Several years ago, I had the opportunity along with a few other college students to interview Andy Stanley, pastor of North Point Community Church in Atlanta, GA. If you know me real well, you know that I am a huge Andy Stanley fan, so having this opportunity to sit in a small room with him and ask him any question I wanted was probably one of the most thrilling and rewarding moments of my life. He made this statement I will never forget, “Be Stubborn with your Vision, but be Flexible with your Plans.” We as young leaders have a lot of big dreams, cool ideas and vision for the future. But, then there comes that other thing….The Plan to make it happen.
The plan is needed so you can communicate to your family, friends and potential partners on “Where” and “How” your going to pull your vision into reality. Vision communicates “The What” and “The Why” that drives “the How.” New ventures involve risk and more so with an unstable economy these days. When things don’t go according to plan, it doesn’t necessarily mean your vision is wrong or inaccurate for your life, it just means you need shift your plans, not your vision.
Let’s say, God gave you a vision to start a Children’s home project in Africa. And, you needed to raise the first phase of funding of $50K from US supporters. And, lets say you were only able to raise $20K before the deadline. So, what do you do then? You still need another $30K. At this stage of the game, I’ve seen people begin to question God’s vision to continue with the journey, because things didn’t go according to plan. Some would even say, maybe God is trying to teach me something. Yea, like how to adjust and change your fundraising strategy, not your vision.
God will give us the wisdom and insight to fulfill His vision that He birthed in our hearts. This is where dependence on God comes in. It’s His vision to begin with, which means it will take His wisdom to orchestrate the plans to get it done. Just because the plans aren’t working out, doesn’t mean the vision isn’t from God. God will use these times to strengthen His wisdom and resilience inside of you. Be stubborn with your vision, but be flexible with your plans. Which means sometimes you will have to change your plans many times until your vision becomes a reality.
Thomas Edison had a vision to invent the light bulb. But it took him over 1,000 different plans to finally make it work. If Thomas had any modern and mediocre church friends around him back in the 1800’s, somebody would have probably come by his house and say, “Thomas, what do you think God is trying to tell you? Maybe the light bulb isn’t working because there is some sin in your life or maybe you’re not supposed to invent the light bulb.” I can totally hear some Christians today saying that to Thomas if he were alive today. But, I love his response to his critics.
“I haven’t failed 1,ooo times. I have successfully discovered 1,000 ways (or plans) on how not to make a light bulb.” – Thomas Edison.
Whatever God has called you to do,you must Be stubborn with your vision, but flexible with your plans. We must burn this principle inside our skulls.