Leadership – Using our exceptional ability to imagine

As a biologist, I am fascinated by the ingenuity of certain animal species. I am amazed by the architecture of the nest of one species of millipede I studied extensively for my PhD – more complex than I had initially imagined, with a ventilation window and an area of least resistance that is easy to break when the animal comes out after moulting. Or consider the architecture and size of termite mounds in the tropical savannahs. And what about nests of wasps, hornets or bees?

Yet, on closer inspection, it appears that all these animals build their nests by instinct. The construction is a kind of repetition of what is already well-programmed according to the species of the animal.

Unlike animals, human beings, created in the image of God, have an aptitude to imagine and dream, to theorise and conceptualise. Jesus certainly had this in mind when he said: ‘Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?’ (Luke 14.28) Jesus seems to invite us to design what we have to do before its realization – an invitation that has a particular importance for those who lead.

To lead is to use this gift of imagination from God in order to discern the better future we seek to achieve. It is this mental and spiritual image of the future that is called vision. And for us as believers, the vision is not only a preferable ideal, it bring us


closer to God’s ideal of a world less distorted by sin. In this way, the vision bears within itself the germ of transformation and the faith in God that things that are not possible today can become possible tomorrow.

The call to leadership requires the leader to be able to discern a direction towards which he or she will lead others. Each leader should resist the temptation of activism to have time and space to listen to God. The leader must examine his ministry and ask himself: What do we believe the Lord desires us to become tomorrow? In other words, what picture do I have today of the future – near or distant – which I’m willing to work for so that it becomes a reality tomorrow?

You need to be both visionary and strategic in order to motivate the community so they own this extraordinary vision

All of us would like to see God’s answers made known to us like a package coming down from heaven. But we know that in everyday life, God uses various channels, simple and layered, even complex, to unveil his vision. The leader must therefore know how, under the inspiration

of the Holy Spirit, to analyse and observe the context and needs of their continually changing situation in order to discern God’s vision for the future.

Of course, we also all hope the vision we have received from God will materialize before our very eyes, but the leader should not get caught in the trap of believing that because he or she has not seen the realization of the vision, he or she has necessarily failed. The visionary leader must be a servant. You need others. You need to work for others and create space for others. And you need to be both visionary and strategic in order to motivate the community so they own this extraordinary vision and are not frightened by it.

A good vision must be centred on Christ and his Kingdom and not focused on an individual, as talented as he or she may be. If the vision is appropriate and carried out by the community, it’s potential to be realized will be very high.

Source: http://ifesworld.org/en/ blog/2014/03/leadership-making-use-our-exceptional-ability-imagine

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