Andy Stanley is the pastor of a group of churches in the Atlanta area that started with North Point Community Church, and he is on the list of pastors whose recorded sermons I periodically listen to (Tim Keller and John Ortberg are the others). In 1999 he wrote a book, Visioneering: Your Guide to Discovering and Maintaining Personal Vision, that was later reissued in a revised and updated version.
The book is loosely structured around the biblical book of Nehemiah, following Nehemiah’s transition from cupbearer to the king of Persia to governor of Judea as he sought to make the vision of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem a reality. The “visioneering” of the title is “the course one follows to make dreams a reality. It is the process whereby ideas and convictions take on substance. … If I were to boil it down to a formula, it would look something like this: VISIONEERING = INSPIRATION + CONVICTION + ACTION + DETERMINATION + COMPLETION” (9). It is moving from what is to what can be in any area of life, big or small, in your career, family life, or church.
Along with the book of Nehemiah, the book is also structured around the 20 building blocks that Stanley says are involved in pursuing a vision:
- A vision begins as a concern.
- A vision does not necessarily require immediate action.
- Pray for opportunities and plan as if you expect God to answer your prayers.
- God is using your circumstances to position and prepare you.
- What God originates, he orchestrates.
- Walk before you talk; investigate before you initiate.
- Communicate your vision as a solution to a problem that must be addressed now.
- Cast your vision to the appropriate people at the appropriate time.
- Don’t expect others to take greater risks or make greater sacrifices than you have.
- Don’t confuse your plans with God’s vision.
- Visions are refined—they don’t change; plans are revised—they rarely stay the same.
- Respond to criticism with prayer, remembrance, and if necessary, a revision of the plan.
- Visions thrive in an environment of unity; they die in an environment of division.
- Abandon the vision before you abandon your moral authority.
- Don’t get distracted.
- There is divine potential in all you envision to do.
- The end of a God-ordained vision is God.
- Maintaining a vision requires adherence to a set of core beliefs and behaviors.
- Visions require constant attention.
- Maintaining a vision requires bold leadership.
This is the sort of book that is more rewarding the more you put into it. In fact, I read the original version a while back and was not particularly struck by it. It had some good advice, but wasn’t life-changing. This time, I spent more time trying to apply what Stanley was saying to my own life (there are application questions at the end of every chapter, as well as a group discussion guide at the end), and I found it to be much more useful. I recommend this book to anyone, particularly any Christian, who has some idea of where they would like to be, but is looking for practical steps on how to get there.
Note: Thanks to the publisher for a review copy of this book through Blogging for Books. I was not asked to give a positive review.