1. A Burden - Nehemiah's vision was birthed by seeing the problem (the city of Jerusalem was destroyed and the walls were broken down). When Nehemiah looked at the problem God's people were facing, he felt the burden of the Lord.
2. A Challenge - It wasn't until David had to face Goliath, that David became David. That challenge was his defining moment. Out of the challenge, David's life message and true vision was established.
3. A Prophetic Word - Paul received a prophetic 'word' about the calling he had to reach the Gentiles. He was called prophetically to leave the church in Antioch and plant churches throughout Asia.
4. A Personal Experience - one way that this works is that you have an opportunity to personally experience something that imprints upon you a vision of what is possible. The disciples had experience the miracle working ministry of Jesus. It was easier for them to see the vision for that in their own lives.
5. A Contagious Experience - getting around a person of vision can rub off on you. There is an infectious affect that can be imparted when we get around someone passion and success.
God always begins his work with vision. God speaks. God acts. God speaks again. This is the cycle of how he operates in the world. He wants to speak to us and give us a vision of what He wants to do.
True vision is the work of the Holy Spirit. It's not something that we can just come up with on our own. There must be a work of the Spirit in us where the Holy Spirit births a picture of what He is about to do on the earth and in the sphere of our influence.
This kind of Holy Spirit vision is birthed only as we take the time to seek the Lord. There also is a powerful dynamic released when we have people agree with us and pray over us for the vision that we long for to be released.