Spiritual leaders see differently. I think one of the most important attributes of a spiritual leader is the ability to see. They see things others don’t because they have what I’m calling leader-vision. Jesus saw things differently. He saw the world differently. He saw life differently. He certainly saw God differently. Even people that don’t believe he’s Lord agree that he saw things differently. Jesus attributed this to only doing what he saw his Father doing.
When I was in college I worked as a custodian for JC Penny, sweeping and mopping floors, vacuuming carpets, cleaning restrooms and making sure that there were no fingerprints on the mirrors. I had a supervisor who saw the smudges I missed on the mirrors. He spotted the gum I failed to scrap off the floors and carpets. He’d find the out-of-sight places under the counters I’d failed to sweep and he’d point out the hidden areas of carpet I neglected vacuum. He was always seeing things I didn’t because he had “custodian-vision”. I’ve found that something like this is true of spiritual leaders. They see things differently because they have “leader-vision”.
One of John Wimber’s (the founder of the Vineyard) most instructive questions for emerging leaders was, “What did you see?” His question forced us to describe what we saw and develop careful observation, a crucial element in leader-vision. But a spiritual leader’s window into the world involves more than that. It is both natural sight and spiritual insight. This insight is called discernment. It’s more than inspired intuition. It’s the Spirit’s gift of seeing what God sees. Leader-vision develops over time, with prayer, training, experience and reliance on the Holy Spirit.
So, with this in mind here’s my list of what a spiritual leader sees:
- First and foremost, a spiritual leader sees things the way God sees them.
- A spiritual leader sees what the Father is doing in a situation.
- A spiritual leader sees the big picture by seeing past irrelevant details.
- A spiritual leader sees possibilities and opportunities rather than just problems.
- A spiritual leader sees things that are missing.
- A spiritual leader sees how things can be better.
- A spiritual leader sees hidden potential in people that others don’t.
- A spiritual leader helps others to see.
- Most importantly spiritual leaders act on what they see.
I think Leroy Eims, Christian leader and author, best summed up leader-vision when he wrote, “A leader is one who sees more than others see, who sees farther than others see, and who sees before others see.”