Having a vision is essential. Put simply this means that you must have an idea of where you think you are going and where you want to go with your ministry. The following statements range from old to modern and include great perception from Helen Keller — they illustrate the need for vision.

“If a man does not know to which port he is sailing,
no wind is favorable.”

Seneca, circa 65 A.D.

“A vision statement focuses on the direction
of an organization and what the organization wants to accomplish.
It is inspirational, motivational,
and able to paint a picture of the transition and the end product.
Values are the foundation of the vision statement.”

Fred Pryor

“If you don’t know where you’re going, then you probably
won’t know when you get there.”

Yogi Berra, 1963

A reporter once asked Helen Keller, “Is there anything worse than being blind?“
“Oh, yes,” she replied, “Having sight but no vision!”

Developing a vision is a journey. It takes, time, much thought and reflection. As the leader, you must have a vision, in fact, you must ensure that a vision is developed. But you don’t have to do this in isolation. True, some leaders like to spend time reflecting and thinking, alone. And you may be one of those. If you are, make sure that the information on which you are going to reflect is based on truth and is current, up to date, and factual.

Many leaders like to share the whole process of developing a vision with their team. They share their knowledge, values, and priorities to develop a common view of what they would like the future to be.

  • that your team has probably contributed some excellent ideas (you, personally, don’t have a monopoly on the good ideas)
  • the team has a similar depth of understanding,
  • the team has a sense of ownership “we developed this vision and most importantly, because of those reasons the team is more likely to be
  • the team is committed to the vision and prepared to ensure it is implemented.

In his book, The Empowered Leader — Ten Keys to Servant Leadership, Calvin Miller has three important things to say about vision:

1. It’s Inherent Power
Its dynamic is the enthusiasm it infuses. The enthusiasm inspired by vision results in some kind of life product. Feelings of productivity increase your feelings of self-esteem, causing a healthy celebration of your usefulness to God and your world.

2. Where It Comes From
Christ is the fount of our best imagination and vision.

3. How You Hold On to It
When you have adequate quiet time before the altar of your own trust in God, visions will hold a strong place in your life.

The Seven Steps in Developing a Vision and Plan

1. Pray and reflect.

Time is well spent on prayer and reflection before any start on a collective vision. You want to be guided by the Holy Spirit. So take time to read and ask God to speak to you through His word. Take time to pray and commit yourselves and the work to Him. Ask for His vision to guide you. Ask Him where He wants you to go, what He wants you to do.

2. Plan

Contrary too many impressions, the usual route of developing a vision for a team or an organization lies along a path of planning and work. Very rarely do we suddenly wake up with some miraculous understanding of the way ahead and a team prepared to go enthusiastically on that path after a few inspiring words from their leader.

Planning is bringing
the future into the present,
so that you can
do something about it

3. Gather information

There are at least three main sources of information for you to use.

  • Information about the needs of women in your local community and in your local church. Your church may have conducted a survey within the last year or so; talk to your pastor and see what is available. Also discuss with him ideas about how Women’s Ministries may serve the local church and its women. It is quite possible that there are one or two areas of ministry he would like to develop that you could work on. (see the SPD Orientation booklet).
  • Information from Women’s Ministries itself. Around the world, Women’s Ministries groups are working in a variety of different ways. Investigate some of these, not only will they give you ideas but will also broaden your concept of Women’s Ministries.
  • Your team itself as a source of information. Before you have your first meeting, contact your team and ask them to start brainstorming.

4. Analyze and discuss values

When you have your first meeting it is helpful to develop a common basis for your approach to the work. Discuss the goals of Women’s Ministries; discuss what you as a team believe is important and what should guide your planning. For example:

  • In some more affluent areas, you might need to ensure that programs organized by you include women from poorer homes, that they are not made to feel unwelcome, or prevented from accessing a program (e.g. a breakfast, or a weekend retreat) because of costs.
  • In some areas there may be quite a number of separated or divorced women and the team in that area might specifically include ministering to this group in their plans. You may have a high number of young mothers in a “young suburb.” A ‘Welcome Baby Program’ might fit your values of ministering to those young women in your community.

This is the appropriate time to write down your mission statement. You might like to have members of your committee do this on their own at first and then share with the team. From this preparation work, a collective statement can be composed.

5. Analyze and discuss the information

Now that you have set your values which will guide your ministry, and a guiding statement which is your mission statement, it is time to examine the possibilities.

This is easily done via a brainstorm approach. Have each team member take a few minutes to silently consider the approach you wish to take, the possible activities, and then and write down their suggestions. Have a large sheet of paper or a blackboard and take turns to go around the team and write up the suggestions. An important feature of brainstorming is that the suggestions are made without judging them immediately. That way you get a global view of all the possibilities and are then able to make a more informed decision about what will be dealt with immediately and what will be left for later.

6. Prioritize

Give each team member five votes and have them place them alongside the suggestions as they see fit. That way the whole team has set its priorities for the year. As the leader it is your prerogative to advise and comment (particularly regarding difficulties you foresee such as financial) but be careful not to be negative or discouraging God may have some wonderful surprises for you as you step out in faith so don’t underestimate His power!

7. Consolidate an action plan

Begin by obtaining a church calendar (speak to your church pastor if you don’t have one) and also a regular calendar, which has school holidays, public holidays, etc. Use the prioritized suggestions and mark them in on your calendar. Do not attempt too many projects in the year. It is better to have a few successful projects than some failed, grandiose plans, which will accomplish nothing for women or the reputation of Women’s Ministries.

An important aspect of consolidation is the ability to keep the vision alive. You and your team must model, refer to your vision, talk about it, and constantly promulgate its existence and value.

About the author

Dr. Marion Shields is a senior lecturer in education at Avondale College of Higher Education in New South Wales, Australia. Her main teaching areas are special education and leadership at both undergraduate and post graduate level. She also dabbles in literacy and numeracy for pre-service teachers and earlier this year had a textbook published on this topic that is aimed towards those who struggle with these concepts. Currently she is researching the influences that change attitudes of pre-service teachers towards students with disabilities; and also leadership in Christian Early Childhood Centers.

(From the GCWM Leadership Certification Program, Level 1)

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"If you don't know where you're going, then you probably won't know when you get there." —Yogi Berra, 1963