Patch Adams Leadership Qualities

Introduction

The movie, Patch Adams, (Universal Studios, 1998) is based on the life a Dr. Patch Adams. A man who believes that “the most revolutionary act one can commit in our world is to be happy.” (from his biography on internationalspeakers.com.) Famous comedian, Robin Williams, plays the role very well. The film begins in a mental institution and follows Patch through a series of events which lead him to discover his vision for life – to help people. This in turn eventually brings him to medical school – the central focus of the film. During this time he spends many hours in the hospital working with patients on their health situations – this includes both medical and emotional needs. His desire to “treat the patient rather than just their condition” lands him in the direct line of fire of the dean of the school and in a climactic moment, Patch is vindicated by the school board in front of all the people who were closest to him – his classmates, school faculty, hospital nurses and patients, and many others. In the film Patch has a vision for a free hospital and in real life, we see that this vision has become true. He now serves as the founder and director of the Gesundheit Institute which has offered free medical care to over 15,000 people over the years. He combines his medical training and his experiences as a street clown to understand the relationship between laughter and therapy, and serves others by taking “clown tours” of hospitals and orphanages each year in Russia. (all personal information is from his biography on internationalspeakers.com) Patch is the kind of man that anyone and everyone can learn something from.

Patch is the epitome of good leadership. He was a man (1) with well-rounded character, (2) was good at making and keeping relationships with people, (3) had a vision for what his purpose was in becoming a doctor, and (4) had the skills to accomplish it. We will seek to demonstrate each of these qualities using scenes from the film. 

Character

If only one positive thing could be said of Patch Adams, it would have to be something concerning his character. A careful viewing of the film and study of his character reveals that it is almost impossible to find any kind of character flaws. Patch was pure in his intentions and he did not let anything get in the way of his drive for helping others. The only real character flaw in Patch was his blatant disregard for authority. However, what is interesting about this flaw is that it was always for the better. He broke the law or the rules of the school so that he could go and help people. As mentioned before, he did not let anything get in the way of his passion to help others. 

When first introduced to Patch, he is in a mental hospital – self-admitted because he had tried to commit suicide. While he was in the mental hospital, he was searching for help for himself but ended up helping others with their problems. He had a unique personality which allowed him to love others greatly, especially his roommate in the mental hospital. To help his roommate get over his fear, Patch acted like he was shooting all of the imaginary squirrels in the room so his friend could go to the restroom. By being real with his roommate and others in the mental hospital, he helped them with their problems and later in the movie, we see his roommate at Patch’s graduation from Medical School. What he did with his roommate had a lasting effect and Patch was passionate about helping others in the same way. It was in the mental hospital that he figured out what he was going to do (a vision) with his life. So, he went to Medical School.

Patch was an extremely diligent worker. He was one of the top in his class and yet it seemed like he hardly ever studied. He was always over at the hospital playing with the patients to improve their state of being. However, he told Carin that he had read the whole Biology book, which any college student knows is crazy. He obviously studied a lot since he was among the top in his class at the Medical College.

Another gold star on Patch’s character report is his honesty. When he told the Dr. at the mental hospital what he was going to do with his life and the Dr. defended himself by saying that is what he did, Patch told him outright that the Dr. sucked at it. Also, when Patch was accused of cheating by one of his classmates, he went straight to the student and confronted him about it. Patch told his classmate exactly what he thought of him and told him that in spite of the situation, he didn’t hate him. It might come as a shock that this extremely gentle and loving guy would have the boldness to be blatantly honest, but this extreme integrity and honest actually endears him to the audience. A couple of other confrontations within movie continue to do so.

Patch’s integrity is almost untouchable. His passion for his life was to help as many people as he could at any cost. That even meant buying a ranch house and opening it up to people who could not afford health care and could not be admitted into the hospital. He opened up his house to them and even had his friends help in building up this “free hospital”. He and his best friend in the college went around town looking for people who needed help and brought them back to the house to help them. Even with the threat of being kicked out of the college for “practicing medicine illegally without a license,” Patch stood his ground for what he was doing by explaining the operation of the free hospital. He was breaking the law technically, but Patch’s integrity, good grades, and “excessive happiness” had persuaded the College Board to allow him to stay in college. One of the biggest struggles and test of integrity for Patch was intertwined with this free hospital he was in charge of as the love of his life was murdered by one of the patients when she went to help him. He was ready to give it all up because this had happened. But in the end, he stayed with the hospital and stuck to his vision of helping people.

