A key piece to leadership is the ability to cast vision. Casting vision is taking your objective and sharing it in a way that allows people to join in. No two people will cast vision the same way, but you can judge a tree by its fruits. If the people you are leading are working effectively, moving in one direction, and are being fulfilled by their involvement, you are casting vision successfully.
When I was on staff with YoungLife, we would have a yearly retreat. It was a great time to get together, build community, celebrate what God had done the previous year, and plan for the next year. My Local Area Director, Jeannette would host us at her cabin, and we would have a great time. One year, I was sitting with people from different teams who had been to this retreat multiple times. Jeannette and a couple people were setting out a buffet style lunch for the staff. One of my friends leaned over to me a made the joke, “Are you excited to hear Jeannette’s vison for the lunch?”. We both laughed. Every year, right before we started coming up with our goals and strategies for next year’s ministries, Jeannette would set out lunch, gather us around, we would pray, and then Jeannette would say, “Ok, here’s the vision for lunch.” She would explain that on this side of the counter you start with your bread, she would list the options. Then she would move on to the fillings, explaining what vegetables and spreads were available. Next it was meats; Jeannette would let us know what meats had been laid out and give us suggestions of the best combos. Jeannette would then explain the sides, we could choose chips, salads, or whatever other tasty side that was prepared. Once we understood the set-up, Jeannette would throw in a curveball, she would let us know that we can toast our sandwich, or we could even get wild and use the hot gridle to make a grilled cheese. Lastly, Jeannette would give us our drink options and let us go on to make our lunches.
Looking back on these lunches I realized that how Jeannette guided us in our sandwich making process was how a great leader lead. The first thing we did was pray, as leaders we must always pray. Then Jeannette would go before us and lay out all the tools we needed to be successful. What most didn’t realize is that Jeannette had to go out of her way to get all of the supplies we needed to have a successful lunch. She did the groundwork before we even got to the event. Once the team had everything they needed to be a success, Jeannette would explain the tools. She never made a creative decision for us, rather she explained what was laid out and gave some helpful suggestions. The most important thing that Jeannette did through the whole process was enjoy people’s creativity. No two sandwiches were the same and looking back I think that was the point. The perfect sandwich for me was significantly different than what would satisfy someone else. While we were eating Jeannette would visit each table and ask about their lunch, people would share what they made and then the conversations would open up. It seems silly but giving the team the ability to be creative opened up relational avenues.
As the scope of my leadership responsibilities grew, I tried very hard to figure out what made the people I looked up to successful. When I left Young Life in 2017, we had 12 separate ministries and most of them had a different head leader. Being then Jeannette’s associate area director, I got an inside look at how she had grown the ministry. Jeannette ran every ministry just like she ran her lunches. She did the prep work, setting the teams up for success. Then she explained all the resources that were at their disposal. Jeannette would always share the experience that she had accumulated over the years, but she was quick to encourage new ideas. Lastly Jeannette would support the teams while they went out and executed. A key to Jeannette’s leadership was that she set a wide vision that allowed her teams to stay in the boundaries she set without feeling micromanaged.
When Jeannette reads this, I expect her to have a good laugh, but If I don’t mention this next part, I would be doing her a disservice. Nothing that any leader can do apart from God will have any lasting effect on his Kingdom. Jeannette is a master at setting vision, and its wonderful, but the real key to her leadership is her life verse. John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”