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Vision, Direction, Leaders and Followers

By Steve Cartin, MDiv | August 15, 2017

by Steve Cartin, MDiv

Vision and direction catches my eye. It captures my heart and mind. I recently reflected on some notes I made in my Bible many years ago. Forty years, six churches and scores of dental practices later, I see even more clearly that “the grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever” (Isaiah 40:8, ESV). It rules over the landscape of human experience in all ages, all times, all endeavors.

Years ago I read Luke 9:51: “...when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem” (NKJV).

The moment was at hand. Jesus had just descended from the Mount of Transfiguration with Peter, James and John where He had spoken with Moses and Elijah about the coming cross (Luke 9:31). The greatest work ever accomplished was about to take place. The disciples argued over who would be team leaders (Luke 9:46). James and John threatened to eliminate anyone who opposed the progress (Luke 9:52-54). But Jesus had His eye fixed on the goal (Luke 9:51, 53) and would not be dissuaded. Do not miss the spiritual impact of this powerful latter half of Luke 9. Through these unfolding events we see an eternal principle: Accomplishing anything significant for the glory of God requires razor-sharp focus on the vision He has given you, regardless of the distractions around you.

Interpret this for leading your own team, practice or organization. When it looks like something great is really taking place, squabbles will arise over who gets the credit, the pay raise or the new title. Pride will swell up in the hearts of others. Jesus would not be dissuaded. Neither should you. Those who accomplish the eternal must keep moving toward the goal.

Mark records these days with a unique perspective: “Now they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was going before them; and they were amazed. And as they followed they were afraid...” (Mark 10:32, NKJV).

The smudged note in my Bible’s margin from long ago says, “The fascination and fear of following Jesus.” With Jesus out front, some were amazed. Others were afraid as they followed. Is it not the same in our walk with the Lord? But how much our commitment to Him grows as we walk the path of supernatural provision!

You’re not Jesus. You get that. But you are leading a team, some of whom are really excited about where you are going. They may not have yet considered all that it means. Their excitement or their ability to focus on the goal may falter as did Peter’s. Some may be uneasy and fearful of the changes ahead. All of them will need appropriate nurturing along the way. Do not lose them. While they may be replaced, the passion you have for your patients and practice will not burn as brightly in them as it does with those who followed every step of the way. But let’s be fair. Jesus had staffing issues Himself. He lost one. However, the man who replaced Judas—Matthias in Acts 1:26—was never heard from again in the unfolding drama of worldwide redemption.

As best I can tell, Jesus only set two goals: the cross and the world. Those who led the charge into the world with the gospel of salvation did so, having followed Jesus to the cross and witnessed the resurrection. The impact of losing team members as you follow the vision God has put into your heart cannot be overstated. The impact of retaining them cannot be exaggerated. Jesus developed a team that was willing to lay down their lives for Him. All of them but John did—even he suffered exile and hardship for the Lord. Would you like to have a team that will lay down its life for you?

The secret is this: You have to go first.

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