Relationships

In talking about the theme of this movie, it seems to involve looking at the simple view of humans and their emotions, instead of their ailments. In so doing, the movie expresses how people tend to produce defense mechanisms or even a cure to their ailments. No one else could have played this role as well as Robin Williams did. Not only was he very funny through out the movie, but he also captured the audience with the deep rooted problem that medical practice seems to miss. He touched people’s lives with his funny antics and his lively character, showing human concern and compassion; something not seen in the medical field in the movie. Patch Adams received his nickname (and identity) as “Patch” due to a moment where he patches another patient’s cup. He finds himself fighting an uphill battle as he faces different obstacles – including the dean of the university who tried to have him expelled from the school. Patch wins over most of his peers by his uncompromising faith in what he believed, and at the end he makes everyone a believer in his ideas.

Patch Adams is inspired to continue in this line of helping others as he did with the patient’s cup. His vision becomes clear to him due to the response he received from the patient and also of how he learned a principle that had been previously alien to him. He was shown how not to look at the problem but to look past the problem. The answer obviously is not the problem but beyond the scope of the problem. Interestingly, enough Patch begins pursuing his vision of helping people by going through medical school to become a doctor; he starts off being unpopular with the immediate crowd because of his vision and his non-conformity. Through many situations of treating patients with an uncanny effort of concern and compassion for them, he wins over the staff of the hospital and eventually his own colleagues. By going about and living up to his ideas and beliefs Patch succeeded in convincing others to believe in his views. Even the most adamant of his peers, finally breaks down and sees the value of his labor. The proof of his efforts makes the difference in the movie because people around him approve of his work.

Patch Adam’s represents the epitome of relational leadership. Patch exemplifies what leaders should first do before assuming a leadership role. Patch began by practicing his ideas in his view of treating patients. He modeled his vision and convinced people to believe in his ideas. His peers even began to join and help him with his techniques and succeed in demonstrating how his ideas were effective. His ideas involved sacrifice and time which was valuable to a student attending this university. Patch became a household name because of his charitable and compassionate disposition. He got to know many people on all levels of life; he listened to many people and helped them all. Even if the patient was beyond help of his or her aliment, Patch was committed to making their last days as comfortable as possible. Patch appreciated the simple things in life and this was reflected on his peers and coworkers.

Vision

In addition to his character and relationships, Patch is a great example of a leader due to his clear vision. This vision propelled him to accomplish much and fueled others to come along side him and join in these efforts. In his book Visioneering, Andy Stanley shares that vision is not just something that “could” be, but also something that “should” be. (Andy Stanley, Visioneering, pg 17, 1999, Multnomah Publishers, Inc.) Patch’s vision was no exception. While in a mental institution, Patch discovered both his vision and his identity. Another patient called
him “Patch” when he fixed his cup. With this new identity, and the realization that the doctors in the institution were incapable of helping others, his vision was born – to help people. Not only “could” people be helped, but in the situation that he found himself in, they “should” be helped. Something had to be done. This fueled everything within Patch. It motivated him to become a medical student,
but even more, to question the practices which had become the norm among
doctors.

Another experience helped him to solidify this vision. As described before Patch helped his roommate pee, by pretending to shoot some imaginary squirrels. It may have seemed like an insignificant accomplishment, but on the heels of his realization about his identity and vision, it was huge! It was the small success story that Patch needed to help him believe he could accomplish this vision of helping people. It was the very next morning that he began his journey to become a doctor by checking himself out of the mental institution.

