Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Knowing Your Vision

Written by: on April 15, 2024

I have been married for nearly twenty-six years and have four beautiful children.  Just over thirteen years ago, I sat down and wrote out a vision. I started it As a follower of Christ  Jesus, I want to have my family impact the world in a way that brings glory and honor to Christ, I want the world to see Christ through my family (Phil. 2:12-18).  I then proceeded to write how I was going to accomplish this vision which included ways to love and lead my wife and love and lead my children.  I thought about this vision statement while reading to Shane Parrish’s book Clear Thinking and listening to two podcasts on which he appeared.[1]

In his book, Parrish discusses how we can spend time and energy making big decisions like where to go to college, who to marry, etc., but that it is really the small day to day, moment by moment decisions we make that have the larger impact.  For example, If I choose to start a doctoral program (a pretty big decision) but decide to sleep in on Monday mornings and miss the weekly meetings with Dr. Clark and the cohort, I am not going to succeed in the program.  Parrish talks about how we have four defaults that we rely on to engage in decision making.[2] These defaults are similar to Kahneman’s System 1 Thinking[3]  The defaults Parrish describes are

  1. The emotion default: we tend to respond to feelings rather than reasons and facts (I don’t feel like getting up).
  2. The ego default: we tend to react to anything that threatens our sense of self-worth or our position in a group hierarchy (I’m getting a doctoral degree so my students and co-workers better respect me).
  3. The social default: we tend to conform to the norms of our larger social group (no one else is wearing a mask or social distancing, I don’t want to look weird).
  4. The inertia default: we’re habit forming and comfort seeking.  We tend to resist change, and to prefer ideas, processes, and environments that are familiar (I cannot comply with this new policy, it does not make sense, I do not like it, and it is too hard to change what I have been doing for years).[4]

When we rely on these defaults Parrish suggests we don’t always make the best judgements.  He states “Most errors in judgement happen when we don’t know we’re supposed to be exercising judgement.  They happen because our subconscious is driving our behavior and cutting us out of the process of determining what we should do.”[5]  We need to engage in Kahneman’s System 2 Thinking or as David Rock might suggest, bring the correct actor’s up onto the stage.[6]  Parrish says that we do this by implementing safeguards that allow good decision making to be the “path of least resistance.”[7] Throughout the book Parrish discusses how to implement safeguards at each step of the decision making process.  Including “fail-safe” measure that are put into place once a decision is made.[8]


Parrish says that good decision making comes down to two things: “Knowing how to get what you want” and “Knowing what’s worth wanting.”[9]  For me, what’s worth wanting relates back to my vision, my focus was not on having the best job or the nicest house.  I wanted a family who loved the Lord and enjoyed spending time with one another.  My plans for accomplishing this were not perfect, but my wife and I invested time and energy into our marriage and into each child.  I took jobs that were not always the highest paying, but the schedule allowed me to be home almost every evening so that we could have dinner together as a family.  At the dinner table we did a daily devotional and spent time sharing our ups and downs of the day and prayer requests.  We had family game nights and family camping trips, most of which seemed to involve camping in the rain.  My wife and I invested in our marriage by having some date nights and weekends away.  We made spending time with God and with one another a priority. In church yesterday I was reminded of two passages in the Bible. “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain”, and “But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.  If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light.  It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work.”[10]  While I know Paul is talking about the church, I feel that this applies to building my family.  I believe that my wife and I have laid a solid foundation focusing and relying on Jesus.  I believe that we have used the right building materials to accomplish my vision. I believe that with God’s grace our family does bring glory and honor to Christ, and I believe that the world does see Christ reflected in us.



[1] Parrish, Clear Thinking, (New York, NY: Latticework Publishing, 2023); Passmore and Felix,  “Shane Parrish: Clear Thinking in Everyday Life,”  November 23, 2023, in Rational Remind, produced by PWL Capital, podcast.  YouTube, 1:03:28, Shttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kspEzVKvWHs; Finck, “Clear Thinking with Shane Parrish (Tip580),”  October 5, 2023, in We Study Billionaires, produced by The Investors Podcast Network, podcast, YouTube, 55:23, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U9SY_M5CXTo.

[2] Parrish, 10.

[3] Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow, (Canada: Anchor Canada, 2013), 20-21.

[4] Parrish, 10-11.

[5] Parrish, 245.

[6] Kahneman, 14; Rock, Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long, (New York, NY: Harper Collings, 2009), 14

[7] Parrish, 246.

[8] Parrish, 204.

[9] Parrish, 221.

[10] Psalm 127:1; I Corinthians 3:10b-13.

About the Author

Jeff Styer

Jeff Styer lives in Northeast Ohio's Amish Country. He has degrees in Social Work and Psychology and currently works as a professor of social work at Mount Vernon Nazarene University. Jeff is married to his wife, Veronica, 25+ years. Together they have 4 beautiful children (to be honest, Jeff has 4 kids, Veronica says she is raising 5). Jeff loves the outdoors, including biking, hiking, camping, birding, and recently picked up disc golf.

9 responses to “Knowing Your Vision”

  1. Diane Tuttle says:

    Hi Jeff, I love your vision for your family and how you see it working out with the intentional effort you and your wife put into it. One of the things I started wondering as I read it is if you have any opportunity to share that the concept of a vision for a family in your sociology classes. What a way to strengthen marriage and family systems if the things you were doing intentionally we considered the normal and expected way to be in relationship and family.

  2. Elysse Burns says:

    Hi Jeff, I share Diane’s appreciation of your vision for your family and your investment in the “ordinary moments.” Parrish explains there are no hard edges between defaults, but is there a specific default you feel you have been able to be victorious over?

    • Jeff Styer says:

      I cannot claim total victory over any of these, but over the years, I have had success with mastering the ego default. I try to maintain an attitude of humility. I have not made it widely known to others that I am pursuing a doctoral degree. I could easily do that with my students saying “you think you have it hard, let me tell you what I have to do each week.” I don’t really care how students address me. So, in some ways I’m good at letting go of my ego, until I start arguing with a stranger about the name of a body of water flowing nearby. It really wasn’t an argument, I just corrected the person when in all reality, it didn’t matter. I walked away frustrated with myself. So maybe part of my mastery is realizing when I’ve defaulted back to my ego.

  3. Adam Cheney says:

    Good job relating this book back to the vision you wrote out. I am wondering what led you to write out the family vision years ago?

  4. mm Shela Sullivan says:

    Hi Jeff,
    As a lecturer, have you seen the impact of small, day-to-day decisions overshadowing a major decision, as discussed by Parrish, and how did you navigate the defaults Parrish describes in that situation?

    • Jeff Styer says:

      On Thursday evenings I teach class from 6-9 and the students don’t like the class (social policy) and they are tired from their week. I too am tired from the week and sometimes I give in to the group mentality and let them go earlier than I should. I’m not sure how this will play out yet, but everything I do in the classroom, how prepared I am, how well I lecture, etc. impacts my evaluations which will impact my ability to be promoted. My evaluations last semester were not stellar (same groups a students and another class they don’t want to take).

  5. Chad Warren says:

    Jeff, thank you for your post and the way you interacted with Parrish’s thoughts. Could you say more about why you were thinking of your vision statement and why Parrish’s work triggered that?

    • Jeff Styer says:


      In the two podcasts that Parrish appeared on he talked about goals. His goal is to accumulate wealth, but talked about how that wasn’t necessarily money, but more about a good family. He talked about how his schedule allows for him to be home everyday when his kids get home. Not that as teens they need to be baby sat but more to just make himself available. So it was listening to his definition of wealth as a goal that reminded me of my vision.

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