3 Warnings Signs of Vision Dissonance

Harvard business professor John Kotter has stated, “Behavior from important people that is inconsistent with the vision overwhelms other forms of communication.”

If Kotter is right, and I believe he is, then a leader whose life does not match the vision being articulated nullifies the vision message, the website, the brochures, and the catchy slogans. Really, all those things are a waste of time, rhetoric, and money if leaders do not live what they are asking others to live. Communication is a waste of time if leaders do not live the vision they are communicating.

What are some warning signs that your life is drifting from the vision you are articulating?

1. No personal illustrations

Your life is speaking much louder than your words. If you have given those you lead “values we live by” or “a mission we are pursuing” but you have no personal illustrations about how you are living those values or pursuing that mission, then you are not personally consumed with the direction you want others to be consumed with.

2. No recent personal illustrations

Perhaps you have illustrations, but they are really old ones. Be warned, it does not look like the vision is compelling you today. Example: If you are a church leader who keeps painting the vision of biblical community but the illustration you keep going back to is from 11 years ago, then you are not living your own message today.

3. Frustrated with your own culture

Brad Waggoner, the executive vice president at LifeWay, once told a group of seminary students, “If you have been leading in a context for several years and you don’t like the culture, the culture is likely a reflection of your leadership.” The leaders, for better or worse, impact the culture of the teams they lead. If you are frustrated with your own culture, ask yourself, “What are the people I serve seeing in me?”

A leader whose life does not match the articulated vision fails the credibility test. Leaders, be sure you own what you are asking others to own.

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Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger serves as the Vice President of the Church Resource Division at LifeWay Christian Resources. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. He is also a teaching pastor and a frequent speaker and consultant on church mission and strategy. Eric authored or co-authored several books including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, playing with his daughters, and shooting basketball.

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Recent Comments
I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
— winston
In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
— Russ Wright
"While I understand the intent behind this phrase" Expound please. What do you understand to be the intent behind that phrase?
— Ken

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