Vision is a critical ingredient in any success — especially that of a true Christian. Here are several important aspects of vision.
In 1803 U.S. President Thornas Jefferson proved he was a leader with vision. With tremendous foresight, he saw the value of making the agreement that has become known as the Louisiana Purchase. The Louisiana territory included the city of New Orleans and the area west of the Mississippi River, extending to the eastern spurs of the Rocky Mountains and to the British frontier of the north. Acquired from France for $15 million, the Louisiana area nearly doubled the size of U.S. territorial holdings. Opponents said the purchase price was too much to spend on such a territory. There were those who complained that the people who lived in the area had strange customs, and that Americans would have difficulty getting along with them. And what use would all that land ever be, anyway, they asked. President Jefferson was able to look beyond the apparent obstacles and see the future potential of this transaction. And history has certainly vindicated his decision! From our vantage point we all have to agree that the Louisiana Purchase was the finest act of Jefferson's term as President of the United States. It takes vision to be a true success as the president of a nation, or in any other leadership role. It also takes vision to be a success as a human being. Wise King Solomon understood this fact. He said, "Where there is no vision, the people perish" (Prov. 29:18, Authorized Version). As God's people we need to understand the importance of having vision in our lives. So let's take a good look at vision. In fact, let's take a new look at vision.
Hindsight is the ability to look back and learn from the past. It has been said that history repeats itself. That's because people don't learn the lessons of previous mistakes. For example, consider marriage failures. A young man or woman marries only to find that he or she has nothing in common with the spouse. Their personalities clash violently, and the union dissolves. Yet those very people will, many times, go on to marry other people who are similar to their previous spouses. Or take employment. Some people have perpetual difficulty holding on to a job. They constantly bounce from one job to the next. It is easy to write such a situation off as "bad luck" or another "unfair" boss. But such people would do better to ask themselves what they have done to contribute to the situation. Did they slack off? Were they continually late or always leaving early? How easy was it for others to get along with them? Paul tells us that we must look at the past and gain from those experiences. Of the activities of ancient Israel, he says, "Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted" (I Cor. 10:6). The message is clear. Not only can you look at your own past and learn, but you can look at the lives of other human beings and gain significantly. Look at past mistakes — yours or others — see what brought them about, and don't repeat them.
As the old proverb says, sometimes we are "so close to the trees that we can't see the forest." It's important to get the big picture in any situation. That's what overview is. Gather as much information as possible. See how an event in your life fits into the overall purpose of your existence. Base your view on God's master plan as revealed in the Bible. Base all of the decisions you make on God's law. This is difficult to do. When faced with a crisis or an important decision, it's easy to be highly emotional and, as a result, not very objective. In this situation counsel can be of great value. Solomon said, "Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety" (Prov. 11:14). If you are faced with a decision involving, for example, the purchase of a used car, it would be best not to rely entirely on the counsel given by the used-car salesman. Acquire additional information. Ask a qualified automobile mechanic to inspect the vehicle for you. Solomon adds one more pearl of wisdom to the subject when he said, "The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he who heeds counsel is wise" (Prov. 12:15). There is a temptation to ignore counsel you may have received because it wasn't what you wanted to hear — it wasn't what you wanted to do about a situation. But don't ignore counsel, because it will help you gain an overview of a situation.
Insight is the capacity to get to the crux of the matter. It involves cutting through the fog — setting aside all peripheral matters and going to the heart of a situation. God's Holy Spirit gives true Christians insight into how life should be lived. A young man of considerable means once came to Christ and asked, "What good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?" (Matt. 19:16). Jesus could have waxed eloquent — given endless lists of dos and don'ts. But Christ cut straight to the core of the matter. He went to the trunk of the tree and answered, "If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments" (verse 17). Christ stated unequivocally that obedience to God is the focal point of true Christianity. It is the way that leads to everlasting life. The young man's response is interesting: "All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?" (verse 20). He really did not comprehend the magnitude of what Christ was telling him. This became more evident from what happened next (verses 21-22). God Almighty was not the only true God in this man's life. Wealth had become his god, and he was unable to part with it to become Christ's disciple. Wealth had obscured his vision. He had no insight.
Foresight is the ability to look ahead, to anticipate. Christ admonished His followers, "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you" (Matt. 6:33). Christ said God's Kingdom and God's righteousness should be paramount in all our lives. The Bible record shows that those who focused their lives on God's Kingdom were the true successes. We are told, for instance, how Abraham "waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God" (Heb. 11:10). Luke 23, describing what happened just after the brutal torture and hideous death of Jesus, gives us the striking example of Joseph of Arimathea. Verses 50 and 51 tell us Joseph was "a good and just man... who himself was also waiting for the kingdom of God." This Joseph made arrangements for Jesus' burial while everyone else, including the apostles, was completely shaken. When most of Jesus' intimate friends had fled, Joseph of Arimathea maintained a dignified calm. He had an understanding of the purpose and plan of God. He had foresight. So also did all the great champions of God, from Abel to the prophets and on down to the present. You can read about many of these heroes in Hebrews 11. They all had vision and faith. You, too, can have this kind of confidence — this assurance. If you have not read Pastor General Herbert W. Armstrong's book The Incredible Human Potential or the booklet Why Were You Born?. Vision is extremely important in the lives of all human beings, and especially right now in the lives of Christians. Whether it be hindsight, overview, insight or foresight, without these key ingredients of vision, there can be no lasting success.