What happens when you lose vision? When you lose track of what is going on? When you take your eyes off of Jesus? What do you do? Where do you turn? How do we direct our seasons of sprints to link together to look like the marathon of life? There aren't many things more inspiring to me than church leaders who have been doing the stuff for long periods of time. The kind of leaders that have an impressive number in front of their marriage longevity only to counter it with a couple more years in ministry. I hope to be on the list of leaders that doesn't get jaded by the challenges of the everyday grind. Someone who doesn’t burn out, but instead presses into the heart of Jesus in every moment. I want to be someone who has steadfastness is so deeply rooted in me, that there is an energizer bunny-like persona in how I interact with the ups and downs of ministry.
That being said, I'm three years into this journey of “ministry,” where I am a leader in the local church. Each day, things shift. Being in the heart business is challenging because people change, theologies shift, today’s truth was yesterday’s torment. Sanctification, doubt, grief, hardship, joy, love are just a few of the conversations people in ministry run into minutes apart from one another. Loving people is hard, but it is worth it
When walking through all of these wonderful gifts, there is one thing to turn to, and that is Jesus. However, there isn’t just one way to turn your heart back towards the one who gives reason for everything. Everything someone does comes drenched in strategy, intentionality or both.
Strategy: a plan of action or policy designed to achieve a major or overall aim. God is a very strategic Father. When reflecting on Old Testament scripture, we can see His strategy in action. Looking at the whole gospel story through covenant theology can help us recognize how point to point Abba truly was. As we read through Paul’s writings in the New Testament, we see that the book of Acts unpacks specific, strategic ways to approach people groups. Paul sought out individuals, with the help of Holy Sprit, who would help create peace and relational equity in various nations. There is strategy in Kingdom work.
Intentionality: the fact of being deliberate or purposive. Likewise, we can see the details and intentionality with which the Father helps guide us. Looking at the intricacy with which He meets individuals and groups. Knowing when to come in power and when to come in the form of a baby. In Acts, “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.” Acts 4:32. God pointed to intentionality and togetherness. Community has been intentionally intertwined throughout all of time! Along with love and adoration.
Engaging with the Father means receiving His heart, where both intentionality and strategy are given in abundance. When our scales begin to tip to one side or the other we either lose vision (too much intentionality, not enough strategy) or purpose (to much strategy, not enough intentionality). There is a beautiful balance that happen between the two: Strategic Intentionality. This is how the Lord balances His reign and rule over us. He loves us relationally through strategic plans and intentional ways only we can receive. Strategy deals with the plan. Intentionality deals with making the plan work. It is important to cast the vision strategically and move towards it intentionally.
When we lose vision, we are strategy drained. We ask “What are we doing again?” often times feeling disconnected. We don’t know where our vision went, therefore strategy has stopped being implemented. Asking the Father to reinvigorate your strategy is not only something that He will do, but he does well. Look at Moses as an example. The Lord had to keep breathing vision into Moses. God had to keep reminding him of the goal, the promised land. Or consider the prophecy of Jesus. Throughout the course of His ministry, he would continually point at what was to happen. He would proclaim what is to come, casting a vision for tomorrow. Even though the disciples didn't catch the vision until they experienced it, Jesus never lost heart! He continued to press on strategically and shed light on His vision!
Purpose is something that is fed through intentionality. When we stop being intentional, we lose the why! Our hearts become disengaged because we lean so heavily on the what, that we neglect our purpose for our actions. Jesus is our purpose. He guides us, leads us, teaches us, shows us, and loves us into every second of the why. When we lose Jesus, we lose everything. Losing purpose, is taking the Jesus out of everything. Neglecting intentionality makes our actions robotic and exact. We miss out on the fact that we are human beings and not human doings. We aren’t saved by what we do. We are saved by being the Lord’s. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9. Purpose is a gift called grace. Intentionality gives grace a playground to transform people through love and encountering believers.
Engaging this balance beam mean pressing into your relationship with Jesus. Don’t evaluate yourself, because your brokenness can often times beat you up. Instead, approach the throne of grace and ask all of the questions you learn in grade school: who, what, where, when, why, and how! Bring the questions alongside scripture. Bring them to your community. Process through these things. Walking with strategic intentionality means walking with a heart prepared to let Jesus set the pace. It allows you to be okay when the what is “rest” because we realize that we are being strategic by receiving what we need and intentional by loving ourselves. It allows us to put responsibility where it needs to be, on Jesus. It helps us to have a bigger picture of loving people well.
If the Father would have neglected either of these attributes, we would miss out on the intricate beauty that marries itself to the huge overarching gospel. Our hearts would feel empty, and our futures would feel worthless. Check in with the Maker to walk through what you may be neglecting in your life.