Vision requires much more than just an idea about what could and should happen though. A true vision motivates one to go through trials. Patch gained an understanding from a character named Arthur Mendelsonn in another scene in the mental institution. Arthur, who has some clear psychopathic behaviors, is running through the ward holding up four fingers and asking people to tell him how many he is holding up. When they say “Four,” he gets upset with them and says that they all have small brains. In a tender moment after Arthur first calls him “Patch,” he explains that there are four when you look at the problem, but if you look past it to the solution, you see eight (each eye sees four). This concept is vital to understanding vision. Any vision worth striving for will come up against some opposition, and if we are able to look past the problem to the solution – to focus on the vision rather than the problem, we’ll be able to persevere and eventually succeed. There’s one particular scene where Patch is coming up against the dean of his medical school, where this proves to be true. Patch is able to see beyond the dean, to the vision of becoming a doctor.

One last incident in Patch’s life illustrates his quest/readiness for his vision – to help people. Patch has a strong imagination, and while eating in a little diner, he starts playing with the things on the table: a napkin dispenser, ketchup bottle, etc. He sees more than these items though. Patch sees a building, a “new kind of hospital.” Men of vision, like Patch, are able to see what others can’t see. They look through a lens of vision which allows them to notice things differently and apply situations to their vision that others would not have seen. Men of vision are consumed by their vision and so they’re always on the lookout for new or better ways to accomplish it.

Skills

For any leader, skills are a necessary thing to have in order to lead in the field in which they are a part of. Patch was skilled in many things, but his abilities in the area of study, medicine, and relationships are standouts. 

There were tensions in the movie between Patch and his classmates because of his ability to make time for his relationships and still be able to study the material thoroughly. His study habits were so good, that he was able to graduate near the top of his class. He, when talking with another student about studying, even mentioned that he had already read the entire biology book. His skills at being a good doctor/medical school student did not come easily, but as a result of hard work, and more than likely, frequent long nights without much sleep.

His excellent skills at being a medical student were shown in his grades, but as well as with the people he was able to treat. He treated his patients with laughter and love, but he also treated them with the knowledge he obtained at medical
school. His patients had an overwhelming recovery rate (though not clearly shown, it was implied in the movie) or improved level of living. His patients did not seem to doubt his ability to take care of them. He was able to identify a medical problem with relative ease, but was not afraid or ashamed to ask for help when he did not have a solution to a problem or if he did not know how to handle a situation he was in. When faced with the possibility of being dismissed from medical school due to “excessive joy,” he went to a person that would know exactly what would need to be done.

As mentioned before, when he was faced with the possibility of being forced out of medical school, he had to go in front of a school board for review. His actions were reviewed, but also his grades were under the microscope. These grades are a direct reflection of his skills or abilities to perform as a student and as a doctor. The board decided not to remove him from school, in part, because of his excellent grades. His grades were on a consistent basis near top of his entire class. If there was any doubt in his ability to be a good doctor, it could not have come from his grades.

One skill he had that many of the other students at the school lacked was the skill to communicate in a joyful way to people. The majority of his peers did not refer to patients by their names, but by their assigned bed or room. Just knowing someone’s name made the difference for his patients. He even went beyond that and got to know the person’s likes and dislikes. When he listened, he also remembered what was said to him.

These scenes help in understanding that this skill (memory, or heart-felt memory) is an amazing ability. Remembering such things as people’s desires comes as a result of hard work – it is intentional work. Patch excelled at remembering what people said. This helps any leader in building relationships with other people. When trying to gain the trust of followers, a leaders who remembers his follower’s visions and dreams, is more able to help them accomplish their personal goals while still being able to lead them to accomplish the vision for the
group. Patch did this with many of his patients. He helped them to fulfill some life-long dreams before they left this life.

Some skills, people are born with. Some would call these gifts rather than skills, but nonetheless, they help people accomplish their goals as leaders. Patch, whether born with it or if he worked for it, he certainly had the skill of listening. He talked quite a bit, but listening to the people Patch talked with, helped him lead. He may not have been able to read body language, but when people spoke, he was able to listen. He used this skill to aid his other skill of remembering other people’s desires. Patch had many other skills too: getting tasks accomplished, relationships, laughter, and others. His skills helped him lead in altering the medical field forever.

