Proverbs 29.18 says, “When people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild. But whoever obeys the law is joyful” (NLT). The old King James Version says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Vision – divine guidance, at its root – is key to church life, and especially to the leaders of the church. In this series, where we’re focusing on what it takes to be a ruling elder, we had a conversation with Donna Marchand, one of the elders on the Session, and looked at the story of the Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15.1-21 over the course of this message:
Many, many thanks to those of you who have prayed for me and the team with whom I travelled to minister to the staff, faculty and students of the South Asia Institute of Advanced Christian Studies in Bangalore, India, these past few weeks. We have been blessed in many ways, and we hope we have been a blessing. God has ignited a fire in the community there to give personal spiritual formation a greater role in the life of the school. If we accomplished nothing else, that would be enough – though we did find that many men and women found themselves spiritually nurtured through our ministry of spiritual direction and sharing the Word in chapel services and small groups. We were honoured to be so warmly welcomed by everyone there.
What is especially exciting is that the key administrators of SAIACS now have a vision to see the foundational principles of spiritual formation more intentionally integrated into the academic life of the community. There is a vision that the Lord has given, and the leadership there is prepared to do what it takes to make that vision a reality.
The news this week reported that Queen Beatrix, the reigning monarch of the Netherlands, is going to abdicate her throne in favour of her eldest son, who will become king. Her mother did this for her, as did her mother before her. This shows such a clear sense of vision on the part of the Queen! She could hang on until she dies, and she’d have every right to do so. But she wants a new generation of citizens of her country to be inspired through the leadership of a younger monarch.
As I’ve said before – not originally – having vision is like planting a tree under whose shade you will not sit. And sometimes, that vision requires sacrifice. In the case of the Queen of the Netherlands, it’s abdication of a throne rightfully hers. In the case of the administration of SAIACS, it’s stepping outside a comfort zone of pure academics – knowing about God – in order to encourage everyone to know God better.
What vision has God given you? And what sacrifices will you have to make in order to see that vision come to fruition?
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good ,pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12.2, NIV).