For a team to be effective, its members must share both long-term vision and short-term goals that genuinely represent the will of God for the organization. When this is in place, the team can move ahead with a common working approach.
The blessing of God abides upon a team that functions in unity (Ps. 133). Heart unity is only possible when the team members genuinely share a common vision. It is not sufficient for members to possess strong visions for their own individual ministries; they must first be committed to a common team vision. When team members are more committed to the advancement of their own personal agendas than they are to the shared team-vision, they undermine the team’s power.
Without a shared vision there is no foundation, motivation, direction, or focus for the team. It is simply a working group of individuals whose energies are all directed towards their individual roles and responsibilities. But with a common vision there are many benefits.
Common vision builds strength.
Without a clear vision people are weak. They meander in life, wandering from this to that, with no passion, no motivation, no conviction and no strength. However, when there is a strong and clear vision in a team, the members are disciplined and focused. They work together with energy and unity.
I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. (1 Cor. 1:10)
Paul is not only writing about unity of doctrine here, but also unity of vision. When we have a common vision, we enjoy harmony, peace, oneness of mind and high levels of responsibility, commitment and morale.
Common vision reduces frustration.
There are both negative and positive sides to vision. Our long-term vision tells us not only what we should do, but also what we should not do. Therefore, we can focus on and accomplish what we are called to do, leaving the rest to whoever is called to do it and avoiding the frustration and burnout that inevitably accompany the attempt to “do it all.”
Jesus is our perfect Example here. He did not merely do “good things,” but He focused on doing only what He knew was His Father’s will. Many times this meant ignoring opportunities for ministry (e.g., Mark 1:36-39) but Jesus did so without guilt because He was committed to doing only His Father’s will (John 8:29).
Common vision generates cooperation.
True teams possess cooperation and integration so that all the various aspects and facets work together instead of competing against each other. With common vision, a team will operate in harmony instead of as separate, isolated identities with different (often conflicting) agendas.
Common vision creates concentration.
The light of the sun will warm the surface of a dry leaf that is on the ground. But if you focus that light through a magnifying glass you will set the leaf on fire. And if you use a laser beam, you can cut through a block of steel.
As we focus our energies – individually and as a church – we will have considerably more energy and a greater impact. Paul (Phil. 3:13-14) and Jesus (Is. 50:6-7) were both focused on the purposes of God:
The more we allow our energies to be diffused, the less success we will have in fulfilling God’s will. It is better to be excellent at a few things than mediocre at many. Thus, a common vision creates concentration.
Common vision helps resolve conflict.
The shared vision becomes a meaningful standard against which to resolve clashes between the interests of the individual and the interests of the team. Armed with team purpose, everyone on the team knows when an individual may be getting out of line and must put the team first or risk breaking it apart.
Common vision assists evaluation.
How do we evaluate our lives and our ministries? We certainly do not do it by comparing ourselves with others. We should evaluate our lives by asking:
- What has God called us to do? What is our vision?
- How well are we accomplishing our vision?
Of course, honest evaluation is only possible when we have first established a clear vision. From all the above, it is evident that genuine teams are not easy to build or maintain. There is a high cost involved in teams, but taking the time to develop common vision, common goals, and a common working approach will be highly rewarding.