The Leader as Catalyst – Part 9: Enlighten
Enlighten: Tell people what the Father is doing – and wants to do.
In this first, vital step in leading others through change, the two catalytic leadership elements come into play, namely Envisioner and Expositor. Remember, the Envisioner is the role of “seeing the Way,” and the part of Expositor is that of “interpret the Way.” Let’s take a look at how these two functions of a catalytic leader can help facilitate others embracing a change in behaviors and lifestyle, which allows them to align with God’s intention.
Painting the Picture
As I have said before, leadership is influence. The purpose of that influence is to lead people out towards the preferred Kingdom purpose that the Lord has for them individually but also collectively, as an integrated part of a local church. To actually enact behaviors and take action that moves them towards that future, they must see a picture of it that motivates them. Remember, vision can be thought of as the picture of the preferred future God desires for His people, in both being and doing. It’s holistic and integrated, a “both/and” of the character and nature of their life together in Christ, as well as their engagement in Christ’s mission of Kingdom extension. In the role of the Envisioner, the pastoral leader of a church is the primary vision carrier, painting that picture of what the Father’s dream for His people looks like. This is a vital aspect of leading people through the needed change. To align with the Father’s will, people must first see the target they are trying to hit. They must see the way, the path they must follow to His beautiful and meaningful future. As the Envisioner and Expositor you enlighten people to God’s plan, helping them to align themselves with it.
However, for someone to follow you towards that beautiful future, you must see it first. Then you must capture it to communicate it. As I said before, vision must be both received and shared to be effective. We see this in Habakkuk 2:2-3:
And the Lord answered me:
“Write the vision;
make it plain on tablets,
so he may run who reads it.
For still the vision awaits its appointed time;
it hastens to the end—it will not lie.
If it seems slow, wait for it;
it will surely come; it will not delay.”
Remember, God’s vision of the future and His story of the past must be brought into the present process of leading His people in Christ. The work you have done in developing both haggadah and halacha, of belief and spiritual practices, is the foundation of your appeal to those you lead. In his book Leading Change, John Kotter notes that people must see a better future than their current reality to embrace the needed change required to reach that future. He indicates that this creates a “painful sense of urgency,” which provides the necessary emotional motivation to move towards the future.
The picture of the future must be folded into everything you do, everything you say. The image of the future is the WHY we do what we do; everything is in pursuit of the Kingdom of God. Preaching, teaching, planning, and budgeting are elements that must be driven by vision.
Explaining What the Picture Means
When I was in college way back in the day, I had to take a class on art history, which I loved. But truthfully, when we got to was termed “modern art,” I just didn’t get it. I could look at a painting, a sculpture, some architecture born out of the modernist framework, and I could never find the meaning the artist intended. Now, I know that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” but I just didn’t get it. I always had to have someone explain it to me. And quite often, as the visionary leader, even though you think God’s preferred future is bright and glorious, most folks just won’t get it. They will need it to be explained to them. Sometimes over and over again. And again. And again. Constant vision casting is a fundamental part of leading people out towards God’s preferred Kingdom reality.
Faith, Hope, and Resilience
For people to endure through anything, they must have the hope of a better future than what they are currently experiencing. For people to accept change, they must have faith that what lies beyond is better than what they are presently experiencing. They have hope because of that faith in a better tomorrow, and therefore, can embrace and endure through the change. This is what resilience is, the ability to bear up under a significant burden. We see this in many passages in Scripture, with this passage from Hebrews being notable:
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.
By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (Hebrews 11:1-6)
These heroes of the faith endured what they did through a hope for a better future, one rooted in God Himself. It was the object of their faith – God Himself – which empowered them to resiliently endure the hardships they faced. In processing, people must hope that the future is better than the “now,” and it is through vision that we can enlighten them to the hope they have in Christ. Such encouragement was what Jeremiah shared with Israel in exile when he spoke of God’s intention for them:
“For thus says the LORD: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile (Jeremiah 29:10-14).
For the community of Israel to survive the 70-year exile ahead, they would need to have the resilience to embrace and persist through such a difficult time. They had to know that there was a “future and a hope,” one that was good, better than the evil they had suffered. As the Envisioner, your role as vision-caster enlightens people to the Kingdom future God intends for them. In this, people can embrace the needed changes required to facilitate the coming Kingdom reality. As the Envisioner and Expositor you impart hope through vision and foster resilience required for the journey. This is how you enlighten.
In the next post, we will look at the second aspect of leading change: Encourage.