Vision: A Definition, and 5 Ways to Develop It

A person can have sight, yet be practically blind.

Vision extends beyond sight. It’s not daydreaming. It’s not an emotional hallucination. Vision is the ability to see beyond: to have a grasp on the future through a command of the present.

Let’s unpack that definition and take a look at some ways vision can be built in your life.

“Command of the Present”

I don’t mean “control.” Sure, there are plenty of things you can control right now. But there are a whole lot more things outside your realm of personal control. To contrast, take government, for example. You can’t control what decisions our nation’s leaders make — but you can control the principles you invest in the lives of others around you, and that can lead to better government from the bottom up. You may not be able to stop human trafficking by sheer will-power, but you can choose to protect the vulnerable from it.

So by “command,” I’m talking more about discipline. You might call them “habits,” or “self control.” It’s mastery over self. The person who masters his Self is free from slavery to self, and is able to better direct the choices he makes. The choices you make in this moment affect those you make in the next, leading to either the fulfillment or failure of your vision.

On self-mastery’s flip side is being mastered by God, rightful King over the physical universe. Much of the time He works powerfully without (or in spite of) our help. But in His sovereignty, He gave freedom. Will we give prominence to His voice, or ours?

He’s the One Who said, “Without divine vision, people are unrestrained.” (literal reading of Proverbs 29:18a) It’s easy to see two aspects of vision from this verse: first, it needs to come from God, and second, the opposite of having it is being without discipline or mastery (restraint).

Part of commanding the present is choosing to allow what will and won’t have importance and influence in your life. It’s the process of eliminating distractions: saying “yes” to relationships and ideas and actions that matter, and saying “no” to those which pull you off course even a tiny bit.

“Grasp on the Future”

Is it really possible to have a grip on the future? It’s a valid question.

You can touch the future simply by living, consuming, and leaving a couple children to continue the human race. This is floating.

You can mar the future by pursuing self, being consumed with evil purposes, and seeking to leave a scar on the world. This is infamy.

You can grasp the future by standing for principle, creating, and leaving a legacy through affecting the mindset with which your children live life. This is vision.

Your great-great-uncle who nobody remembers touched the future.

Hitler marred it.

William Booth grasped it.

To walk through life with a Spirit-led vision is to truly grasp the future in a way that says, “This is a principle I stand on; I will live by it so that my ancestors may also stand on it.” It’s being a gatekeeper for future generations.

If you choose to follow Jesus Christ in the radically different way of Life in the Spirit — really live it, in truth and power — how will that change the people you touch, the legacy you leave?

If you have the chance to prevent one child from being enslaved, who knows what might happen?

If you buckle down and discipline yourself to be serious about thinking deep thoughts, then let them change your path, who will your grandchildren know you as?

“Ability to See Beyond”

It’s really easy to get caught up in what you can see right now. There are a million voices clamoring for your attention, as many ways you can amuse yourself, and myriads more you can worry yourself with. Most of those voices don’t matter. The majority of amusements are distractions from real life. And worrying about the future cripples you from being able to do anything about it.

Having the ability to see beyond means that, even while living Now, you’ve got a destination in mind. You’ve chosen your course and go purposefully in that direction.

One example my dad always used was that of plowing fields. Early on in his hobby farming, he learned that as long as he focused on plowing straight lines by watching where his tractor was, the lines were never straight. But when he chose a point at the end of the field and drove towards it, more times than not the line would be straight.

Translated to character, if your goal is to have humility, it never works to try being humble. That’s focusing on the here, the now, the obvious, the supposedly easy. To have humility, you have to learn to esteem others as more important than the all-consuming Me. That’s hard, and requires thinking ahead and self-discipline.

Vision is knowing where you need to be — having an end in mind — and intentionally going for it.

Developing Vision

A deep, far-reaching, mature vision isn’t crafted in a week. My vision is still under construction, but it gets clearer as the years go on.

Here are some ways a vision can be developed:


By developing the skill of thinking, you’ll discover a whole world outside your Self. Stop to consider the commonplace. Examine the world views around you. Renew your mind in the Spirit of Holiness. Take time to consider the actions and paths you’re taking as a person.

