Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Partial Birth Abortion of a Vision

Recently I was taking my elders through a leadership program that John Maxwell’s group Equip has produced for churches. We came to a point where we were discussing how vision is birthed in the church.

Maxwell likens casting vision like giving birth. When a married couple decides it time to start a family they try to get pregnant (well actually the wife). Sometimes all it takes is one “try” and the pregnancy happens. Other times it takes multiple tries. Vision is like that. Sometimes it comes with little or no effort other times it is very hard work.

Staying with this analogy, each pregnancy is different. My wife and I had two daughters. When she was pregnant with our first daughter she had a very smooth pregnancy. But with our second daughter my wife was sick all nine months. The gestation period for birthing a vision can also vary from vision to vision. Sometimes things go so smooth with the launching of a vision that one wonders why they don’t do it every day. Other times the vision seems to cause great distress in the body that is trying to bring it to term.

Perhaps the darkest time for a vision is again similar to the actual birth process. Sometimes it is smooth and there is little pain. Other times labor is intense and the pain is unimaginable. But after the birth, the mother might not forget the pain of the birth process but the outcome is worth pain. It’s the same with visions. After the birth pangs the results are so much more important than the spasms that it caused.

The other interesting thing about visions after they have come to fruition is that once the pain has ended all sorts of people want to enjoy the results after the hard work is done.

I guess this reaction is normal. It seems that very few are involved in the normal birth process but the grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends all come pouring out of the woodwork after wanting to enjoy the results. It seems that the best thing to do in these instances is to welcome them to the vision and put them to work.

But what happens when we abort the process? What happens when we decide to quit before the vision is fully birthed? We experience a partial birth abortion. During my twenty-plus years of ministry, I’ve witnessed those seminal moments where the birth of the vision is either achieved or aborted in mid-birth. I remember some ministries where the vision was birthed and all of the struggles to bring the vision to fruition were forgotten for the joy of the vision being fulfilled. In other ministries the vision was aborted after going through almost the entire gestation process only to be aborted during the determining moment when everything is balanced on a razor’s edge. Defeat snatched from the jaws of success because we were unwilling to stay the course.

When we have sought God and his plan for us we decide it’s just too hard to trust the Lord and we decide we will rely on the failed ways of the past.

7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
Psalm 20:7 (NIV)

1 Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses, who trust in the multitude of their chariots and in the great strength of their horsemen, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel, or seek help from the Lord.
Isaiah 31:1 (NIV)

Trusting in the name of the Lord our God

Pastor Val


Anonymous said...

Interesting post but I struggle with the comparison. A baby is a baby it is a baby from the beginning.

A vision starts in a the mind of a single person, or maybe a group, but must be bought into and understood by the masses. It is either accepted or rejected. Hitler had a vision. It was rightfully rejected in the end.

Babies, if not aborted, are destined by the Creator to become babies. Visions are not. Visions only reach viability when the people who need to see them in order for them to become viable, can be made to see them. Thus I believe visions are more rightfully never accepted to begin with, not aborted before they are achieved.

AncientFuture Mariner said...

Dear Anonymous

Thanks for reading my blog and for participating in the ongoing conversation. My view on vision differs from yours because I start with the premise that for a follower of Christ God is the author of vision not man. Another word for vision is plan or perhaps even will (Although that might be a bit strong since I believe in the sovereignty of God and the ultimate accomplishment of God’s will here on earth much like it is in heaven.)

As I see vision develop, as described in the above blog, Godly men seek God for the vision that God has for a place or people. Therefore it is God who gives the vision just as it is God who decides when, where, how and to whom a baby will be born. Once it is conceived it is shared with those around who either accept the news and reality of the vision working to bring it to fruition or choose to ignore, disown and/or work to abort the vision.

Starting with this premise one can see how closely the two are related. On the other hand if you start with a humanistic point of view you potentially abort or corrupt a vision. When a vision has been cooped and twisted by humanistic thought you do end up with not only someone like Hitler, but also Stalin, Pol Pot or even worse. Consider East Timor, Guatemala, Yugoslavia, and Rwanda, each of these countries combined extremist ideology with ethnic animosity and a diabolical disregard for human life to produce repression, misery, and murder on a massive scale.

So while I appreciate your comments I have to throw your baby out with the bathwater (so to speak).

Pastor Val