When my daughter, Megan, said she desired to become an occupational therapist. I did not understand this vocation or what such work would entail. That was before we attended an open house at Kansas University Medical Center’s Graduate Program for Occupational Therapy.
The program director first greeted all of the parents and prospective students, then proceeded to inform us that an occupational therapist’s job is “to discover the dreams of the patient, then help them overcome their challenges to achieve those dreams.”
I had to marvel at this powerful picture of the impact an occupational therapist can have. The program director must have been a wise leader, because she could have described daily duties and would have been accurate in detailing what an occupational therapist does. Instead, she inspired and encouraged these students with a vision for changing lives. And in the process, she gained the support of parents who felt great enthusiasm about the meaningful roles their children could play in people’s lives.
We see many biblical examples of the principle of inspiring followers with a great vision for the future. In Deuteronomy 3, for example, God said to Moses, “But commission Joshua, and encourage and strengthen him, for he will lead this people across and will cause them to inherit the land that you will see.” God was not just giving Joshua an assignment – He was imparting vision for leading the Israelites.
A savvy leader inspires others with a vision bigger and more important than the specific responsibilities involved in performing the job. You might know the story of the brick mason observed chipping at a large piece of granite, working as part of a large construction crew in Europe. When a passerby asked what he was doing, the mason replied, “I’m building a cathedral!” That man had vision.
The challenge for us as leaders is in communicating this vision, enabling people to see their work as bigger than themselves. It starts with us – you cannot give away something you do not possess, so we need to have the greater vision ourselves before we can pass it on to others. That is why I was so impressed by the description of what an occupational therapist actually does.
We spend so much of our time in business focused on the bottom line, striving for profits, that we often lose sight of a greater vision. In your company, you know the products and services you provide. But what is your vision – how can your business make a positive, meaningful difference in the lives of people that you touch? Here are two biblical examples.
Make clear what you expect them to do. When Jesus initially approached His future disciples, He needed to convince them to leave their accustomed work as fishermen. He simply gave them their new job description: “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19).
Communicate how lives can be changed. At the close of His earthly ministry, Jesus Christ made clear to His followers what He expected them to do: “…go and make disciples of all nations…teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20).
Copyright 2012, Integrity Resource Center, Inc. Adapted with permission from “Integrity Moments with Rick Boxx,” a commentary on issues of integrity in the workplace from a Christian perspective. To learn more about Integrity Resource Center or to sign up for Rick’s daily Integrity Moments, visit www.integrityresource.org. His book, How to Prosper in Business Without Sacrificing Integrity, gives a biblical approach for doing business with integrity.
1. How do you think you would have reacted upon hearing the program director describe what an occupational therapist does? Explain your answer.
2. Have you ever worked for someone that inspired you to view your job in a larger way, as being much more than the specific responsibilities you were to carry out? Perhaps, like the brick mason that focused not on the block of granite, but rather the cathedral in which it would be placed? If so, how did that leader convey that vision?
3. Does your company communicate a greater, grander vision for what you should be seeking to achieve as parts of a corporate unit? Why or why not, in your opinion?
4. What are some of the challenges leaders face in casting a greater vision to employees and getting them to embrace them with enthusiasm?
NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages:
Isaiah 60:22; Jeremiah 29:11, 33:3; Matthew 17:20; Luke 17:6; Acts 1:8; 2 Timothy 2:2,15