This post is part two of Trading a Lion for a Pussycat.

How do you discover, develop and deliver the unique vision God has for you? How can you know that you won't die a carbon copy when God has made you an original?

#1 Uncaging vision begins with the vision of God. Finding your unique vision starts by worshipping and listening to the Chief Visionary. Remember that no "better future" than you can imagine was not already imagined in the heart of God. He started with perfection in Eden and he will end with perfection in New Jerusalem. But you have your part in the story in between—thy kingdom come thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. When was the last time you prayed to God as the ultimate source of vision?

#2 Uncaging vision demands ruthless self-examination. One definition of genius is the ability to scrutinize the obvious. Most leaders are so close to their community both inside and outside of the church, that they miss the contextual and cultural cues that are essential to guide the vision discovery process. The win is to answer the question, "What can our church do better than ten thousand others?" I call this your Kingdom Concept. How does your church specifically glorify God and make disciples? One key practice for self-examination is to invite a strategic outsider who can bring objectivity and honesty to the process.

#3 Uncaging vision requires robust team dialogue. Vision has been a lone-ranger sport for way too long. Missional leaders are opting for a higher standard of team leadership that is practiced in community. It's only through brutally honest conversation and the blood, sweat and tears of God-honoring transparency that a team can forge a clear vision. As the leader are you allowing others to come to the vision table?

#4 Uncaging vision involves meticulous articulation. Words create worlds. Every single word, metaphor or story that drives your vision must be carefully created if you want to have a stunning impact. Of course, having some statement on the wall is no end all. We all know that! But when I am around great leaders with unique, God-given vision, I am always amazed by their carefully tuned word choice. In my work with leaders we hold up a five-fold standard. Is every aspect of your vision clear, concise, compelling, catalytic, and contextual?

#5 Uncaging vision extracts significant time commitment. The deathblow to discovering unique vision usually boils down to time. Most leaders are unwilling to practice the above points because they are running so fast on a ministry treadmill. The few who get off the treadmill, however, always run faster and further for the mission of Jesus in the world.

In the end, if you are trying to lead with someone else's vision, who is going to fulfill yours? The American dream does not apply to the church: your church can't be anything you want it to be. But it can be everything God wants it to be.

What are you going to do to breakout and uncage over the holidays?