bits from bob....

Selective Vision

by Robert J. Young
©, 2003, Robert J. Young
[permission is given to reprint with credit noted]

Most people tend to observe things of special interest to them while paying little or no attention in other areas. A husband does not notice what his wife is wearing as they leave to go out for the evening, but immediately sees the tiny scratch in the paint on their new car. His wife can tell him that the friend they unexpectedly met at the restaurant had changed her hair color but cannot describe how they got to the restaurant and could not find her way there again. We observe the things in which we are interested. This tendency is called selective attention.

Most people listen to things they find interesting while being less than attentive at other times. A husband does not hear his wife's request. A child does not her a mother's instructions. Never mind that the request and instructions are audible and clearly stated--disinterest has taken over. At other times, people overhear barely audible conversations not intended for their ears. Most of us have some firsthand awareness of selective hearing.

The church must develop a fresh vision for the 21st century. The church must be thinking, planning, hoping, defining expectations, considering possibilities. This requires careful attention to the church. Yet all experience selective vision. We see things differently, fail to see some things, are uniquely capable of seeing items generally overlooked by others. The importance and value of having the entire church involved in the "visioning" process is accentuated because of the unique viewpoints of individual members of the body.

What is this church becoming? Where are we going? Where should we be going? What changes do we need to make to effectively minister in this community today? Tomorrow? Next decade, century, millennium? What does this community, this church, each member need? These are good questions, important questions. Each is a different question, with a different focus and different answer.

The vision of some is focused on change. Others focus on effective ministry or progress or identity. Some focus on the community, others on the church or even on how individual needs shall be met. Selective attention is a fact of life.

I appreciate good leaders. They constantly ask probing questions. They allow input. They want to know what others think. Each local congregation defines and makes its own destiny as a church. The hearts of leaders and members must be focused on ministry and spiritual growth. Effective church leaders want all of the sheep, with multiplied selective interests, to find identity, belonging, and involvement in the body of Christ.

Concluding with another metaphor, the church is like a jigsaw puzzle--500 pieces, all different, each unique, different shapes, colors, patterns--each fitting specifically into some special place in the puzzle. I put together a jigsaw puzzle a few years ago. When I got done, one piece was missing. I kept the puzzle for a few months, and then sold it in a garage sale (assembled, with one piece obviously missing). Puzzles without all the pieces are frustrating, and not much fun to look at when you get them together.

Churches without all of the pieces are frustrating too, and not much fun. Such churches are ineffective, unfocused, spastic. Body parts fail to work, big chunks of potential ministry go undone. Why? Selective attendance, selective involvement, selective interests....

Aren't you glad Jesus wasn't selective when he died on the cross? Have you recently considered the blessing of God as he fashions, tempers, and places so many differing persons in the body? Each is important. Of that there can be no doubt--Jesus died for all!

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Last updated November 4, 2003.