I had one of those epiphany-type experiences the other day, but first I have to give you some background information to help it make sense. I have better vision than my wife does. In this case, when I say vision I mean literal eyesight. I didn’t understand this at first and used to get rather frustrated with her at times (I’m sorry!) when I could see something that she couldn’t. I just assumed she wasn’t paying attention to the same things I was.
The reality of how odd I am when it comes to vision really hit home this week when I went to my every-two-year eye exam. Not only do I have great vision without correction, I have what is known as 20/10 vision. That means whatever the average person can see from 10 feet away, I can actually see from 20 feet away. I’m super human when it comes to vision! The thing is, I didn’t know that what I experienced was any more than what everyone else saw. In the years before GPS systems helped me navigate to unknown locations, I remember very clearly (no pun intended) getting upset with my wife when she couldn’t read the street signs from the same distance I could. By the time she could read the sign to tell me when to turn, I’d already passed it.
Having better vision than others is a real burden!
Now for the metaphor. This is for all of my fellow preacher types and others that are trying to lead from the second chair. Having better vision is a burden. Other people can’t see things as clearly as you can, and it frustrates you. Things that seem so obvious and so clear to you take others much longer to warm up to. The ‘right’ answer for the church or organization is simple to you, but others seem to struggle with it or get distracted by unimportant things. It’s frustrating and down right aggravating. I know, I’ve been there.
But I’ll tell you what the solution ISN’T. The solution isn’t to get upset at them because they don’t see things the way you do. Similar to eyesight, leadership vision is not something that people can will themselves to improve on. It’s a trait that must be developed over time with willingness and a desire to see more clearly. If you REALLY want to discourage someone from taking the necessary risks to see more clearly, just go ahead and get frustrated with them that they can’t see. That will help. That’s sarcasm, by the way.
Having better vision than others is a real burden. It is a burden on multiple levels. First, it is a burden to adjust your pace to match that of those who can’t see as well. When my wife gave me directions while I drove, I had to slow down to give her more time to see the signs. It took longer, but it was much safer that I keep my eyes on the road and let her read the street signs. That brings us to the second burden. It is a burden to keep your eyes on the things that are important while others squint and blink and try to get their vision into focus. It feels like busy-work… or perhaps like you’ve given leadership up to people who can’t see as clearly as you can. What you’re really doing, though, is allowing them to come along for the ride. It’s community building at it’s finest. You keep the car on the road while others practice seeing. The final burden that we’ll talk about is the burden of caring for the other person while you deal with seeing better than them. In comparison to your superior vision, their average vision is a disability. You have a responsibility to make sure that they reach their destination safely and happily. Any other arrival is a failure… no matter how good of time you make.