Conclusion

When it comes to leaders, it is difficult to find one that compares to Patch Adams. He had his faults like all leaders do, but his outstanding leadership qualities overshadow them in most situations. Patch was a leader with character that would impress angels. His developed deep relationships and through them was able to impact many lives. His vision to help people by offering free medical care was unheard of, but it was a vision that he was able to influence others to take part of. His skills in the medical profession were hard to match.

All of his leadership qualities were established through his personal pilgrimage through his life. He was able to discover his identity in helping others, what his integrity would be like because of the lack of integrity around him, his ability to be intimate through close relationships with people seen as outcasts, and his intensity to help others through their problems. He was a leader’s leader. His persona and enthusiasm was contagious. He never forgot his past, but always looked toward the future. He had a goal to not focus on problems, but to look past them in order to overcome them. Patch Adams – the leader’s leader in the medical world.

Visioneering

Introduction

“Visioneering” by Andy Stanley is intended to help Christians in understanding what he calls “God’s blueprint for developing and maintaining personal vision.” Andy, a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary, is the son of Charles Stanley and the founding pastor of North Point Community Church in Atlanta, Georgia. “Visioneering” is clearly a book about leadership, but he broadens his audience by making applications of the material, which can be used by anyone. Examples include having a vision for your children or your marriage – after all, we are all leaders to someone. He writes as if he were speaking – very down-to-earth and personal rather than the heady, scholarly style of so many others who have written on this subject. This style also encourages readers who might not normally pick up a book on leadership. A tag line used on the jacket says, “Everybody ends up somewhere in life. You can end up somewhere on purpose.” This paints a pretty solid picture of the content. Andy seems to be genuinely concerned about this topic and desires to help others to know the “power of purpose.”

Summary
“Visioneering” takes the reader through the story of the classic biblical example of leadership, Nehemiah. Along the way, Andy points to many of the biblical events drawing out all the applications to leadership and vision. Before diving into the biblical account, he spends a chapter defining vision. He defines it as a clear mental picture of what “could” be, fueled by the conviction that it “should” be. (pg 18) It is “Inspiration + Conviction + Action + Determination + Completion.” (pg 8) Vision, according to Andy, weaves four things into the fabric of our lives: Passion, Motivation, Direction, and Purpose. (pg 9-12) I will seek to summarize the content by using the “Building Blocks” which Andy describes in regards to vision.

Andy shows how a vision is born by pointing to Nehemiah. It began as a concern. (pg 19) Nehemiah was burdened by the report from Jerusalem. (1:4) It does not necessarily require immediate action, (pg 19) but in waiting, vision matures in us, we are prepared, and God is at work preparing the way. During this time Nehemiah prayed for opportunities and planned as if he expected God to answer his prayers. (pg 38) There was little, well, nothing that he could do to help the situation, but in waiting, praying and planning, he was not disappointed. In spite of overwhelming odds against him, God used Nehemiah’s circumstances to prepare him for his vision. (pg 43) It seemed impossible that Nehemiah could make any difference – he was in Persia serving in the king, serving the very people who tore the walls down in the first place. Even if he could get to Jerusalem, he had no authority and the people had ignored the walls for almost 150 years. Bottom line: It was a hopeless situation – in human terms. Of course if you add God into the mix, things change. Nehemiah understood this, and during this time of uncertainty, he remembered that “how is not a problem for God.” (pg 61) What God originates, he orchestrates. (pg 56) Eventually, God would take the very same circumstances to orchestrate the vision by changing the heart of the king so that he would provide safe passage, lumber, and supplies to Nehemiah. (2:4-8)

Even after such an incredible act of God, Nehemiah must have felt overcome when he rode into Jerusalem. This was not a vision he would be able to accomplish alone. Although, he had a plan and was ready, he didn’t immediately ride into town and start recruiting. He walked before he talked; investigated before he initiated. (pg 75) He waited for at least three days before saying anything. (2:12) There is usually some fact-finding or exploration that needs to be done before telling people what you’re up to. As soon as you start telling people, you’ve got to have the answers to the questions/criticisms that are bound to come. This type of exploration will either confirm or deny the divine origin of the original vision and it can help to further define it.