Walking in the Spirit

If you’re not walking in the Spirit of God, you can still have vision — but it’s not going to extend into the ultimate future: eternity. The goal of a relationship with God isn’t to further your own vision, but that’ll be a natural result of walking with Him. God’s will isn’t found hidden in a fog you have to stumble around in. By spending more time understanding the depths of His eternal will, you’ll better understand how to respond to it with choices to spread His Kingdom.

Part of mastering yourself is being mastered by God.

“We do not win our strength and stability by mastering ideas, but by being mastered by them — held in their grasp…” – Charles Henry Parkhurst

That mastery by someone or something else helps shape your vision. If you understand that God has made life sacred, you’ll have a stronger vision to see an end come to ideas like abortion and depopulation.

Skills and Interests

God has equipped each of us with particular skills and interests. Many of these you gained through associations and environments growing up, but for most you can choose to invest time and effort. Sometimes God moves people to do something completely opposite of their natural bent, but often He uses people as He’s called them.


Similarly to thinking, a study of the world around you yields analogies and insights to help you gain or focus vision in life. Study of the Word of God brings clarity to your worldview. Study of people’s behavior helps you understand how we work. To examine details of things takes time, effort, and often much self-discipline.

For some people, picking up a skill comes naturally at first. But it’s often harder to stick with something. I’m that kind of person; if I can’t naturally do something well after a while, I tend to discourage myself from continuing to try. It’s helpful to find mentors or other ways of learning: books, classes, people who can answer questions.

Take Risk

Vision is inherently risky. I can’t see the future, so why try to grasp it through mastery over the way I choose to live? Plus, having vision to stick to may (and probably will) mean missing out on personal comfort or gain. Small risks are stepping stones to large risks. If you overcome the fear of small risks, you’re prepared to overcome large risks — and make lasting change.

Focusing Your Vision

All of the above ways can fit together to focus your vision; the way you think about and interact with the world will affect your actions. It’s been said that if we say we believe something, but it doesn’t change how we live, we don’t really believe it.

It’s easy to lose focus on what’s important, letting your attention be sidetracked to what’s flashy and excitingly unimportant in the world. Honestly, I’d rather sit around on computer games all day than have a meaningful, risky, and (probably) uncomfortable life. That’s why I don’t allow myself to play them.

When I lose my vision is when I am most prone to discouragement, paralyzation, rotten attitudes, and sin. Both my wife and I know this too well. In a way, I perish a little. And when God renews vision, it’s a fresh breath of life.

Vision is far too important to pass up. It’s scary, absolutely, and that’s why we don’t see much of it in our culture and times today. That’s also why we don’t see many modern day Wilberforces, Muellers, Nees, Alywards, Pauls…

“We shall have all eternity in which to celebrate our victories, but we have only one swift hour before the sunset in which to win them.” – Robert Moffat

“The trouble with people, nine out of ten of them, is that they stand on insulators and watch the play of lightning through drawn shutters, and never stand out and let the electric storm play in their own bosoms.” – Charles Henry Parkhurst

Fellow disciples: let’s become a body with vision again. I need it as much as you do.

35 Musings

35 Musings for Young Adults

New Book!

Last summer I began pondering the idea of compiling a bunch of blog posts, essays, and stories into a printed volume. After pulling content from my a variety of places in my archives, it was clear that there was enough material.

Two weeks after beginning to gather things together, 35 Musings for Young Adults was published and is now available in paperback and for Kindle!


35 Musings includes blog posts from the archives, such as:

  • Controlled Burning
  • Pulling Focus
  • O King, Live Forever
  • Throwing Gutterballs
  • Wise or Foolish?

Never-published musings, including:

  • The Power of God Mocked
  • Practice vs. Thought
  • Nostalgia Culture
  • On Life, Sociality, and Singleness

Essays by both myself and Samantha, like:

  • Arbeit Macht Frei
  • A New Journey
  • Separate But Equal

Also included is The Continuing Journey, which gives some glimpses into Samantha and my engagement. We talk about some of the things God led us to do, how they wound up working out, and their effects on our just-begun marriage. It’s not intended to be a guide of any kind, simply a look into one way God has worked.

My hope is that 35 Musings can be a help to young people navigating the waters of becoming adults. Sometimes all we need are examples and provoking things to think about; perhaps this collection of writings can be of use.

