“Be Thou My Vision”
Have you ever had the words of a Bible verse or a hymn grab you in a way you never imagined before? I had one such experience some weeks ago during our worship as we sang the Gradual for that day, entitled “Be Thou My Vision.” The words spoke to me of leadership in the church. Later, wanting to meditate further, I took the liberty of re-writing the lyrics in my own words, getting rid of some of the archaic language (and, regrettably, most of the poetry). So, the lyrics could be as follows:
Be a vision for me, O Lord of my heart;
There is nothing else for me, just your presence –
You are my best thought, by day or by night,
Awake or asleep, your presence is my light.
Be my wisdom, and my true word;
I am always with you, as you are always with me, Lord;
You are my great Father; may I be your own;
You dwell in me, and I dwell in you.
The key thoughts, to me, are “vision”, “wisdom” and the indwelling of God in us. The author doesn’t appear to be asking for the gifts of vision and wisdom in the normal sense of transferring a gift from one person to another, to then be owned and used by the receiver. Rather, he is asking for the very presence of the Lord Himself, knowing that gifts such as vision and wisdom (and by extension all other spiritual gifts) are intrinsic to God. The gifts can be expected to come with God in His presence in us.
So, how does this fit with leadership? I can see in the sentiment of the lyrics a desire for:
· God’s intimate presence;
· a plea for vision and wisdom;
· a posture of humility and submission.
It would be fair to want such traits in leaders. But I want to be very careful here. What is a leader? The obvious answer is someone called as a priest, elected to the Vestry, appointed to a ministry, or hired as staff. Less obviously, but no less importantly, God has a place and a role for every single believer in His Kingdom. These traits belong to all of us, in every situation, and make us who we are, witnesses in a world thirsty for people more interested in hope and helping than everything else.