I remember sitting with the leaders of our church trying to figure out the difference between the vision for our church and the mission for our church. I shouldn’t admit this, because it will reveal how slow I can be, but I really didn’t understand the difference between a mission and a vision. They seemed like the same thing to me. We were working with a fantastic leadership consultant named Roger Dill from Jazz Consulting, who was helping us figure the whole thing out. Roger gave us the assignment to go off and read two important speeches from American history. One was JFK’s “moonshot speech” given in the early sixties, where the President established the audacious goal of putting a man on the moon by the end of the 60’s. The other speech was Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Roger asked us to figure out which speech was a mission statement and which speech was a vision statement. After reading both speeches I finally figured it out. A mission is the main goal, and a vision is the picture of why you are pursuing that goal. JFK’s speech was clearly a mission and Dr. King’s speech was clearly a vision of a future America that did not, and still does not fully exist.
Dr. King helped me understand the power of a vision, in how it could paint a captivating picture of what could be. Dr. King once hummed the words; “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’ I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character . . . I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.” Dr. King’s visionary words fit right into place with Jesus’ – the King of Kings – ultimate vision for His world which is nothing less than the renewal of all things (Rev. 21:5).
Thank you Dr. King for reminding me of Jesus’ renewing and healing vision for this very broken world!