Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Chapter 11 - Team Building: Visionary Leadership

There’s a lot about this book that I love. I’m realizing that one of the things that I love about it is that it is written, ostensibly, by a non-Christian. Before you cry foul and claim that your Program Director has lost his mind, hear me out.

We recognize and proclaim that it’s only by God’s unending Grace and His Merciful guidance that we are able to do what we do. We know that His example of servant leadership, set by His Son, is the best (and only!) example we can follow…

BUT, there are times when seeing things from a non-Christian perspective allows us to gain some crucial insight we might miss from inside the bubble of Christian culture. I think that this chapter is one of those times.

“A good team is far more than a group of people committed to a common goal.” (108)

A group of people can be committed to a common goal and get there without really having a vision. For example, the other night, my friends and I had the common goal of going to a Twins game. We didn’t have a vision for the evening, or really even a plan for how it would all work out, but we made it to the game on time and had a great evening. In other words, we achieved our goal. BUT, other than the few hours of fun and some memories that will last for a while, there was little else that came out of our evening.

Your team this summer can reach your common goal of serving our partner while developing character in the team members. I’m confident that all of our teams this summer will reach that goal. The question is, will it matter?

Vision asks the question: “how will the world look differently for us having accomplished our ministry?” In other words, if we are 100% successful in achieving our team’s vision for this summer, what will it look like?

Read the following quote from CTI’s Summer Program Vision:

“Ideally, each young person will leave the summer program with a more missional mindset, and will return home to impact their churches and communities through their deepening character and continuing desire to embrace ministry and discipleship as lifelong commitments.”

Reflection Question #1: How will you emphasize the idea of being more than just a group of people committed to a common goal? How will you help make CTI’s vision for our summer program happen?

One of the key assets I look for in leaders is their ability to communicate clearly.

Graham points out that a crucial part of visionary leadership is not just coming up with a clear vision, but also communicating it concisely.

Think back to fulltime training last August. You may not realize this, but Chris and I (as well as the other trainers) were constantly stating and restating the vision of the program for you. We’d say it in different ways and through different voices, but the vision always remained the same.

We obviously have a vision for the entire summer program, but you’ll need to work to come up with your vision for your team. Once you have the vision, the challenge then becomes communicating it to your team in ways that they understand, will remember, and are able to implement.

Here in the office, we’ve boiled our vision down to two main statements:

“Supporting global mission and ministry through the impact of music”


“Developing Christian leadership and character in young musicians”

They hang on our office walls. They reside at the bottom of our letterhead. They permeate all that we do.

Reflection Question #2: What communication barriers/struggles will you need to overcome as a leader? How will you communicate your vision to your team?

In my mind, the world’s expert on visionary leadership is Andy Stanley. I’d like to share a few thoughts from his book, Visioneering, as a way to round out this week’s post.

Everybody ends up somewhere in life. You can get there on purpose.

This statement is another way of saying what Graham said in the quote I highlighted above. This summer, go forward with a purpose.

Visioneering requires patience, investigation, and planning. Visioneering requires faith in God’s ability to work behind the scenes. Confidence that he will orchestrate what he has originated.

Visionary leadership doesn’t happen by accident. Stanley highlights here the need for both planning (we have to do our part) and faith (we have to trust that God’s going to do His part).

Things won’t always work out the way you expect them to. Be careful not to confuse your plans with God’s vision. Remember, plans are often revised. Don’t be afraid to alter your strategy as circumstances around you change.

In other words, the vision never changes… but, the way you accomplish it might change. Things will happen (equipment failures, travel issues, team member problems) and you will have to react, but always ask yourself the question: is this fulfilling our team’s vision?

At the end of Chapter 11 in Outdoor Leadership, Graham points out that anyone can develop and communicate a vision. He mentions that some people may struggle, and he advocates for practicing on yourself before you implement this strategy with a group.

Reflection #3: Come up with a small/simple vision for yourself as a way of practicing. Share with us both your vision and how you intend to achieve it. Get used to asking yourself the question: is this vision-fulfilling behavior?


