NOTE: Andy first published Visioneering in 1999. Last year he re-released a revised and updated edition. I’ve never read the original so I can’t speak to what exactly was ‘revised’ or ‘updated.’
Visioneering, Isn’t That by Andy Stanley…?
Andy Stanley is something of a controversial figure among evangelicals. Some love him for his plain, matter-of-fact way of preaching and his leadership resources. Others despise him because they think he’s arrogant and unorthodox. And then there are people like me. From what I’ve seen, I think Andy has a good heart. I think he genuinely wants to see God’s Kingdom grow. And I believe he’s doing everything he knows to make that happen. I don’t necessarily agree with all of his decisions or statements. But then again, I don’t know anyone that I agree with 100% of the time.
With that said, I really enjoyed Visioneering.
This is a book that is both scriptural and filled with practical advice. And he’s not just talking about starting a business or building a church. This is not a book exclusively for ‘professionals.’ Andy notes that our vision can be as ‘simple’ as raising healthy children. In other words, we are all leaders with a task to accomplish. If you’ll let it, Visioneering will shepherd you as you discover your call, prepare for it, and take the necessary steps to see it realized.
Leadership Lessons from the Book of Nehemiah
Unlike other leadership books I’ve read, Visioneering is unique in its use of scripture. Andy uses the book of Nehemiah as a template to teach how visions are born and accomplished. Nehemiah’s story is especially appropriate for this task, as the book notes, since it lacks miracles. Though there’s no doubt that God is at work through it all, he works as he usually does in our lives – behind the scenes. Rather than raining down fire and brimstone on our problems, God normally strengthens us and grants us wisdom through his Spirit to deal with our problems one-on-one.
Nehemiah’s story slowly unfolds through each chapter. And as it goes, Andy explores the story and its implications by interweaving the text, examples from his own life and elsewhere, and practical advice. If you’ve ever heard him preach, this book reads the same way. It’s concise and simple, but powerful. Though ‘a vision begins as a concern’ may not seem like a revolutionary insight, the surrounding text fleshes that main idea out and helps the reader see why it is important – even if it might seem self-evident. And this is the case for each main point.
The end of each chapter includes a practical to-do list that helps turn ideas into actions. Unfortunately, the nature of the book means that you won’t be able to work through it quickly. This isn’t a book that you read once and then shelf. At least, not if you want to use it effectively. This is a book that you ought to return to as you make progress on your vision. Visioneering simply can’t be read and worked through in a sitting.
Keep This One Close By
I’m at a stage in my life where I can’t do much to see my vision accomplished. When you’re there, you can feel like you’re spinning your wheels. It’s not always (or ever) a great feeling. As I read the first two chapters, I was hit by an insight that should have been obvious but that I’d missed. When we can’t move forward in our vision, what can we do? We can pray and plan. In other words, instead of looking at what we can’t do, Andy reminds us to focus on what we can do. Unfortunately, I can’t move beyond chapter 2. I can read the rest of the book. But I can’t really put it into practice.
So until I get to a place where I can actually move beyond chapter two, I’m going to have to put Visioneering to the side and live in the advice that it gives. I’m going to pray and plan. But I have read the rest of the book. And I’ve found the advice in the later chapters to be great advice – it’s just not advice I can currently use. So I’ll be back.
Once I reach a place where I can move beyond chapter two, I’ll pick Visioneering up again and re-read chapter 3. Then chapter 4. And 5. And on and on.
I may not agree with everything Andy Stanley has ever done or said (I don’t agree with everything anyone has ever said or done – myself included); however, I do appreciate the wisdom and experience he shares in Visioneering. I’ll be using it for a long time to come.
Disclaimer: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review, as part of the Blogging for Books program.
If you’d like to read it for yourself, you can order a copy here:
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