Leaders as vision communicators

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Bible School Business School (BSBS), our special monthly series, takes insights from the Bible and applies these to business, leadership and personal development.

Column by Brett Chulu

This week the spotlight is on Jesus and His leadership methods in building and communicating a grand vision.

A careful analysis of Jesus’s three and half year earthly ministry shows four stages in building and communicating His vision. These stages can be summed up by 4Ps—peeling, proclamation, preparation and production.

To understand concepts embedded in the 4Ps we need to attune our thinking to the mode of Ancient Hebrew logic. Ancient Hebrew logic differs markedly from Western thinking.

Western logic is largely of the ABC type. By ABC logic is meant the sequencing of an argument in the form of an introduction, followed by the main body and finally the conclusion. Ancient Hebrew argumentation is of the ABA genus.

In the ABA genre of logic, the conclusion is located at the centre, with the argument systematically building towards its central message, followed by tracing in reverse order the argument, with additional details in some instances. Technically speaking, this type of logic is called chiasm.

In building and communicating His vision, Jesus did not begin with a proclamation—He began by peeling in small segments the elements of His vision.

Peeling
Before proclaiming the Great Commission, Jesus had to work on the multiple perceptions and personalities of his disciples. He needed three and half years to correct wrong perceptions and work on his disciples’ personalities. He peeled away misconceptions while at the same time gradually peeling the elements of his vision and mission. For instance, Peter was a quick-mouthed and unschooled fisherman.

As he recruited Peter, Jesus couched his calling in terms of his grand vision, mission and strategy, using the language Peter was familiar with. To Peter and his brother Andrew, Jesus entreated: “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” (Mark 1:17, NKJV). Interesting—this is the very kernel of the strategy Jesus would articulate in the Great Commission.

Jesus’s disciples had erroneous pre-conceived ideas as to the nature and purpose of Jesus’s mission. They thought Jesus was there to establish a political kingdom and would lead them in a liberation war to gain independence from the Romans.

Thus when the disciples witnessed Jesus performing miracles such as feeding over 5 000 people from five loaves and two fish, they would brim with confidence thinking Jesus would successfully lead a revolution against foreign occupation. This also fed another misconception. The disciples thought they would occupy powerful positions in the new political dispensation. Thus the disciples would spend time arguing on who would deputise Jesus in the new political dispensation.

To correct these misperceptions about the nature of His mission, Jesus would employ both practical events and parables. Jesus would often heal people outside the Jewish circles, to undo the misperception that Jesus’s kingdom would be exclusive to Jewish kinship. Jesus would teach his disciples about servant-leadership. Towards the sunset of his earthly ministry, Jesus had his disciples embarrassed when he washed their feet—a task reserved for servants. Jesus would often be heard telling his disciples that his kingdom was not of this world.

It is after this gradual peeling of His vision, mission and strategy that Jesus made the Great Commission proclamation.

Proclamation
Jesus’s imposing vision, mission and strategy are captured in Matthew 28: 18-20 (NKJV): “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

Amen.” A key point to consider is that Jesus did not begin by proclaiming this vision-mission-strategy. The concise and forthright proclamation captured in the preceding verses was the culmination of a very patient effort of building towards this grand vision-mission-strategy over three and half years. This vision-mission-strategy statement is now famously known as the Great Commission.

Three qualities making up Jesus’s Great Commission can be isolated.
First, Jesus melded his vision, mission and strategy into a seamless message. His mission was clear: Make disciples and induct them into the principles of My kingdom. His vision, too, was crystal clear: Principled disciples in all nations of the earth. His strategy was equally clear and deceptively simple: Become a disciple and get more disciples.

Second, Jesus articulated His mission in operational terms. He did not put up an artificial wall between strategy-formulation and strategy-execution. His mission was couched in operational terms. Mission was action. Jesus’s disciples didn’t have to wonder what needed to be done: Make disciples, ground them in the organisational (Kingdom) culture and equip new disciples to actively participate in the discipling and principle-teaching cycle.

Third, Jesus used simple everyday language to articulate His strategy. He could have talked of the pillars of the strategy being evangelism, discipleship and global growth. Instead, He chose to articulate these in action terms.

Even Simon Peter, the unsophisticated and unlettered fisherman from Galilee would understand strategy as clearly as the erudite Judas, the learned Doctor Luke and the financially savvy Matthew.
If you would ask Simon Peter what the strategy was, he would most probably tell you: “We make disciples and ask them to do the same”. This statement is a modest summary of the exponential law of growth. Technically, that’s how the disciples would extend the principles taught by Jesus to the entire world as envisaged by the Great Commission.

Jesus simplified this strategy into terms understood by all. No jaw-breaking jargon. Why can’t you do the same?When you combine vision, mission and strategy you have a commission. It becomes a co-mission in which the mission is owned by all and commitment to it is from all.

Communicating vision, mission and strategy should involve repetition of key messages using communication vehicles such as stories and common events as teaching points.

Chulu is a strategic HR consultant who has worked with both listed and unlisted companies. — brettchulu@consultant.com.

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