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Here's a New Year's Resolution Worth Making

Mal Fletcher
Posted 22 December 2007
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This week, I interviewed for TV my friend and fellow pioneer spirit, Steve Chalke, MBE.

We actually did two interviews together; one for series seven of the popular EDGES programmes (on human trafficking – a passion of Steve’s) and the other for a new TV project on the future of society and the church’s place in it. (Actually, you can already seen two other interviews made for that series on this site - click here.)

In the minds of many people, myself included, Steve is one of the leading Christian activists of our time. He’s no slouch when it comes to getting things done, which is why people like me want to interview him in the first place.

He made many interesting points in what was a wide-ranging interview. We covered everything from the inclusiveness of the gospel, to what the Queen of England really believes.

One of his comments, however, immediately resonated with me in a special way. "Vision,” he said, “is the same thing as frustration.”

He went on to explain himself, but I haven’t yet seen even the raw footage from the interview so I can't share his response verbatim. Thankfully, he covered this point in a recent book entitled “Change Agents: 25 Hard Learned Lessons in the Art of Getting Things Done". He explains it this way:

“Vision is longing for what it is not yet; frustration is the inevitable result of longing for what is not yet. You can’t have one without the other."

I know from long experience that Steve is absolutely right. Whenever I open myself to new vision -- not just to dreams, but to dreams I’m strategizing about then acting upon, for that’s the difference between dreams and vision – I find that it isn't long before I get frustrated about something.

It's usually the lack of resources, people or money, or the slowness of other people to understand the need for the project ahead. Often, or course, my greatest frustration is with myself – my perceived (or real!) lack of ability for what is required, or my impatience to see it happen.

It’s only starting to dawn on me now, though, at the grand young age of 50, that without that tiresome frustration, I might too quickly stop looking for better ways of doing things and more strategic alternatives to the status quo.

Frustration is just a part of being uncomfortable with where we are right now. It’s our impatience to see change that pushes us toward a strategic mindset.

I’ve noted before that many Christians are great wishful thinkers, but terrible strategic thinkers. Strategic thinking involves seeing a preferred future – God’s preferred future – and working back to the present in order to see how we can get there.

The Bible is filled with references to this kind of careful, step-by-step planning. Among your Christmas presents this year, you may receive one of those gizmos that promises there’s ‘no assembly required’. God’s purposes don’t come in that kind of package.

Godly vision comes as revelation, but it must then be married to application. The revelation is God’s part; finding the right expression, or application, is ours. And that’s where we need to manage our frustration, making it our servant rather than our master, yet accepting that it is necessary to drive the vision forward.

OK, this isn’t everybody’s idea of a Christmas article, but New Year’s resolutions are made too late if they’re left until New Year's Eve. Now is the time to prepare ourselves, mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually, to deal with and manage the frustrations we’ll face in 2008 in the pursuit of greater influence.

Now is the time to resolve that whatever frustrations might arise from our God-given vision, we will stick to the game plan, changing tack only if and when the Lord directs. And we will not allow future frustration to be our enemy; in fact, we will let it drive us to climb new mountains and conquer new oceans in serving our world and, most of all, serving our Lord.

To find out more about the work of Steve Chalke, visit: and

What’s your view?

Do you find frustration a useful part of developing new vision and strategies for the future?



Keywords: New Year's resolutions | Christmas | vision | strategic planning | strategic thinking | Steve Chalke | Mal Fletcher | Oasis Trust | Oasis Global | Faithworks | EDGES

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