O Mary, Don’t You Weep, Don’t You Weep
By Captain Terry Camsey –
When you think about it, a map is pretty useless if you haven’t decided where you are going…even if you know where you are now. The reverse is also true. If you know where you want to get to, but you don’t know where you are now, a map is also useless. In reality, for a map to be helpful, we need to know both where we are and where we wish to go.
Therein lies an analogy that may help us to differentiate between the various elements of a master plan…even (please God) The Master’s plan.
A mission statement reminds us of our purpose, our reason for being. God had a purpose in sending Jesus to the world (John 3:16). Jesus had a purpose (John 4:18,19). Purposes are very useful because they tell us not only what we should be doing, they also help us in making decisions whether to do things or not. So, someone comes up with a great idea for the corps. The first question must be, “Will this help us accomplish our purpose? Could it be shaped so that it does help accomplish our purpose?” If the answer is no, then serious consideration should be given as to whether the proposed idea should even be attempted. Mission is, therefore, a “sieve” through which present activities as well as proposed ones should pass. Jesus had his purpose so firmly in mind that he could pass by what others saw as opportunities when he himself did not consider them appropriate to his mission.
When we talk about vision, however, the situation can become a little confusing. The word itself conjures up thoughts about an ability to foretell the future…as if there were a crystal ball, or a set of tarot cards, or a reading of the stars that will enable us to do that. On the television recently, the weatherman was bragging about the new radar equipment–state of the art–that they now have. Nevertheless, all that radar can do is read what already exists…it cannot with 100 percent accuracy predict what is ahead. Of course, when you mention vision, some immediately think of weeping icons of the Virgin Mary…or seeing saints in fluffy clouds…or Jesus in the tinted glass of a window…In this context, however, envisioning has more to do with what we feel in our hearts that God would like to see happen. It’s a description of what things would be like if the mission were actually being accomplished to his satisfaction. It is, if you like, a projection of the mission accomplished onto the screen of some future point in time. It is a destination.
When we know what our mission is and what we feel God would like to see us accomplish through that mission (our vision) we can assess just where we are on the map. We can know where we are now as well as where we feel God wants us to strive to reach (our destination). Here’s the great part…
When you know where you are and where you want to be, you can move towards your destination in any number of ways. In fact, if you start off on one route and obstacles are encountered, you just fix your eyes on the destination (vision) and take another route. Vision is, therefore, also a kind of sieve through which we can assess the effectiveness of our present route. If it is not getting us where we know God wants us to be, we can make an adjustment and make our way there by another route.
Deciding on the optional routes is the strategy part of planning. Looking at all the alternatives and selecting the best…so far as you can see…remember God and the weathermen!
Mission, vision, strategy…all have their place. But can you now see that a map (a strategy) is kind of useless if it is not accomplishing your mission or moving you towards your destination (vision).
Las Vegas is approached through a desert…a wilderness. If you drive there at night, you can see the glow of the city clearly from many miles away. The glow is big, bright and beckoning, so that, even though you may be in the dark, you can see its glow and find your way to it through and around obstacles.
That’s how it is with vision.
Make it big enough, bright enough, beckoning enough, and… you’ll never get lost, plus…
It will attract followers like moths to a flame.
What do you see? What do you say?