The Freedom To Follow Your Vision

Every leader has been there: that moment of connection with the leader of another ministry, whether it is in person or on social media, and the great success of their ministry hits you like a ton of bricks. Their staff is hip and always energetic about the ministry. Their social media is consistently on-brand. Their various programs seem to reach out in so many directions that it’s like one giant ministry octopus. And you start to wonder… “Should we be doing ministry like that? What might God achieve through my ministry if I patterned our vision and our programming after those guys? After all, look at the success their having and all the people they’re reaching!”

My husband Josh and I have been the Directors of the Casa Shalom Orphanage in Guatemala since 2010 and missionaries to that country since 2008. The ministries to which I compare our organizations aren’t megachurches in town, the up –and-coming church down the street or even that cool new fair trade store. We’re part of a community of privately-run, faith-based orphanages in our area of Guatemala. Some are big and some are small, but most of them are doing amazing ministry! In comparison, what Casa Shalom is doing can at time seem like small potatoes. Yes, with God’s blessing and the help of donors from around the world, we’re taking in babies and boys and girls from the streets and rescuing them from horrible, desperate situations of abuse and neglect. We provide them with an education, health care, Christ-based counseling and job-skills training. And we introduce them to Jesus, and raise them to be Christ-following young men and women who will one day revolutionize their country from the inside out.

But we have colleagues who are taking in 13-year- old moms and their babies into their orphanages. Others are running incredible community outreach programs out of their orphanages, programs that offer micro-loans and housing for needy families and others that take in juvenile criminal offenders and offer them a second chance. And if I’m not careful, it’s easy to veer off course from the vision God has given my husband and me for Casa Shalom. As Andy Stanley says in his book Visioneering, “People without clear vision are easily distracted, have a tendency to drift from one idea to another and often make foolish decisions that rob them of their dreams.”

God has clearly communicated to us the vision and mission He has for our ministry. And in order to avoid that dreaded “vision drift” it is vital to remain focused on that vision He has planted deep our hearts. Other orphanages have amazing programs and plans that are on point with the vision He has given their leaders. But we refuse to be so dazzled by someone else’s success that we abandon our God-given vision to chase someone else’s!

Pastor, leader, business owner: I encourage you to do the same. Yes, there is certainly wisdom to be gleaned from success of others. But there’s no wisdom in pursuing a vision that isn’t yours!

Jessica Hanson and her husband Josh are the Directors of the Casa Shalom Orphanage in Guatemala, where 100 boys and girls of all ages are being raised in a holistic, loving environment. The Hansons have been missionaries to Guatemala since 2008 and Directors of the orphanage since 2010. They have two children, Sophia, 6, and Judah, 3.