Martin Luther, William Carey, John Wesley, Martin Luther King Jr.Mother Teresa. These well-known historical characters lived centuries apart in three continents, but share one thing in common: they were History makers – that is, their actions changed history by changing the personal story of countless people.

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They Left a Mark

To borrow the words of another visionary,  Steve Jobs, these individuals “put a dent in the universe,” leaving a recognizable mark in the world, the Protestant movement, “Methodism,” Civil Rights, and an awareness of the plight of the poorest.

Another important commonality between these and other history makers, famous or not, is that each had a vision, “a mental image of a preferable future,” that was given to them by God, sometimes in dramatic ways.

How about You?

We often think of these as extraordinary men and women, yet they were all ordinary people who were led and empowered by God to do extraordinary things. The “extraordinary” part came from God, from the vision He laid in their hearts. Of course, they had a big part in that vision – by responding to God’s calling and becoming the answer to their own prayers for a solution.

Asking Questions

If you are still reading, it means you are a leader or hope to be one. The question is: Are you a visionary leader? Here are seven self-evaluating questions that can help you find your answer.

  1. Do I have a clear sense of a primary human need or problem God called me to meet? From Nehemiah to Mother Teresa, every God-given vision is based on a specific human need.

  2. Do I spend a significant part of my time working specifically toward my life’s central calling? No leader “owns” true vision, but rather “is owned by it.” Vision grips you and won’t let go until you are taking steps to accomplish it.

  3. Am I confident that God is the source of vision for my life? For the biblical leader, vision is revelation. It comes from the throne of the Father through Jesus, in the power of the Holy Spirit.

  4. Do I experience deep and powerful emotions, even pain, when I think about God’s calling on my life? Vision and passion come together. Vision is an emotional experience fueled by the flames of passion.

  5. Do I talk about God’s vision for my life frequently to people close to  me and those who are under my authority? It goes from a dream to a vision when you begin to share it with others and mobilizing people to join in with you.

  6. Do I expect I will achieve God’s vision (or calling) for my life? Visionaries are incurable optimists – however impossible the vision may seem.

  7. Do I expect to leave a legacy that will have significant impact long after I am gone? True God-given vision is multi-generational and will outlive the visionary who dreamed it.

If your answers were a resounding YES to at all these questions, you are a true visionary, the Hubble telescope of visionary leadership. Even if you answered only four of seven positively, you may be on your way to a great vision that will change history for many people and proclaim God’s glory. If your answers were all NO, take heart and pray the words of Jesus in Matthew 9:37-38.

“The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

But beware. That is a dangerous prayer, because you will probably become the very answer you are looking for, and God will grow you into a visionary leader that will change history for God’s glory.