After such investigation, Nehemiah communicated his vision as solution to a problem that must be addressed immediately. (pg 86) He stated the problem, the solution, the reason, and the urgency. (2:17-18) He told the appropriate people at the appropriate time. (pg 105) Another reason he found so much success was that he had risked so much himself in the process. He had risked his very life by being sad in the king’s presence, quit a job in the palace, and traveled for miles to ask a foreign people to help in a project which had little chance of success. He didn’t expect others to take greater risks or sacrifices than he did. (pg 132) He wasn’t calling them to do anything that he wasn’t willing to do himself and they could see his commitment.

As the work begins, Nehemiah gets hit with criticism (Neh 4:3) and he provides a great example for us in the way he responds – prayer, remembrance, and revision. He unloads all his feelings on God and then goes back to work remembering what God had done and how he had provided for him throughout the process. (4:14) He also responded strategically by setting up a guard (4:9). He trusted God, but still did everything he could to help accomplish the vision. Nehemiah didn’t confuse his plans with God’s vision. (pg 156) This is why he was able to revise the plan so easily. The plan is only man’s interpretation of how to accomplish the vision. When man’s plan fails, it doesn’t mean that the divine vision has failed, only that the plan was somehow flawed. Visions are refined – they don’t change; plans are revised – they rarely stay the same. (pg 158) Like Nehemiah we should respond to criticism with prayer, remembrance, and if necessary, a revision of the plan. (pg 160)

It’s vital to keep a team unified in order to accomplish a vision. Visions thrive in an environment of unity and die in an environment of division. (pg 68) It’s natural for a team to struggle in this way. Like a car’s alignment, normal wear and tear over time or a bad bump can cause problems. Many of the wall workers had neglected their own fields in order to work on the wall and when forced to mortgage their homes to provide food for their families, they began to resent the entire project. (5:1-5) Meanwhile, some of the nobles and city officials were profiting from it. Nehemiah called them to account (5:6-7) and unity was restored. The workers were able to focus on the wall once again. He also understood that his own moral authority was critical to his leadership and therefore to the vision. His position as governor gave him the right to exploit the people and to live “high on the hog” but he chose not to do so. (5:14-19) Nehemiah’s moral authority was not just a leadership requirement, but was a natural extension of his relationship with God. Stanley suggests that we abandon the vision before abandoning out moral authority. (pg 185) This was a no-brainer for Nehemiah.

Distractions come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes good opportunities can distract us from our vision. Other times it comes as criticism or fear. Nehemiah didn’t get distracted (pg 216) when he was accused of trying to set himself up as king (6:5-6), but rather turned his attention to God. (6:9) When given the opportunity to meet with some other leaders, Nehemiah explained that he was “doing a good work and couldn’t come down.” (6:2-4) Even in the midst of a death threat, Nehemiah remained calm and held his ground knowing that this was God’s vision. (6:12-13) It’s clear that he would not be distracted – Nehemiah had a singular focus – to rebuild the walls and position Israel for blessing once again.

Stanley points out that Nehemiah also understood that this vision was a part of God’s vision. There is divine potential in all you envision to do. (pg 225) Nehemiah’s vision, when accomplished, struck fear into surrounding nations and they were able to see the power and presence of Israel’s God. Because of God’s intervention, Nehemiah’s crew did what some said was impossible, and they did it in only 52 days! (6:15-16) God gets the glory! He orchestrated and moved on the people to rebuild the walls and re-establish Israel’s relationship with Him. The end of a God-ordained vision is God. (pg 237) When the wall was built and the people assembled to celebrate, (8:1-6) the focus is God. The wall is never mentioned. Only God is lifted up!!

