When I was a teenager and my mom entered her 40s, we both experienced changes in our vision. I could no longer read the board in school without straining or asking a friend, and mom couldn’t read words close up. Before I finally got glasses and mom purchased readers, we had an interesting and somewhat comical time trying to share a hymnal at church. We would laugh as she held the book out as far as her arms would reach to see the lyrics, and I tried to pull her arm back toward us so that I could read them.
In the Christian Ethics class that I’m currently taking, we’ve learned about liberation and social justice ethics. As such, I’ve been thinking about how we view the world. My mom and I couldn’t see the same thing from the same perspective because of our physical limitations. But many times, our viewpoints come from the way we approach situations. Some people see the big picture. They think about how an organization can be its best or make progress. The organizations can vary in type and form, from our families and workplaces to our churches and communities. The high concept planners use their imaginations and experience to cast a vision for the how the group can improve and thrive in the present and the future.
Other folks focus on the details. They’re on the ground, in the trenches, dealing with the daily grind. They know how the system works in reality versus theory. They may not focus on developing a long-term, all-encompassing vision for the entire organization. Instead, they are determined to put an effective plan into action.
Both ways of looking at things have value and are necessary to the successful operation of any organization. And both are essential when examining and challenging the status quo. But so often, we don’t take the time or make the effort to take into consideration the viewpoint that differs from ours. We need those who have the foresight to see all the group can be, and we need to listen to the people doing the work to find out if the vision can be accomplished in ways that are productive and authentically fulfill the mission of the organization. Especially in our churches and in our organizations whose goals are to help others, we must have vision, but we must be attentive to those we intend to help – what they say they need and how they need it.
God cares about the big picture and the daily minutia. When we are searching for purpose for ourselves or our groups, we can pray for God’s guidance. When we are trying to implement good practices, we can invite God into the process. We can also accept God’s support through trusted friends and advisors. The Psalmist said, “I lift up my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip – he who watches over you will not slumber.” (Psalm 121:3). The God who made the universe (the biggest of big pictures) also cares about us individually to the point that he doesn’t want us to slip or doubt that he is always ready to help us.
Let us make every effort to consider both viewpoints – the broad and the narrow – so that we make our groups and ourselves strong and healthy. And always remember that God will help us discern both the vision and the best ways to put the vision into action.