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Nehemiah 2:17


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It is the #1 distinguishing mark of a leader.  It is what causes leaders to rise to the top of the bucket like cream.  It is what separates leaders from followers, and separates mediocre leaders from great ones.


Leaders understand the value of vision.

v. 17        Nehemiah said, you guys see broken down walls and charred gates, but I see new ones surrounding a sparkling city filled with much happier people.  How did he see that?  With his mind's eye!


The Bible says we walk by faith, not by sight.  This means that we have a vision, not of the way things are, but of the way they ought to be. 

Romans 4:17
17 ...even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.

Look around you and see how things are.  Now close your eyes and see what it's supposed to look like in here.  Then leave this place and do the same exercise everywhere you go.  Ahh, this is what my workplace is supposed to be like, this is what my home is supposed to feel like, this is how my off hours are supposed to be spent...ahhh, now I see it!


Proverbs 29:18
18 Where there is no vision, the people perish:

We often preach this as a soulwinning verse.  If we don't get a vision for the lost, they will perish.  That is a good application, but it's not the primary interpretation.  It's really about us getting a vision or WE will perish!


1.     The Definition of Vision.

from the Hebrew, chazon, which has 3 meanings:

·       Open Revelation.  People perish if there is no open revelation.  Aren't you glad you have the full, open revelation of God open in your lap?  It matters not if it is open to the book of Revelation or one of the 65 previous books, it's all the open revelation of God.  It tells us all we need to know.  We are sinners, and our sins must be paid for, and Christ took that punishment for us so we can be saved.

·       Dream.  Not like a dream you have in your sleep, but as in, an aspiration.  Your 'dream home' is what you would have if money were no object.  A young man talks about his dream girl...she's the one he would pick if, well, you know, if he didn't look like he did!

joke--I asked Bro. McKee if he ever dreams and he said, yeah, just last night I dreamed I was at the circus, it was great.  Then he asked me if I had a dream.  I said yeah, I was at the World Series, w/ 2 tickets right behind home plate, and the Cardinals were in it!  He said, wow, and you didn't call me?  I can't believe you had those seats and didn't call me.  I said, I tried, but they said you were at the circus!


    If people don't find something to live for that's bigger than themselves, some aspirations, they are going to perish!

·       Mental picture.  The ability to see in your mind's eye the way things ought to be.  Not where am I at now, but where do I want and need to be.


Merge the 3 together and you need God to give you revelations, and reveal to you what aspirations and dreams you should have, and give you the eyes / vision to see it, and show you how to make it reality.  It is the perfect picture.


If we don't have vision, we will perish, so what does perish mean?  It does not mean to die or perish in hell, that's a different Hebrew word.


This is the Heb. para, which also has 3 meanings:  to become naked, zero or barren, to go backwards.


So, putting Prov. 29:18 all together now we see that if you have no mental picture, you will go backwards, and amount to nothing!  We must have goals, visions, dreams!


And so God raises up leaders with vision!  Show me a church that is going backward and I'll show you leaders with no vision.


It all starts between the ears.  We need the mind of Christ.  That will give us the perfect picture.

Philippians 2:5
5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Romans 12:2
2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Right behavior is preceded by right thinking.  You've got a brain, use it!  And the opposite is just as true.  Wrong behavior doesn't just happen, it is always preceded by wrong thinking.


This principle not only applies to behavior but also to achievement.  It all starts in the mind w/ a mental picture of where we need to be...not our own brain's desires, but w/ the mind of Christ, the vision of God!  We are not just going to stumble into success.  Luck has nothing to do with it.


What the mind can conceive and believe it can achieve!


This is not just a bunch of positive thinking mumbo jumbo.  I'm not writing a self help book or trying to be one of these new age preachers.  This is Bible!

