Vision vs. Forecast
It is always important for leaders to be focused, but it seems even more vital in the type of year we have been experiencing. I can’t think of a time in recent history when there have been more distractions and upheaval, and it has been challenging for spiritual leaders to help believers stay steady and on course.
When it comes to our “seeing” and perception, we must know the difference between vision and forecast. Let’s define our terms:
Vision: As I’m using the term, vision refers to a spiritual or mental perception that God has given. Vision is a clear, compelling picture of a preferable future. It translates into our sense of mission, of what we are endeavoring to accomplish.
Forecast: A forecast is circumstantial and frequently changes (think of the weather). It is a projection of what will likely happen, while a vision speaks of what can and should happen.
After the flood, God made some declarations of what He saw happening in the future. He said, “As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest…” (Genesis 8:22, NLT). This was God’s will. He envisioned and declared it to be so
Solomon recognized, though, that this “vision” God articulated could be neglected because of a bad “forecast.” Consider Ecclesiastes 11:4 in the following translations:
“He who observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap” (NKJV).
“Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest” (NLT).
“Don’t sit there watching the wind. Do your own work. Don’t stare at the clouds. Get on with your life” (MSG).
Forecasts may be right or not, but vision is to be fulfilled regardless. I wonder how many believers in these days have loosened their grip on the vision they had for their lives because they’ve been intimidated by so many bad forecasts.
When I say that we cannot surrender our vision, that does not mean that we deny the reality of bad forecasts (some may be true even though many are exaggerated and never happen). The Bible even gives us some forecasts that are, but we don’t relinquish our vision because of them.
Here is an example from Paul’s instructions to Timothy where both vision and forecast are addressed.
2 Timothy 4:1-2
1 I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: 2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.
Everything just described relates to vision—to what ministers are supposed to do. But then Paul shifted to the forecast—what was going to happen circumstantial.
2 Timothy 4:3-4
3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.
Notice that the forecast did not nullify the vision. Paul went on to reiterate the urgency of Timothy’s assignment in the very next verse.
2 Timothy 4:5
5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
When God gives a forecast, it is accurate and is designed to prepare us, not scare us. The grace God gives us to (a) be watchful, (b) endure afflictions, (c) do the work of an evangelist, and (d) fulfill our ministry will be more than enough. Don’t let a forecast keep you from applying yourself wholeheartedly to your vision.
By the way, when Paul tells Timothy to fulfill his ministry, this means that Timothy was to completely fulfill every aspect of his ministry and not to leave anything undone.
All of us have had to make certain modifications this year (2020) and we haven’t necessarily appreciated some of the hassles and hindrances we’ve encountered. Remember that Paul referred three times to dealing with hindrances in his own ministry (Romans 1:13; 15:22; 1 Thessalonians 2:18). However, the vision that fueled his perseverance was always greater than any forecast he faced.