Your Mission in Life
By Dan Vis
July 02, 2018

I was fortunate to have some friends take me under their wings when I first became a Christian, and teach me the basics of discipleship. I learned how to pray, study, memorize God's Word, and much more. I will be forever thankful for that training.

One of the things they encouraged me to do, was to adopt a personal mission statement. They explained that spending time alone with God to discern His purpose for my life, and then summarizing that purpose in a single sentence, would be a great help in steering my life. I could memorize it, apply it instantly to every significant decision I faced, and thus stay focused on Christ's will for me.

“A personal mission statement can steer us through the many transitions of life.”

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I tried it, and it worked exactly as promised. It was like a big rudder on the great ship of life.

Biblical Examples

I'm not sure any of the Bible writers did this exactly, but there are a number of verses that seem to capture the "mission statements" of various Bible characters quite well. John the Baptist clearly understood his mission and expressed it in these words: "He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30He must increase, but I must decrease.). You can find a good mission statement for Jesus in the very next chapter: "My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work" (John 4:34Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.). Paul articulated his mission as a minister this way: "We preach [Christ] warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus" (Colossians 1:28Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:).

David is another great example. Here is how he expressed his singular yearning for God: "One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple" (Psalms 27:4One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple.). As he grew older, his life mission shifted a bit: "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" (Psalms 71:18Now also when I am old and greyheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come.). Our mission statement may shift as we go through various stages of life as well.

My Journey In Mission

My own mission statement has changed through the years. I initially adopted a mission statement suggested by a ministry leader I respected:

To know, love and glorify God, and be used of Him to raise up qualified laborers in significant numbers as fast as possible to help fulfil the Great Commission.

Some time soon after, a good friend with a great passion for the poor shared how he had added a phrase about ministering to the multitudes. So I added it to mine as well:

To know, love and glorify God, and be used of Him to raise up qualified laborers in significant numbers as fast as possible to help fulfil the Great Commission, while ministering to the needs of many.

After I got married, I decided to add another phrase:

To know, love and glorify God, and be used of Him to raise up qualified laborers in significant numbers as fast as possible to help fulfil the Great Commission, while ministering to the needs of many and to lead my family to do the same.

This worked for a number of years, but I eventually started to feel it was a bit wordy, and I wanted something simpler. Somewhere I read this statement which I really liked: "To know Christ and make Christ known". But it lacked the detail I wanted. I also wanted something more personal, something in my own words. I eventually came up with this:

To know Christ intimately through a life of diligent discipleship while focusing my life towards the task of making disciples".

I finally had a statement that was truly mine, and it captured my understanding of God's purpose for me better than anything up to that point. And it served well for a number of years. But over time, God began to teach me more about the importance of small duties--so it went through a critical revision:

To know Christ intimately through a life of diligent discipleship while fulfilling every God-given responsibility with excellence, and focusing my life towards the task of making disciples.

This particular statement served as a powerful source of direction in my life for more than a decade, guiding me through a number of important life transitions. Together with the various earlier iterations of it, it brought a clarity and purpose to my life I don't think I would have had otherwise. The impact was huge.

“The impact of clarity and purpose on our life is huge.”

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How To Write a Mission Statement

There's no magic formula for writing out a mission statement, nor is there any perfect articulation. While God has a general will for all His created beings, He has a specific purpose for each of our lives. And it is a part of our Christian journey to seek out and grow in our understanding of what that purpose is.

Having said that there are a few steps you can take to write out your mission statement:

1) Set aside some extended time alone with God. Spend plenty of time in prayer and study to get "in tune" with God before attempting to write out your mission statement.

2) Ask God to guide you. Trust His willingness to reveal your reason for existence. He made you. He has a plan for you. And He is eager for you to cooperate with Him in fulfilling that plan.

3) Identify your gifts and abilities. What activities motivate and energize you? What are your core values, beliefs? Your current life goals and priorities? Where have you enjoyed your greatest past successes? Our mission is often linked to the unique way God has made us.

4) Remember that your life mission statement is not some goal you choose for yourself. It is an exercise in attempting to discern God's purpose for you. Listen for His still small voice speaking to you through inspired sources.

5) Start writing. Try to keep it simple but specific. Do a couple different versions and then take the best from each. Combine all the best components into no more than a single sentence.

Once you have a mission statement you feel comfortable with, memorize it and review it daily. If you use cards for your verses, write it out on a card and slip it in your verse pack. If not,post it somewhere you will see it often. Then practice using your statement when confronted with a choice. Use it to evaluate goals and priorities. Look for ways to take specific steps to inch towards your mission every day. Little by little it will begin to create big change.

Be patient in this process, and expect your mission statement to go through a few revisions. And as noted above, it may shift as you go through the various seasons of life. Set aside time every so often to review your mission statement to make sure it still inspires and motivates you. Update it as your understanding grows.

Conclusion

My personal journey is certainly not over. After becoming a pastor, my mission statement changed again to something even more inspiring (for me, at least). And I continue to seek God on a regular basis, anticipating and listening for Him to reveal even clearer perceptions of life and duty. And He continues to teach me.

This process has been an important part of my Christian journey. Give it a try, and you may just find it a valuable part of yours as well.


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