Proverbs 23:7
7 For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he:

Let's be like Nehemiah.  Let's get a clear mental picture of what God wants for you, your family, your church, your life!


ill.--Victor Frankl was a holocaust survivor who used to travel and speak about how he survived the concentration camps.  He would say, "You are the reason I am alive."  They were baffled, because they had never seen him before.  "I have seen you a thousand times," he would say.  He then went on to explain how he would dream of the day when he would stand before crowds and tell them how he survived.  Day after day he would watch comrades lose their hope and the next day they would die.  Truly, where there is no vision the people perish!


Caution!  Don't be discouraged if not everyone sees or understands your dream.  Yes, leaders need to try to share their vision, but some will not be able to see beyond here and now.  Some are in such a survival mode they can't even listen to what you are saying.

ill.--Peanuts cartoon--Charlie Brown says, "Lucy, look at my hands.  Think of the potential in these hands.  Someday these hands may heal the sick, someday these hands may build mighty bridges, someday these hands may change the destiny of mankind!"  Lucy responded, "Charlie, your hands, they have jelly on them."


You know what God has put in your heart and don't let anyone steal that from you.  So we see the definition of vision:  A Perfect Picture.


2.     The Drive of Vision.

It is the vehicle that will take you places.  It is the key that opens the door of opportunity. 

Thomas Edison, "Show me a man who is perfectly satisfied and I'll show you a failure."


Let me show you some people who had no vision.

"Everything that can be invented has been invented."  Charles H. Duell, Commissioner of the US Patent Office, 1899 [purportedly said/disputed]


"Sensible, responsible women do not want to vote."  President Grover Cleveland, 1905.  Can you imagine saying that today?

ill.--one man said something like that to his wife, and she said, "How would you like it if you didn't see me for a few days."  He said, "I'd like that just fine!"  He later reported, "The first day I didn't see her, 2nd day, 3rd day, then on the 4th day I could see her just a little when the swelling in my left eye went down."


"There is no likelihood that man will ever tap the power of the atom."  Nobel Prize Winning Physicist Robert Milligan, 1923 [right up in Al Gore's league!]

joke--know what the result of the first atom [Adam] being split was?  Eve!  [Hey, I saw what you put in the offering, what kind of jokes do you expect?!]


Lord Kelvin, 1855, "Flying machines heavier than air are an impossibility."


In contrast, when Walt Disney was alive he had the vision of Disney World.  But he died before it became reality.  At the grand opening his surviving wife was an honored guest on the platform.  The emcee said to her, I just wish Walt could have seen it.  She replied two words:  He did.

        He was the first man ever to see Disney World, before anyone lifted the first finger.


Vision is the driving force that will take us where we need to be.  Not where my life is, but where God wants my life.  [Family / Marriage / Church / my ministry / business]


Vision is the key that starts it, and the spark that ignites it, and the gears that get things rolling!  Vision is the vehicle which will drive you to your dreams!  What is vision?  Perfect Picture.  Why is it so important?  Provides Passion!


3.     The Diversity of Vision.

Some have no vision.  They are negative, pessimistic folks who tell you why it can't be done or shouldn't be done.  They often think of themselves as 'realistic', but God wants to take us far beyond reality and the natural to the supernatural!

ill.--when the steamboat was invented it was set for a first trial in the Hudson river, and they say a man on the banks stood there saying, "They'll never get it going."  Over and again he repeated this, until it started moving, at which time he promptly changed his tune to, "They'll never get it stopped!"


Helen Keller, "Worse than being blind would be to see, yet have no vision."


Some have lost their vision.  They once had it, but they let it go.  Maybe they were hurt, discouraged, or grew too comfortable.


