By now, most of those New Year’s resolutions have been broken and forgotten, and we tend to go about our lives without focus. It’s for this reason that I suggest having a mission statement rather than just a New Year’s resolution or two.
I’ve written and spoken about this before but since I often forget to stay focused, I will talk about personal mission statements once again. Most organizations and businesses have one. Why not individuals?
What do I mean? It’s important for staying focused in life to have a personal mission statement that defines an individual’s basic purpose in life — especially in this information age where everyone and everything is trying to get our attention, time, and usually our dollars. In other words, it can prove extremely beneficial to sit down and define one’s mission and purpose in life, set goals and objectives relating to that mission and then evaluate our lives and all we do in relation to that mission and to those goals and objectives.
Adopting a personal mission statement can keep one focused on what is truly important in life and turn away attention from other, often less important, matters. Life is short and, without staying focused, a person may one day have to say he did a lot of things, none of which have any lasting significance. I’d sure hate to come to the end of my life with extensive knowledge of every television episode, movie or pop song and no knowledge of what life is really about.
My personal mission statement is adopted straight out of the pages of the Bible, Jesus’ own words: “Going, then, disciple all the people of this world, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all the things that I commanded have you …” (my own translation of Matthew 28:19-20). Certainly, there are other good mission statements. The Bible is full of passages that would work well. How about Deuteronomy 6:4-5?
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
Or, the last clause in Joshua 24:15?
As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.
Others may choose to write their own statements.
My mission statement starts at home, with my own family, and then branches out into the world to those I know and to those I have never met and maybe never will in this life. It can be used to evaluate everything I do and will certainly affect the goals and objectives I set for my life.
For example, if I seek to disciple the nations (the people and tribes of this world) for Jesus Christ by going, baptizing and teaching, I first need to be a disciple of Jesus myself and that involves studying the Scriptures, praying, and sharing what I have been taught from the Bible. That also means my objectives will include making time for study and prayer and also for going out and sharing.
In line with that, one of my goals as a student of the Bible is to continue working on reading and studying the Scriptures in their original languages, which requires some dedication and persistence on my part in doing more and more studying in Greek and Hebrew again.
My mission statement will affect how I use and spend my income, what I do with my time and how I relate to others around me. That doesn’t mean I must take a vow of poverty or become a monk in a remote monastery and do nothing but pray and read from ancient parchments, but it means the focus of my use of time and money is going to be toward accomplishing my mission and purpose here in this world.
Yes, it can even affect such things as diet and exercise. No, I won’t become a bodybuilder or health freak who denies the truth of Genesis 3. But without a healthy diet and adequate exercise, I’ll have a hard time carrying out my mission, so diet and exercise are important. Perhaps, if I consider them in light of my mission statement, meeting those goals and objectives will become easier.
It is connected to my relationship with my wife and our children because discipleship starts at home and with those closest to us. My wife and I have more than a few children for whom we have much love and concern — 15 children between us, 30-something grandchildren (I always lose track and then have to do a recount) — and that is quite a mission field in itself.
We want the best for them all, but our foremost wish and desire is that they all know their Maker and Redeemer and live in fellowship with Him, both here in this world and in eternity. We live to impart to each of them a knowledge of the LORD God and of the salvation He has provided for them (and for all) through the innocent sufferings, death and resurrection of the Son, Jesus Christ.
That desire extends, of course, to our church and all its members, to those with whom we have contact in our jobs, and to all the nations and peoples of this world.
My prayer is that of the psalmist: “O God, thou hast taught me from my youth: and hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works. Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come” (Psalm 71:17-18 KJV).
Yes, I have gotten sidetracked at times — a lot more often than I care to admit — and the result is a lot of busyness and activity in things that really don’t matter much in the long run. For this, I’ve also repeatedly turned to Christ Jesus in repentance and received His forgiveness. Then, instead of continuing to dwell on weaknesses, failures and much wasted time and energy, I try to put that behind me and get focused again on what my true mission and purpose is in this world.
St. Paul wrote to the Philippians: “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13-14 KJV).
God grant to you His guidance and blessing as you consider setting a mission statement to guide you in your life. Make it a good one!
This is Pastor Randy Moll from Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Rogers, Arkansas.