Recently I ate dinner at a restaurant overlooking one of our nation’s cities. The cityscape at dusk was beautiful, particularly as the setting sun created a kaleidoscope of designs that reflected off the glass into the water. But there was something wrong. The reflection of the colors in the water was beautiful but the architecture of the buildings was drab at the very best. There was no uniqueness nor substance. All was metal and glass. The city planners had failed to provide a vision for their city, leaving little or no aesthetic appreciation for the beholder.
In his excellent book, Visionary Leadership, Robert Dilts asks what has happened to visionary leadership today. He gives examples of situations in which “visionary leadership is missing,” questioning whether such leadership is a thing of the past:
“Where are the leaders who could dream great dreams–of national railways to link a nation, of national parks to preserve nature for posterity . . . of a life of prosperity for all willing to work for it? In the place of visions that inspire hope, there is only the quick fix: a tax cut here, a corporate bailout there . . . most often nothing but empty words . . . that make a mockery of the very real need for visionary leadership” (p. 6-7).
As Christians, we recognize that “visions that inspire hope” often come after trial and hardship. Romans 5 promises that “suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame” (Romans 5:3b-4a). If you want a vision of hope, be prepared for a rough journey–but rest assured that the end will not disappoint.