For parents: please note that in this book, I’m very transparent about some issues I struggled with in the past. There’s nothing explicit, but I do mention porn addiction a couple times and masturbation.

Where to Buy   |   Kindle   |   CreateSpace

Book Information

218 pages, paperback.

Growing into adulthood can be confusing.

It’s easy to feel like giving up & giving in — but is that what we’re called to do?

35 Musings is a collection of essays and stories written by two young adults. They present glimpses into their own experiences, questions to ponder, and ideas to mull over.

Topics include:

  • Wisdom
  • Music
  • Patience in Life
  • Truth
  • Priorities
  • Dating & Courtship
  • Modern Culture
  • Navigating Life

35 Musings for Young Adults

Rite of Passage 2

Rite of Passage 2: Kickstarting

Rite of Passage 2 – Help Kickstart It! from Chad Stembridge on Vimeo.

Rite of Passage 2 is an adventure/coming-of-age documentary on a boy becoming a man. The first documentary was shot in the wilderness of Florida on minimal budget and with little planning; RoP2 is happening in the desert of Nevada — and we're in a position to really make this good. We need your help!

Kickstart Rite of Passage 2

Shot this on BMCC in ProRes/FilmDR and Pentax 50mm f/1.7, and 60D with Cinestyle and EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II.

Chad & Samantha Stembridge

2013 In Review

A friend once told me that there’s an inverse relationship between life and blogging. At the time, I didn’t understand; now I do.

A lot’s happened since the last blog post!

Most importantly, this:

Chad & Samantha Stembridge

Samantha and I are wanting to write another blog post about some of the experiences of our engagement sometime, especially about how some things we did have helped make our marriage strong from the start. But that’ll be for another day when we have time…

Here’s a quick rundown of major events in 2013:

  • - Published Simply Enigma.
  • - Worked at the Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Nebraska homeschool conventions for Rainbow Resource.
  • - Began courting Samantha.
  • - Played in the pit for Fiddler on the Roof at Southeastern Illinois College.
  • - Tried beekeeping for a week. They flew away.
  • - Asked Samantha to marry me (when God says to move, there’s no use in dragging feet!)
  • - Began our engagement by not seeing Samantha for three weeks (gone on conventions).
  • - Worked as a Beginning Orchestra coach and an Advanced Chamber Group coach at Sforzando String Camp.
  • - Backpacked in the Shawnee National Forest with Tyler, John Briggs, and Kyle DePriest. Samantha had to bring us water.
  • - Began life in Southern Illinois.
  • - Married Samantha!!!
  • - Went South for Thanksgiving.

Books I Read

The goal for last year was to read 40 books. Life was busy, though, so I didn’t quite make it! Here’s what I did read:

  1. Victory in Christ (Charlest Trumball)
  2. The Dip (Seth Godin)
  3. Boy Meets Girl: Say Hello to Courtship (Josh Harris)
  4. Worldly Amusements (Wayne Wilson)
  5. Plate to Pixel (Helen Dujardin)
  6. Babylon Mystery Religion (Ralph Woodrow)
  7. Make the Bread, Buy the Butter (Jennifer Reese)
  8. The Complete Guide to Companion Planting (Dale Mayer)
  9. Natural Beekeeping (Ross Conrad)
  10. God’s Gift to Women (Eric Ludy)
  11. First Lessons in Beekeeping (Keith S. Delaplane)
  12. U.S. Marine Operations In Korea Volume II: The Inchon-Seoul Operation (Lynn & Montross)
  13. The Thinking Beekeeper (Christy Hemenway)
  14. Top-Bar Beekeeping (Crowder & Harrell)
  15. What Every Body is Saying (Joe Navarro)
  16. God’s Pursuit of Man (A. W. Tozer)
  17. To Train up a Child (Michael & Debbi Pearl)
  18. God’s Smuggler (Brother Andrew)
  19. The Little Red Book of Wisdom (Mark DeMoss)
  20. A Woman Rides the Beast (Dave Hunt)
  21. Created to Need a Help Meet (Michael Pearl)
  22. Don’t Make Me Count to Three (Ginger Plowman)
  23. Eats, Shoots & Leaves (Lynn Truss)
  24. No Greater Joy, Volume One (Michael & Debbi Peal)
  25. Tortured for Christ (Richard Wurmbrand)
  26. The Meaning of Marriage (Tim Keller)
  27. The Knowledge of the Holy (A. W. Tozer)

Demo Reel for 2013/2014:

That’s about it! We’re excited to be following our Lord in 2014 down the paths He has prepared for us!