After the wall was built, it had to be maintained. Nehemiah understood that once the vision was accomplished, it must be nurtured in order to stand, and so the people developed a written covenant between themselves and God. (9:38; 10:28-39) (Isn’t it interesting that the vision was about the walls and the maintenance of it is about their relationship with God?) This covenant would require great sacrifice for the people and centered around the main reasons they had been at odds with God in the first place – their relationship with foreigners, their Sabbath practices, and care for the temple. Maintaining a vision requires adherence to a set of core beliefs and behaviors. (pg252) It also requires constant attention. (pg 216) Nehemiah failed on this one. He left Jerusalem in order to return to the king in Persia and while he was gone, things went south. When he finally returned, he found that the temple had not been a priority, the Sabbath had become just another workday, men were marrying foreigners, and children were being taught foreign traditions instead of their family Hebrew customs. (13:10-24) Angered by what he saw, Nehemiah acted boldly by rebuking the city officials and even threatening merchants who tried to work around the Sabbath with bodily harm. (13:20-21) Maintaining a vision requires bold leadership. (pg 266) A leader cannot be timid and must have “tough skin” to persevere.

Critique
“Visioneering” is a great book! Andy Stanley handles the content well and very thoroughly. For the reader who is completely new to the idea of vision, this book will provide a nice basic structure for the visioning process. Andy also explains the need for vision and the effects of a lack of vision in regards to every area of our lives. This is a great benefit. The businessman seeking new direction for his company can benefit as well as the mother seeking to raise her child in Godly ways. Andy seems to be very calculated about his doctrine. He maintains high Scriptural content throughout the book, backing up everything with Scripture – even basing each of his premises off of the basic outline found in Nehemiah. This structure, based on Scripture, is one of the books most profound qualities. The reader isn’t made to feel like he is reading Andy’s opinions about vision, but instead he is allowed to sit in on his personal thoughts about the Scriptural truths found in Nehemiah. The focus is the Scripture rather than the thoughts of man.

Opinion
I personally enjoyed this book immensely and believe it will help to guide me through many of my future ministry endeavors. I found it interesting that we have been taught the difference between leadership and management is the difference between future change and maintenance, but Andy actually uses the word “maintain” in regards to vision. I believe this is an important distinction because so many times, it seems that people accomplish a task and then they are finished, but in order for the vision (ultimate goal) to be accomplished, the task/project has to be maintained. Example: Someone gives his or her life to Christ. Their friend who has seen this as his/her mission/vision quits praying for and working with them. They never grow spiritually. Was the vision to see them give their life to Christ only? Or was it to see them develop an ever-increasing intimacy with Him? If it’s the second, then there clearly is a bit of “maintenance” to be done. Maybe the problem is that we confuse the vision path/goal or symbol with the actual vision. The bottom line lesson for me is that leaders have to be concerned about management too.

In regards to this book, I will recommend it to anyone interested in leadership and the vision process. We have struggled immensely in my own church with these issues and I plan on suggesting this material to quite a few people. I also intend on teaching a Bible Study which goes through Nehemiah. In doing so, I will refer to many of these principles, drawing them out for my students.

Air Attack or Ground War?

I was listening to a Mark Driscoll sermon last night where he was talking about a church’s “air attack” and “ground war.” He defined the “Air Attack” as the sermon, worship, newsletters, websites, etc – ministries that you just throw out there and hope they land on someone. Of course the “Ground War” was just the opposite. It’s the Bible Studies, service projects, discipleship times. accountability groups, etc where there is a specific target. He talked about how some churches are really good at the “Air Attack” and they have lots of people coming through the doors every Sunday, but they don’t really get discipled, while others focus on the “Ground War” and people grow spiritually and connect with each other, but never have any new people join the church. The church that is healthy of course – has both. They are reaching people with an all-out air and ground assault!

I like the image. What kind of church can fortify such an all-out assault? In the heat of battle, when you start to get tired, how do we remain faithful in taking ground for the kingdom? Where do you find these kinds of Christian soldiers? Or how do you train them? How do you find a rhythm/pace for doing both the “Air Attack” and “Ground War?”

Casting Vision

We watched a John Maxwell presentation about “How to Cast a Vision” in school the other night. Here are the notes I took:

1. Clarity bring understanding to vision.
2. Connectedness brings past, present, and future together.
3. Purpose brings direction to a vision.
4. Goals bring target to a vision.
5. Honesty brings integrity to the vision and credibility to the leader.
6. Stories bring relationships to the vision.
7. Challenge brings stretching to the vision.
8. Passion and Conviction are fuel for the vision.
9. Repositioning brings change to a vision.
10. Urgency brings intensity to a vision.
11. Modeling brings accountability to a vision.
12. Strategy brings a process to vision.
In addition, in casting a vision one should share his heart, paint a picture of hope in it’s accomplishment, ask for help, and explain how to help.

