3 Ways Wilderness Experiences Help Promote Visionary Thinking

young man diving in seaLeaders of all kinds have ups and downs in their visionary capacity. Visionary leadership arises in situations when people need to know what “must” happen, right now. Visionary leaders know clearly what must happen. When a leader can crystallize in their mind the difference between a good idea and an absolute “must”, they are on the verge of becoming a visionary leader.

I love expeditionary learning in the wilderness because it provides growth opportunities for every person, regardless of their goals or aspirations, and no matter their starting point. God meets us where we are in the wilderness, and if we are willing and humble, he will lead us where we need to go. In this post I want to highlight specifically how wilderness experiences make average leaders into influential visionary leaders.

The wilderness is an ideal environment for fostering visionary leadership because it is wild and unpredictable. It constantly creates “need to know” situations where one has to sort out the difference between an “okay idea worth trying”, versus “the right thing to do… the thing that we must do, right now.” The wilderness strips us of merely good ideas and splatters light all over those things that matter the most in life. And if you let it, with a little humble, thoughtful Biblical reflection, God can and will use the wilderness to forge an unshakeable, foundational, Gospel-centered worldview for you that will withstand the storms of life and the tests of time.

RELATED POST: Using Outdoor Ministry to Teach the Worldview of Jesus

1. Pursue The Lump in Your Throat Factor | Swallowing the Pill of Natural Decision Making Scenarios

Outdoor-based leadership training environments are incubators for wisdom and innovation because they create natural decision-making scenarios that really matter. When faced with a river crossing, a lighting storm, or a foreboding squall that has hypothermia written all over it, a leader must lead with vision. He or she must decide what must happen now, and act on it without delay.

Time in the wilderness strips away the mediocre, lukewarmness of our lives and replaces it with a lump in the throat that points us to eternal truths and timeless wisdom calling out to us through His Creation. God had these words for the church in Sardis in Revelation 3:16. As these words were meant to wake up that church, they also make me feel a lump in my throat as well…

So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. (Revelation 3:16)

RELATED POSTS: The 3 E’s of Rapid Decision-Making Skills in Outdoor Leadership  |  Experience + Efficiency + Exposure = Rapid Decision-Making Skills

2. The Wilderness Incubates Visionary Thinking by Granting the Wilderness Sojourner Access to Wisdom that Cries Out Through Creation

According to the Bible, Solomon was the wisest man who ever walked the face of the earth. He was a great leader, and he was shaped profoundly by his observations of the natural created world that God had made. He shows us that wisdom and vision are intimately linked. God’s Creation is one of the primary lecture halls that enables us to possess visionary leadership qualities. Creation’s lecture hall is filled with chalkboards of mountain faces, and whiteboards of foaming waves crashing on the sand. Listen to Solomon’s profound words:

Does not wisdom call out? Does not understanding raise her voice? On the heights along the way, where the paths meet, she takes her stand; beside the gates leading into the city, at the entrances, she cries aloud (Proverbs 8:1-3)

The Lord brought me forth as the first of his works, before his deeds of old;
I was appointed from eternity, from the beginning, before the world began.
When there were no oceans, I was given birth, when there were no springs abounding with water; before the mountains were settled in place, before the hills, I was given birth, before he made the earth or its fields or any of the dust of the world. I was there when he set the heavens in place, when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep, when he established the clouds above and fixed securely the fountains of the deep, when he gave the sea its boundary so the waters would not overstep his command, and when he marked out the foundations of the earth. Then I was the craftsman at his side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence, rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in mankind. (Proverbs 8:22-31)

3. Intentionally Put Yourself in the Path of Wisdom

Do you want to lead others with vision? How about establishing a rhythm of wilderness travel. Why not choose right now to wave the white flag and surrender your human-centered strategies for growth and influencing people and follow Solomon’s example. He intentionally put himself in the path of Wisdom, by investing plentiful amounts time with God out in his Creation.

 

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3 thoughts on “3 Ways Wilderness Experiences Help Promote Visionary Thinking

  1. Ashley I do agree with the wisdom especially in number 1. But when does a leader need to not lead overtly, and allow the situation to be the instructor? In other words, in number 1 above, where is the line between leading a group through a struggle and allowing the group to struggle in order to learn? I have had situations where I knew what to do, and why we needed to do it, but instead did not act on purpose thinking that the group would benefit more by me abstaining leadership rather than leading. As a pastor when I teach on Sunday mornings I sometimes explain/interpret scripture, but other times I insist the congregation go home and explore a certain teaching themselves. It comes down to me teaching a lesson verses me teaching them how to think on their own. Thanks for the blog….I have enjoyed it for years!

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