I hear all the time from pastors and leaders who have lost their vision.  They say things like, you can't get people in our area to go to church, you can't get people to come to evening services or special revival meetings, you can't get people to give to missions anymore.  They've lost their vision!


ill.--a serviceman in a foreign country took a local bride, and they lived abroad together for years, all the while he told her about his home church back in the states, and how grand it was.  He bragged and bragged until years later when they made a trip to the states.  He was so excited to show her his home church.  They pulled up to a parking lot of weeds and potholes.  All the exterior was broken down, and the door was ajar.  They entered to a looted mess.  The place was stripped and peeled of all value, and cob webs were everywhere.  He approached the altar at the front.  Then he saw it, still there on the wall behind the pastor's podium for all to see, a wood carving placed there years ago by one of the deacons he had fashioned himself, this verse of Prov. 29:18, except the 'W' of the first word had fallen off.  It now read, "here there is no vision, the people perish."


Only one thing is worse than having less, and that is settling for less as the norm.  Apathy is a killer.  And they say ignorance is bliss.  What's the difference between ignorance and apathy?  I don't know and I don't care!


Don't settle.  Don't settle for less.  Don't settle for less than God's best!


And don't give up.  If something in your life isn't what it used to be, don't give in and forget about the fact of what it ought to be, which is probably even better than how it used to be!

ill.-- a farm dug a well, but his mule fell into it.  He rushed over and peered inside, and much to his surprise the mule was alive and standing on all 4's!  He thought, well, it's too expensive to haul him out, and he's so old, he'll die soon anyway, I'll just bury him!  He began to throw in shovelfuls of dirt.  But each time he did the old mule would shake the dirt off of his back, and then stomp on that dirt!  Over and again the dirt would fall upon him, and each time he'd just shake it off and step up, shake it off and step up!  Eventually he had risen high enough to walk right ou!

        We need to be stubborn as a mule w/ our vision, and no matter what life throws on us or what others may heap upon our backs, just shake it off and step up!


Some have no vision, and some have lost their vision...

Some have limited vision.

ill.--Zig Ziglar tells of a motivational speaker who drew great crowds and charged $30,000 a speech.  He was invited to a convention of businessmen.  He used a 6' blackboard and a piece of chalk for an illustration.  He drew a dot in the middle.  "What do you see?" he asked a man on the front row.  "A dot."  He proceeded to ask the entire front row what they saw, and they all answered the same.  It drew on quite monotonously and in impatience each next one asked would just say, "The same."  "A dot."  "I see what everyone sees."  At the end of the back row after the final answer the speaker said, "Herein lies your problem.  Each of you sees the same little dot, and not one of you sees the 6' blackboard waiting for so much more to be written upon it."

        That was $30,000!  But if they got the message it was worth it.  We must see the big picture!


We limit God w/ our limited vision.  Jesus said He's good for as much as we'll believe Him for.  If we just had a tiny speck of faith we could move mountains, and we're straining to move tiny specks!  We are the limiting factor.  Jesus said he could not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief!


We need to see the big picture!  Our church building is the dot on the chalkboard.  It's just a tool to do the real work.  The big picture is people coming to hear the Word of God.  The big picture is that young couple that comes, on the verge of divorce, but they come and get saved and their marriage is saved!  A nice youth room and game room is fine, but the big picture is that teen who was planning on taking his own life finding new life in Christ and changing his mind!  A midweek meal is dandy for all of us, but the big picture is bringing someone to it who will get saved in the next hour.  Our playground is just the dot on the chalkboard.  The big picture is what God will do in those little lives.  The new roof is important, but much more important is the souls saved under it!  I'd sure love a new parking lot, but either way, the big picture is those who will arrive just as they are, and leave changed!


Paul Harvey said, "A blind man is bound by the limits of his touch, and ignorant man is bound by the limits of his knowledge, a great man is bound only by the limits of his vision!"  I believe God is a big God who wants for us to dream big and believe Him for big things for our church, our families, etc.


Some have no vision, have lost their vision, have limited vision...

Finally, there are people with 20/20 Vision.  A clear vision of how things ought to be, and their vision calls them to action.  It drives them to do more than others, to work while others rest, and to accomplish great things to the glory of God!  Perfect Picture, Provides Power, Propels People!


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