Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Correcting Vision Loss - Part 2 of 2

In my last post, I began to share some lessons learned from my personal vision loss. My first point was that Vision Loss Can Occur Long Before Symptom-Awareness. That's what happened to me, and the same can easily happen in our churches.

In this post I will share six more lessons on vision loss and correction -especially correction.

Lesson #2 - Symptoms Require Correction. 

When my retina became distorted, what I felt and experienced was some disorientation and frustration. I couldn't see like I could before. At times I was seeing double! I didn't enjoy that. It clouded all of my waking activity. But all of that was simply to get my attention that something needed fixing. 

In the church the symptoms may be a sense of drifting. It may be a lack of direction and priorities. It could be double-vision, i.e. one leader is going in one direction and another or others are going in another. Whatever the symptoms are, they are simply there to say that your church needs vision fixing.

Lesson #3 - Correction May Require Outside Help
When I first noticed my retinal problem, it was obvious to me that I wouldn't be able to fix this myself. I knew that it would not be a good idea to follow in the footsteps of one of my uncles. When he had macular degeneration in one of his eyes, he told me that he reached for the Clorox bottle and started splashing it in! Not a good idea.

Even when I went to a generalist for an eye exam, I could tell right away that my situation was also way beyond there expertise. After a couple of tests, it took them no time to reach for the phone number of a retinal specialist. 

It may be a Jethro that you know (see Ex. 18). It may be a denominational leader with more experience or training than  you have. Or it may be a church consultant. Whoever it is, if your church direction is drifting, it may very likely require a specialist to bring about correction. They may just provide the necessary change leadership and motivation that will take the drift away.

Lesson #4 - Vision Correction Will Take Time

My journey began in January 2012. I eventually had surgery in May. That led to several followups and the discovery that the retinal surgery actually caused a cataract requiring a second surgery in December of 2012. Following that the full recovery did not occur until May of 2013.

If your church goes in the direction of vision correction, you will need to give it time. Planning alone will take six months or longer. Following that there will be the need for careful but purposeful change leadership. It is often helpful to do a church wide health assessment first before planning. This will allow you to define priorities and focus your planning work. Along the way, don't be surprised if your efforts surface other matters that must be addressed to clear the road for your vision to be realized.

Lesson #5 - Vision Correction Will Require Inside Help

In my vision loss story, I was prescribed a variety of anti-inflammatory meds, steroids, and antibiotics to make sure that the work of the specialists could take effect and not get side-tracked. Drop after drop in my eyes helped the process from the inside out.

Your church vision path will succeed only if it gets drop after drop from your recognized opinion leaders. Your board and key staff and key lay leaders can give your change process the inside help needed. Some will drop anti-inflammatory words to smooth out change reactions. Others will drop in steroids to build the infrastructure of changes. Others may drop in prayers to fight the antibodies of the enemy who would love to side-track your changes. Let the insiders help lead the change.

Lesson #6 - Vision Correction Will Require a Shift of Priorities

When I went down my vision correction path, it was clear to me that my priorities were going to have to change if I was going to see this through to the end. I was going to have to go to some meetings I didn't necessarily want to. I was going to have to make time for new appointments that didn't naturally fit in my schedule. I would have to rearrange my schedule. I would need to travel far from home. I would also need to sit sometimes for hours in a waiting room. These new meetings would take the place of other meetings and in some cases they would be stacked on top of others and my life got busier. But it was worth it. Vision correction was important, so I changed my schedule.

Jethro told Moses he needed to start doing things a different way, to select others to help, and to make decisions in a new way. Moses didn't say he didn't have time for that. He shifted his priorities and made time for this new direction. Vision correction in your church will require the same.

Lesson #7 - Vision Correction Will Produce Results

When I started out I had my doubts. Would the specialists be able to help? Will I do what I need to so this will work? But in the end, after two surgeries, lots of eye drops, and lots of running around, my vision is corrected. I am thankful to be able to say, it worked.

It worked for Moses. It has worked for many churches. It can work for yours.

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