There were also some great little quotes he used. Here are a few:

People won’t reach into the future until they’ve touched the past.

Winners stretch to vision, whiners shrink from it.

When challenged, winners say, “Sick-em” and whiners feel sick.

Nothing of value happens in a church until a line is drawn.

When the heat goes up there are two reactions. Whiners leave. Winners become more passionate. If you’re vision is of God and you lose them, you never really had them in the first place. Passion fires up committed and fries the uncommitted.

Those who pay the most for a vision celebrate the most in it’s accomplishment.

Vision is caught more than taught.

Vision = Cause + Courage

The gift a leader gives a congregation is a vision. The gift they give him is it’s fulfillment.

God will send the resources needed according to the size of your vision. The size of a vision is determined by the size of our questions.

People change at three different times: (1) When they hurt enough they have to (2) When they learn enough they want to, and (3) When they receive enough they’re empowered to.

Vision must be seen clearly, spoken of continuously, and communicated creatively.

All this is to say, I really like John Maxwell. Some of his stuff seems really over simplified, but in regards to concepts – probably the simpler the better.

Another aspect which I think is important that he didn’t mention is the biblical foundation for a vision. The example he used (Bill Hybels) was filled with biblical references, but Maxwell mentions nothing of it. In communicating a vision, it seems to me that people are more likely to get behind it if they understand that it is not the leader’s vision, but it is from God.

As the leader, our job is only to point out that which God is among us and already doing so that people can join Him in His efforts. This is how we align ourselves with His vision. If people are able to see how God has already begun a work, (as in Nehemiah 2:18 when he explains to them all that God had done to get things rolling.) it shortens the leap of faith required to just a step of faith.

Maybe we as leaders should spend more time talking about what we already see God doing!?!?

Imaginuity

About 17 years ago, I went to the National Youth Workers Convention for the first time. It was in San Francisco that year. Anyway, while I was there, I went to a workshop on creativity by a guy named Craig McNair Wilson. It was the “Imaginuity” Workshop. Anyway, many of his ideas have really stuck with me throughout the years. His main idea is that Imagination is a great thing, but it falls short of creativity in the sense that imagination stays in the head. He combined the two words to come up with “imaginuity” which he described as “imagination” with “creativity” infused. It’s about making imaginary things happen. In my own words “imaginuity” is “imagination with wings.”

Anyway, I was reminded of all these ideas when I was reading Andy Stanley’s book Visioneering today. I’ve already posted about the difference between a dreamer and a visionary (visionaries imagine themselves getting things done, dreamers just dream). “Imaginuity” is another way of speaking about vision because it too motivates one to do something. McNair Wilson worked for Disney at one time and was called an “Imagineer” – that’s a pretty good term for a visionary too.

Anyway, these were just some thoughts I had today about vision.

I’ll try to pull out my notes from that first convention to see what else I can remember about his “imaginuity” ideas. Maybe I’ll even order the video with his teachings on the subject.


I’ll finish this post with a quote from McNair Wilson. (It has nothing to do with vision or creativity, but it’s still good.)

“If you don’t do you, you doesn’t get done and the world is incomplete. Do what you do best. Do that a lot.”

No Vision

My homework in school is asking us to come up with a vision statement for a ministry I’m involved in or will be starting in the future. I know that God has called me to be a part of a church plant someday – I know He wants us to reach lost people – I know He would want a healthy body of believers who truly loved each other and had their priorities straight. But what exactly will that look like? or how it will take shape in a particular context? Man, I dunno? How can you write a vision before you know the context of that vision? I can write a clear mission statement, but that’s supposed to be much broader. I don’t know – I’m just struggling right now. I guess I’ll just get some things down for the class and then as God reveals more to me, I can narrow the focus.

