After David had secured his throne, stabilized his kingdom, and defeated his enemies, he dreamt of building a temple to honor the Lord. He shared his idea with Nathan the prophet who affirmed David’s vision. That night God intervened and changed his plans. (2 Samuel 7:1-17)

This brief story captures three legitimate ways visions emerge. There are times when a leader casts a vision all on his or her own. Other times, a leader collaborates with wise counselors to refine and clarify a vision. And sometimes God intervenes and directly commands His plans.


Leaders often develop plans in what appears to be a vacuum. They process input and dream dreams in isolation. But that’s not surprising; leaders are expected to make decisions that will impact the future. They think of ways that life could be better and consider what it might take to accomplish their dreams.


Leaders don’t always develop dreams in isolation. A wise leader may share his or her vision with others to refine and clarify the dream. Interaction, dialogue and discussion with a trusted friend, wise counselor, or group of colleagues can complete and clarify the vision. David used Nathan as a sounding board to affirm his vision.


Individuals, or even cadres of planners, never have the final say. At times God intervenes into the planning process and gives specific instructions. Sometimes He introduces an entirely new idea; but often, as in the case of David’s temple plans, He reshapes and reconstitutes an existing vision.

God can and will accomplish His purpose, but part of His grand plan is to grow leaders who will cast vision and initiate change.

So, where does vision come from?

What is the source of our hopes and plans?

Vision generally emerges at the intersection of: 1) our personal strength, 2) the needs that we encounter, and 3) the available resources.


All of us have strengths, interests, skills, giftedness, experiences and desires. Some of us are comfortable in large groups; others in small intimate situations. Some of us like cello and others like trombone. Some of us have learned in formal settings and others in the school of hard-knocks. Some people possess a constellation of gifts and abilities that is very different from the way God has designed others. Leaders use their God-given Interests and Strengths to lead and cast vision in a very personal style. Vision usually emerges from an area of aptitude or strength that a leader enjoys or easily employs.


The world is full of external Needs and Opportunities. Needs that should be addressed are all around us: homelessness, illiteracy, violence, joblessness, disease, famine and a host of other maladies call for a leader’s attention. Likewise, Opportunities to enhance and enrich our world attract leaders’ interests. art, science, leadership development, life-skills training, business growth, sports and recreation, and many other external prospects. The more that we become aware of the world around us, the more we identify Needs and Opportunities that become the fertile soil in which our visions grow.