A New Journey


Everyone, meet Samantha.

She’s a beautiful young woman who loves Jesus Christ, not content with living a typical life of striving for American comfort, and who deeply values family, natural food, and simplicity. And I have the incredible privilege of preparing to be her husband!

God works in absolutely wonderful and amazing ways — and it’s been really neat to watch Him at work in bringing us together this year. We first met about two and a half years ago, although…

Well, I’ll let you read the story for yourself. Samantha and I each wrote out our individual perspectives on our journey to and through courtship, to display the glory of God in what He’s done. The PDF (see below) is 18 pages long… But when going through to see what we could cut out for a “short” version, it was too hard to attempt figuring out what wasn’t important enough to include. So yeah, you get the “long” version.

This is a very new journey for both Samantha and I; we’ve been blessed to be surrounded by people of wisdom, and to have the Holy Spirit clearly leading. It can be a bit daunting to look and realize that we’re about to jump out into life together on our own, with a ton of responsibility and things to think about. But we’re not alone! And we’re excited to embrace those responsibilities of life as we walk this path with our Savior Jesus Christ.

Download A New Journey


Special thanks to Tyler for shooting fantastic photos for us!







Spring Is Here

For some reason, I was especially looking forward to Spring this year. Winter seemed to linger, though it really didn’t overstay its time at all; but there was a sense of anticipation as signs of the changing seasons began to gather.

And now it’s here!

Life has been too busy happening for me to think about posting on here; even shooting photos has been all but forgotten. But the peach trees bloomed yesterday, and I couldn’t miss that, right?

God has been spiritually blessing me beyond what I could ask, drawing me further into Himself and revealing His mighty hand of power and working in this world. It really is amazing to see Him in the thick of everyday life stuff. Nothing’s too small a detail to escape His notice. Nothing.

So yes, Spring is here. Seeds are being planted. Leaves and flowers are popping out everywhere. It’s freshness, a reminder of new life!





A New Book! (Kind Of… And An Updated One)



It’s been two years in the making!

Actually, it’s pretty sad that it’s taken that long. Simply Enigma, the novel I wrote during National Novel Writing Month 2010, is finally done. Most of why it’s taken so long is because editing’s happened in tiny spurts, with months in between of no action whatsoever.

But now it’s done! Thank you to the people who read & reviewed drafts: Mama, Tyler, Sage, Lydia, Kendra, Dominic, & Kyle. Some gave more feedback than others — but even little comments about enjoying aspects of the story helped keep me encouraged to finish it.

It’s the story of Mr. Jim, an elderly man living in New York City who’s very… Interesting. Not too many people keep grand pianos in their tiny apartments, anyway. Every evening after visiting his wife who has Alzheimer’s, he stops by a local diner for a glass of root beer. One evening, there’s a new kid working there — who might have more in common with Jim than either of them realize at first.

Both the paperback and Kindle Edition are available on The Kindle Edition, of course, can be read with any device that has the Kindle Reader, is DRM-free, and is available for Amazon Prime Lending as well. The paperback is also available on CreateSpace (which is no different than, except my royalty is higher).

Also! Remember the other novel I published a few years ago? Yeah… That other NaNoWriMo product that also took two years too long to complete?

It’s been updated. While adapting the story into a screenplay a couple years ago, I realized that an important story element would work much better if it was moved. So that’s what I did, along with (hopefully) improving some of the writing style. Oh, and it has a new cover, too.


My Mom Chose Death is available on: (paperback & Kindle), and CreateSpace.

I’m so excited to finally have both of these done!

For any interested bloggers out there… I’d be happy to send you a copy (either paperback or the digital Kindle edition… or PDF, if you’re really desperate) in exchange for a review of either or both of the books. Contact me if interested.

To God be the glory!


Musings & Updates from Stembridge Mill