Patch Adams Leadership

Patch Adams is a great example of leadership. He is determined to chase the dream/vision of helping people. When he fixed a cup and was called “Patch,” he realized he could help people. This identity gave him the confidence to chase after this vision and propelled him into all kinds of circumstances. He thought outside the box that medical school gave him and challenged everything he was taught in regards to professional distance. He learned to look beyond a problem to it’s solution from a man in a mental hospital and imagined a new kind of hospital by playing with a napkin dispenser and ketchup bottle. Vision and new ideas just flowed out of him because he was always on the lookout for them. These things were more than just ideas though – or as Andy Stanley would put it  – they were more than dreams that “could” be, they were visions that “should” be. And Patch was the kind of guy who  really worked to make them happen. He was also good at relationships – people wanted to be around him – They could get behind his vision for helping people because they trusted him so much.

Patch is a leader. He was a man of character and skills, who was good at relationships and had a vision that they could get behind.

Church Leadership

Since I’ve been studying leadership, I’ve been paying a little more attention to how things are done at my own church. Our church is no different from any other Methodist church in that their main leadership roles are positions which are held for no more than three years – most are only 1 year positions. This is intended to keep things fresh – to keep from getting into a rut that you can’t get out of. But I’m wondering what we’re also missing out on? What are the benefits of leadership which is consistent and enduring?

It seems to me that many of the things a new leader may want to implement, especially big changes, take a little while to get going. And then in order to see those changes succeed, there will need to be a time of working with the change – you know give it a chance to make a difference. When a position is only a short time, it’s tough to endure this type of transition. As soon as things get going in the right direction – someone else (who may have the same passion as the original leader – or more often than not, someone who is frustrated by change and wants things back the way they were.) will come along and change it all up again.

I wonder if the Methodist system is actually hindering the work that needs to happen in the church? Of course in another system, it could go the other way – you could get stuck with a leader for a long time who isn’t doing anything at all or is happy with status quo. Where is the balance? How do you structure a church so that it’s healthy in regards to leadership? Are there other things which could be done to ensure proper Godly tenure of a leader? Scripturally, we see God raise up leaders for specific tasks and eras – I’ve gotta believe that’s still true today, and that He works in and through and around our systems, but I’m wondering if we’ve come to trust our systems so much that we’ve forgotten to be sensitive to God Himself when it comes to our leaders.

Student Leadership

We’re doing a short little series on leadership with the students in our church and so I’ve been teaching some of the things I’m learning in class. It’s been fun ’cause some of them are really into it. They’ve got lots of good questions.

We also started a group this week for those who want deeper studies. They’ve all said their willing to do homework in developing their relationship with God. Anyway, we had our first meeting and talked about the vision I have for the group. We also discussed what materials to use, and they want more of the leadership stuff too. It’s exciting to think what God is gonna do with this. I believe this group can and will be leaders in the church of the future, and so this opportunity is really exciting! To be a part of developing the leaders of the future – it’s kind of overwhelming to think about.

Thank you God for letting me be a part of it. Help me to follow You through the whole process. AMEN.

Dreamers and Visionaries

In his book Visioneering, Andy Stanley makes a clear distinction between these two.

“Dreamers dream about the world being different, but visionaries envision themselves making a difference. Dreamers think about how nice it would be for something to be done. Visionaries look for an opportunity to do something.”

I wanna be a visionary. He goes on to describe the situations which led to his church plant. It seemed like the furthest thing from happening, but he prepared himself anyway, and did what he could so that when the opportunity arose, he’d be ready. He also points out that Nehemiah did the same, when the circumstances didn’t allow him to move on his vision, he prayed. He did all he could when he could do it and prayed for opportunities to come.

If I wanna be a visionary, and God really is calling me to a church plant, maybe I should be working on drawing up a vision statements, outlines for a church structure/government, bylaws, and requirements/benefits of church membership. That way, when God gives me an opportunity, I’ll be ready. I’m sure I won’t be able to get it right, but at least there’ll be something to work with – some place to start. Maybe this is kinda like the old statement about faith – “If you pray for rain, you better leave the house with an umbrella.”

I’ve decided. I’m going to start working on these things and studying how others have done it.