effective leadership. Succinctly sharing what God has placed in your heart is a key factor in the success of any project. If a vague message is transmitted to others, the vision is delayed. Individuals become frustrated. Grumbling and complaining follow and discouragement sets in.
Vision comes after the Lord places in us a deep sense of urgency to meet a specific need. Nehemiah experienced this firsthand. He wept when he heard about the condition of his homeland. He then sought the Lord for direction.
As a result, God placed in Nehemiah a burden to return home. After his "midnight investigation" of the plight of Jerusalem, Nehemiah challenged the people to rebuild the walls. The task was accomplished in 52 days.
Through my personal leadership experiences, I am suggesting the following steps to accomplishing your vision:
**Create a quiet and relaxed atmosphere for discussing projects. Even the apostle Paul went to a desolate place called Arabia for three years to hear the voice of God.
**Prepare a written job description for major assignments.
**Delegate responsibilities. As Nehemiah rebuilt the wall he designated half the workers to build the wall while the other half stood watch against their enemies.
**Don't assume individuals working on the project know what you are trying to accomplish. Sharing goals creates a sense of urgency and importance for workers. Inclusiveness will strengthen your efforts.
**Maintain an open line of communication. Be careful not to be overbearing or give the impression that you are second-guessing a team member's ability to perform a given task.
As God orders our steps, He gives clear directives. We may not always understand His ways, but our faith will move us forward in His plan.
As we model the image of our heavenly Father, let us be diligent in leading His people toward His vision, with clear and precise direction. * Barbara McCoo Lewis is the supervisor of women for the Southern California First Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction for the Church of God in Christ. She oversees the leadership of women in 250 churches.