If you spend any time listening or reading modern church leaders like Perry Noble and Steven Furtick, you know that they are driven by vision. Their job is to cast vision, and everybody else’s job is to follow the leader’s vision.
It’s a leaders job to cast vision and focus people on the future, not to be in a constant state of comparison. I wrestle with this–every leader I know does; however, I honestly believe that the more passionate and obsessive we become about VISION…the more of a difference God will allow our churches to have.
Church members are expected to believe the vision religiously. They are something to be believed in.
People DO BELIEVE in the vision God has placed IN you.
As much as they build their careers and churches on the first part of Proverbs 29:18, visionary leaders rarely quote the entire verse:
Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.
The word vision is not the same as we use in corporate vision statements. The word has a number of possible meanings:
- a) vision (in ecstatic state)
- b) vision (in night)
- c) vision, oracle, prophecy (divine communication)
- d) vision (as title of book of prophecy)
In the context of this verse, it refers to God’s inspired Word. Notice the contrast in the but. People who don’t listen to God’s Word cast off restraint, but blessed are the people who listen and obey it. The antidote to perishing is not to cast vision, but to keep the law.
In fact, visions in the Old Testament usually describe things to be avoided. Scan the minor prophets, for example, to see how often visions are descriptions of God’s consuming punishment for sin. They are never blissful dreams of future goodness; prophets who cast such positive visions are condemned (Ezekiel 13:16, Jeremiah 23:16-18). Another way to translate the verse might be something like
Where there is no certain threat of God’s devastating punishment, the people will act carelessly and without restraint, but people who obey God’s law will be blessed. (Proverbs 29:18, Duncan translation)
As Lance Rowlett points out, the common misapplication of the verse is ironic.
Properly interpreted, this passage is a timeless call to proper proclamation of Truth. But in order to properly proclaim God’s Word, we must properly interpret it.
Of late, though, the passage has been improperly interpreted, thus improperly applied to ministry. And that is the irony–a verse that implies the need for correct handling of God’s Word has been improperly handled (cf. 2 Tim. 2:15), and thus ends up extinguishing its own intent.
So-called visions can be dangerous and wrong. Many times in the Old Testament, God’s people are warned away from false teachers casting their own visions.
See Jeremiah 23:16, for example (all of these verses use the same word for vision as Proverbs 29).
This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord.
Here’s another example from Ezekiel 7:26.
Calamity upon calamity will come, and rumor upon rumor. They will try to get a vision from the prophet; the teaching of the law by the priest will be lost, as will the counsel of the elders.
One more from Jeremiah 14:14.
Then the Lord said to me, “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries and the delusions of their own minds.
At least Perry Noble realizes that his own visions are risky.
I believe that if a leader is consistently spending time with Jesus and being set on fire that, from time to time, he or she will cast a vision that is so bold that everyone in the room becomes uncomfortably excited!
The comforting thing for Noble is that if someone points out that the vision is false, it’s actually proof that it’s correct.
He must understand that if the vision is from the Lord it will be attacked…people will not like it…it will get personal…BUT, even when all of these things happen he simply will not back down from what he knows the Lord has spoken into him.
Confidence is casting a strong vision and asking others to join you…
When someone asks you to follow a vision, especially when it’s not God’s certain revelation, run for your lives.