By Shawn Lovejoy
Do you know what a knockoff is? It’s an unauthorized copy or cheap imitation of the original. And for years, I’ll admit, I was a knockoff junkie. I will confess to you that I have contributed to the counterfeit goods problem in our country.
I love New York, and often when I have visited, I make my way to Canal Street or Chinatown where street-side vendors and merchants are selling “Gucci” handbags, fake Rolex watches, fake Montblanc pens, and cheap imitations of everything you can imagine. They even have fake Nikes!
For years, I would come home from New York with multiple knockoff products, so pleased with myself that I had gotten a product exactly like the original at a fraction of the price. I was so proud of myself—for a few weeks.
You guessed it; before long those watches would stop, pens would break (or worse yet, leak ink all over the place), and the word Gucci would peel off my wife’s purse. I began to realize that a copy is no substitute for the original. There’s only one Gucci. There’s only one Rolex. There’s only one Montblanc. Their quality cannot be matched or imitated. That’s why they those products are so desirable in the first place.
So it is with vision. An original is soon discernible from an imitation. Too many people and organizations today are getting their visions from someone else’s website, blog, tweets, marketing materials, or conferences.
There are lots of reasons we should not go down this path. Today, I will just give you my top three reasons we should never rip off someone else’s vision.
1. A Ripped Off Vision Causes Us to Lose Our Voice
My friend Mark Batterson told me years ago that every pastor of a church in a community must fight to find their unique voice in the community. Why is this community better because we are here? Are we doing or offering anything that no other church is offering? If not, why not just go merge with their church? There are too many copycat churches and too many copycat corporations. Being unique helps us find our voice in the community!
2. A Ripped Off Vision Seems Less Than Genuine
A Ripped Off Vision just seems less than sincere.. Anyone that’s been around a while and has come in contact with the original can tell where we stole the vision. They can tell who we’re trying to copy. When we are not speaking a vision that God has uniquely put in our heart, our words will tend to lack the two most important features of vision: Passion & Authority.
3. A Ripped Off Vision Is Easy To Quit On.
When we haven’t gone through the grueling process of wrestling down God’s unique vision for us, when that vision is questioned or even attacked, we have no clear reference point of confidence to stand on. We will tend to give up more easily on a vision that isn’t uniquely ours. While there’s nothing wrong with being inspired by others, or learning from others, there is a problem with copying a pre-existing vision: we simply won’t protect a knockoff—a vision that’s not ours.
Don’t rip off someone else’s vision. God has something much more authentic—that’s meant just for you.
Shawn Lovejoy is the Founder & CEO of CourageToLead.com a coaching ministry for leaders. He is the author of Be Mean About The Vision: Preserving and Protecting What Matters.