  1. #1: I feel like most of the people coming through the summer program will already meet the 'people committed to a common goal' part of their experience. We are all drawn to and part of CTI because we love Christ, are gifted in music, and want to use our gifts to share the love of Christ with the world.

    In other words, the common goal is (more or less) already established for us.

    I have put as much focus and thought into developing a theme for my team this year for the express purpose of developing a vision and creating something more than being good musicians to strive for. My vision for my team is that by the end of the tour we will have learned more about who Christ is in the world (outside our own community) and do that through serving YFCHK in any way possible, not just in ways that 'work for us' or are 'easy' and 'comfortable'. My vision for the team is that they learn there is no one way to do something, there is no one right answer- even in ministry.
    Through the few things I just shared I want my team to experience and hopefully learn, I feel team members can return home with a greater world view and understanding of who God is around the globe and be able to share that with their churches, family, and friends. That the experience they have overseas with CTI awaken a/further their desire to continue supporting missions- whether that be supporting others or going again themselves.

    #2: I want to communicate my vision through devotional times as my main avenue of giving them information, but to also make it the thing we always come back to in discussion. For example, say one team member has grown up eating meat and potatoes his entire life and all the sudden is now eating rice and fish every day. I hope that the team will have taken the vision to heart by then and instead of griping about it, he recognizes by laying down his dietary preferences he is in fact performing a great ministry to the contacts ( the Jew I became a Jew, for the Chinese I ate like the Chinese...).

    I think the greatest challenge in communicating this for me is making sure that I do come back to it. I can see myself getting so busy with other things that making sure everyone is still on board with the theme and even finding how it is occurring in our ministry may slip to the wayside. However, this is why I'm developing it now and putting as much thought and effort into it as I am so that it is at the front of MY mind so that it will be at the front of theirs.

    #3: I guess the vision I am already developing for myself is along the same lines at the one I'm developing for the team: serve the contact and culture according to their needs and cultural preferences, not our own. For myself, however, there's even more of an emphasis on SERVING THE CONTACT'S NEEDS, no matter what I think those needs may be otherwise. I know HK is a hectic month for a team with a bunch of go-go-go attitudes around us. I plan on not letting my mind slow down so much that I start to think about what I'm doing and pick it apart- doing so always leads to negative thoughts, hardly ever positive ones.

    Ex: A bride, post-wedding, who becomes disappointed in the ceremony because all the details didn't meet her super high standards of perfection she had created in her mind. To her now, the wedding has become flawed and an annoyance. When really, nothing went wrong and she has completely lost sight of the fact that she just got married to the love of her life.

    I don't want to be the HM bride in HK. I don't want to find all the flaws in the YFC system and focus on those (regardless if they are real or imagined). I want to see our partnership as something God-ordained and positive so that my attitude towards the work we are doing and the requests we receive from YFC are positive and maybe even excited.

    So, for putting this baby into action, a lot of how I just think about it will determine the outcome. Thoughts determine actions, and my actions are what I will be giving back to my team, the YFC, and the world. So as long as I remember that bit of weighty information, I think I'll be ok.

  2. "Thoughts determine actions, and my actions are what I will be giving back to my team, the YFC, and the world."

    I love this, Sara. It's so true. What we believe determines how we behave. The same holds true for leadership. Thanks for sharing, Sara.

  3. #1 It’s hard to come up with an answer to this kind of question without knowing the dynamic of my team yet. However, there are a few things that I think I can plan on doing that will emphasize being more than just a group of people with a common goal. One of those things is praying together. Taking time to pray about the things we are in Guatemala to do and the ways in which we can make that happen, then each individuals experience becomes intertwined with everyone else’s.
    Also, I think being aware of the “goal/vision” and reminding ourselves of it often will be an integral part of actually making it happen. I really believe that the act of going through things together will make us more than just a group of people with a common goal. It’s like our Ft teams and the rest of the CTI staff. We ALL have the same goal/vision, but 14:22 is my team and we’re more than just a group of people who believe in the same things because we’ve gone through so many things together trying to reach that goal/vision.

