Robert Lewis, author of “Quest for Authentic Manhood” and “Raising a Modern-Day Knight: A Father’s Role in Guiding His Son to Authentic Manhood” has been quoted as saying:
What does he mean and what are the implications of that statement?
- “Vision” = “the act or power of anticipating that which will or may come to be”
In very general terms, a man can be full of action and engagement, or passive and idle. Of course, we’re most beneficial to everyone around us when we’re committed and productive.
From the beginnings of recorded history, we take note of accomplishments of mankind — what was done, built, named, invented, realized or even conquered. Civilizations have risen and fallen, we’ve orbited the Earth, stepped foot on the Moon, created artificial hearts, beat many diseases, and engaged in arts, philosophy and missions/ministry work on a global scale.
Even from the beginning of mankind, as noted in Genesis, God created Adam and set him to work doing things — naming all the animals, cultivating the garden, ruling over the earth. The Bible also records genealogy lists — men who became husbands and fathers (including some great ones and some who didn’t lead their families so well).
We’re designed to be busy, but without a plan, a vision, a direction or goal, we can easily become lost, waste time, or worse, give up and hope someone else will take the lead on our behalf.
What sort of vision do most men make? The answer can be found by examining what captivates a man’s mind – expressed in his interests, his imagination, and his dreams.
Many men have been conditioned by society (or family or specific peers) to measure a fulfilled life in terms of temporal, earthly success (i.e. wealth, fame, achievements, recognitions, titles). Indeed, many men have been highly successful in defining that sort of vision and calling it forth (making it happen). Most of these men find their identity in what they do for a living (profession, occupation, etc.) and keep detailed score of their progress.
The implications of setting a vision on earthly success are many. This focus could very easily distort healthy self reliance and accomplishment into a worldview that suggests we don’t need God, we can work our way out of any problem, or that moral behavior is linked to meeting goals, not grounded in an eternal bedrock of right and wrong. Further, and perhaps through no fault of their own, these men could suffer a career setback (i.e. demotion, layoff, etc.) which might cripple their self-worth since they’ve tied their vision and identity to what they do instead of who they were designed to be, become or even establish as a future legacy.
A very different group of men live in a self-induced, prolonged adolescence — avoiding commitment, embracing passivity, being “nagged” to get basic tasks completed and ignoring a call to craft a vision beyond beating their own high score on their favorite video game. That may be too harsh, but often, these men are like a light switch stuck in the “off” position — holding potential to act, but stubbornly sticking in a largely unproductive mode for lack of a clear vision, or a drive to make it happen with any sense of urgency. Fostering this behavior are peers or family who are willing to either:
- enable the man to continue in this un-engaged, vision-less mode, or
- lead in the absence of this man’s own vision or drive to call it forth into reality.
A third group of men have been challenged by their intimate study of the Word of God to look beyond their own fleeting earthly existence (Psalm 39; Psalm 144:4; James 4:13-17) to build a legacy that is honoring and glorifying God – as expressed during their own lifetime and through future generations (Deut 6:5-7; Joshua 24:14-15; Psalm 78:1-8; Psalm 127; Proverbs 16:9; Proverbs 19:21; Micah 6:8; Matthew 6:20-21; Luke 10:27; 2 Tim 2:2; 2 Tim 4:1-5, et.al.) They recognize the value of investing in their familial relationships (spouse, children, extended family), developing a vision that encompasses their relationships, leverages their personal leadership, skills and talents to a greater calling that could become an enduring legacy for generations to come. Then they pour themselves into calling forth that vision in close communion with God who enables and guides his footsteps.
A calling to spiritual/faith-based vision crafting does not set a man on a trajectory to being poor in wealth or capabilities, it’s just that these men may refine their focus from simple accumulation of wealth or titles, to viewing prosperity as a mechanism to bless others while taking on larger goals that could only be completed with the blessing of this income. Rich or poor, men should remember the underlying comfort and empowerment of Philippians 4:11-13 (NASB):
I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
This is a man whose joy in life isn’t measured by his bank account balance, but is also unwilling to sit back and relax — he engages knowing that by putting his trust in God, he can do “all things” that are in line with God’s goals and plans. Consider these verses:
Jeremiah 17:7-8 – Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord And whose trust is the Lord. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, That extends its roots by a stream And will not fear when the heat comes; But its leaves will be green, And it will not be anxious in a year of drought Nor cease to yield fruit.
Psalm 1:1-3 – How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.
Proverbs 16:9 – The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.
Proverbs 19:21 – Many plans are in a man’s heart, But the counsel of the Lord will stand.
The promise is clear, calling forth a well crafted, God honoring vision will be fulfilling and fruitful.
Questions to consider:
- How have you defined your vision?
- Are you calling it forth and realizing success?
- Do you struggle with passivity or finding your footing as leader at home, work or in recreational pursuits?
- Have you shared your vision with your family and do they help support you in realizing it?
- Does your vision fit with your study of scriptures as a reasonable plan which honors and glorifies God in your life?
- As a father, have you discussed vision crafting with your sons so that they are prepared for their own future calling?