“Vision casting” is a fascinating term associated with leadership — especially church leadership. So what does the “casting” part mean anyway? Is that like something done in a forge or in a fishing boat? Perhaps we know what it is without a precise definition because it is attached to the noun vision. People talk about doing it but I think most Christian leaders need to hone the skill more.
Words are the primary tools of vision casting. Choose them carefully. Here are a few tips.
Tip #1: Speak
If you have a clear picture in your heart of how it could be, then notify those around you. Don’t keep it under wraps in fear that others will resist it. When you get a blank stare in response, take that as a challenge to clarify what you are saying not just stuff it away. When you hear an objection, listen carefully between the words. Formulate a response over time and adapt your own picture as necessary until they start smiling and even get teary eyed.
Tip #2: Speak to the Future
Everyone knows something is wrong. Plenty of pundits can describe it better than you. Instead, emphasize what it will be like when your reality unfolds. Pick words that draw a picture. The more people can see it in their mind’s eye like a memory of a favourite childhood book, the more it will capture their imagination. Find your own metaphors. Laboru to find the exact words and precise image that evokes a response.
Tip #2 Speak from the Future
Words of longing can sound like whining when you are not careful. Use terms that speak of “when” not “if.” As a young Pastor, one Sunday I was compelled to speak of what I saw across the driveway from our church building in the open field. I saw a place where there was sprawling new housing sponsored by our church, I saw flowering trees, pleasant walkways and park benches. I saw senior citizens interacting with young children and telling of the good old days. I went on and on about what was, in reality, a few open fields. Today, those places exist substantially as I saw them and made my declaration to that small new congregation. There was little doubt in my mind that we would get there. There is a sense in which I spoke it into existence because I rolled the timeline out several years and spoke from the future back to the present and beckoned others to follow me down that path.
Tip #3: Speak for the Future
The future is the child of the present. It needs advocates to speak to its protection and development. In graphic but realistic terms, describe the condition of people as it will be if we don’t cut a new path now. Speak as the voice of the future reaching to find the latent motivation in every heart that yearns to make a difference and leave a legacy. The future needs to look the people in the eye and appeal for them to help.
Tip #4: Speak with Conviction
People don’t care about what you think; they care about what you know. Certainty of conviction generates will and emotion. You must have emotion but you must have resolve that outlasts the heat of a few moments when the emotions run high. The emotion must ooze sincerity, warmth and hope. Scolding stirs people to feel badly and then go home and do something to eliminate the discomfort. At best they might try to alleviate their pain by sharing the bad new.
Tip #5: Speak for Action
Always speak so that people know there is something to do. Be as specific as you can. Today. This week. For three months. Call people to act. And then follow up after the deadline to see how many acted. Most may not act. But more will when they know you are going to ask them afterward if they did. Your vision will only become real when you have vision carriers to do the heavy lifting.
Tip #6: Think before You Speak
You have to have something noble inside before you put it in words to others. Define it. Journal it. Develop it a little every day. Marinate in it. Build momentum in your own heart until your new story is ready to burst out of your mouth.
Vision casting is a fine art. Some come by the ability easier than others. However, nothing much happens until somebody blurts out, “I have a dream!”