    In all honesty, I feel like communicating with people is a strong point for me. I am pretty confident at reading people and how they need to hear things in order to receive them well. So I don’t think I’ll have a problem communicating my vision to my team (although I haven’t fully decided yet exactly how I am going to do that) the challenge will come in me being confident in myself and stepping into the authority I’ve been given. I also want to make sure I make my team feel like they are capable of (and welcomed to) contributing to the vision and it’s fulfillment.

    #3 my vision
    Here’s a small vision for myself: Being selfless and acknowledging that I can’t do anything apart from the grace of God. I want my team to be able to trust me and to know that I would do anything for their own good and not for my good over theirs. I want them to see in me the same thing they see in their own lives: that we aren’t good on our own and we can’t do anything good without God working in/through us. My best bet in making that happen is to spend time with the Lord every morning and every night when possible. That time alone with God will be necessary if I want to be emptied of myself and filled up by Him.

  4. 1) I think by using scripture to reiterate the reasons we do what we do is one step, but it takes so much more than having the common goal that we are a team who will seek to serve our partner. It starts with our hearts and attitudes. I desire for my team to be able to see the bigger picture and how what we are doing this summer can and will change who and what we do in the future. Each decision, such as coming on a summer team, is an opportunity to grow into who God has for us to become. My prayer for my team is that they will not only embrace this summer as a missional opportunity and a time to grow, but also realize the importance of living a life for Christ in all we do whether overseas, at church, at school, or on the job; not just when we are on a mission trip. Everything we do is for the glory of God so I pray that this summer my team and I will make a new commitment to God as we seek to become his disciples in all of life, not just for the summer.

    2)Basically I desire to communicate in a clear way what the Lord is showing me for this summer. I haven’t worked it all out yet but I want to make sure it comes from my heart and not my head, kind of like Graham said on page 118. I often let my head get in the way and analyze things a bit too much instead of just simply listening to my heart and letting it flow from that. I’m excited for the beginning vision I have for my team to Serbia but now I just need to keep allowing my heart to lead in this way so that when my team arrives I am able to communicate effectively the vision I have and thus being able to pass it on to them and make it a whole team effort in fulfilling the vision. ☺ I know more than anything I will need to demonstrate and believe the vision in order for the team to see it and be able to believe in it as well.

    3)A vision for myself… hmm this is harder than I would like to think it should be. Starting small I think my vision for these next weeks is humility (although after typing that I realize it’s not such a small thing at all). It’s been one of those things the Lord is working on with me and I realize that in order to really get across God’s vision both for my team and myself I will need to stay humble as a leader. After all Jesus is the ultimate example and he was one humble leader huh? I want my team to be able to see that “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble”. In order to get my team on board with this I will need to sink it deep in my heart. So may the Lord keep humbling me over and over again no matter how hard it may be.

  5. Holy crap guys, thats some awesome stuff!

    #1- Well, this is no longer my team, so this is just a suggestion Losh, but I really am enamored with the idea of a family/community. While all (hopefully) will have the common purpose of music and ministry, I want our team to exhibit the the Love of Christ, in a very real way. to bear one another's burdens and encourage each other wen we fall. Lofty and ideal I know, but to quote the old hunting limerick "Aim Small, Miss Small". Or, shoot high, and you'll hit higher than if you aimed low.

    #2- Hurdles in communication. "Speaking Code". CTI code, inside jokes about full time, Excessive sarcasm, and cynical comments can be such a detriment to ministry, and I am guilty of all. So, my first goal is to stay positive and encouraging. And to keep the Vision of love in my actions as well as my words.

    #3- Vision- Personally, right in line with what all ya'll have said, Humility, Selflessness, and Looking to Serve the Contact. To me, that starts and ends with being Connected to the One who is the source of all that. And to add to that list, staying positive and upbeat. Not that i am capable of this, but God is, and I rely on Him for it. How I intend to do this, allow a change to happen in me, from the inside out. Allow my mindset to change, allow my view of myself to grow, allowing the peace of Christ to rest on me, and not tell Him to get lost!


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