What do you think of when you hear the term, “mission statement”? A dull paragraph on an organizational website? Something you once wrote for yourself as an assignment in school but long forgot? A summary of claims that have nothing at all to do with lived reality? Words that are used for window dressing?
When I think of a mission statement, I think of a vibrant phrase that resonates in the heart and motivates a person or perhaps a bunch of people to act decisively in a purposeful, principled, persevering way.
Grammatically the term “mission statement” is a noun. But functionally it is a verb. The whole point in having a mission statement lies in DOING it. It’s not meant to be a mere statement that exists without being enacted. It’s a mission statement, a description of one’s mission. It’s a vital action plan.
When I write mission statements, I engage clients in deep dialogue. I listen until I discern what’s in their core. I wait until I sense their Spirit-given passion, and then I put words to that passion. It’s such a sacred process that it often involves tears of quiet joy or elation.
Some time ago I met with a woman whom I’ll call “Sandy” who experienced a tragic loss in her family along with other layers of trauma regarding her kids. Sandy has rooted, strong faith. It can be daunting to talk with her because she trusts God in the throes of retching pain. Generally speaking, she does not deny reality. She does not smooth over things. Somehow all at once, she is soft, resilient and commanding. Physically she just looks like somebody’s wife. Somebody’s mom. In my opinion, no one would ever guess by gazing at Sandy that the verbal phrase in her life mission statement is to “wield power.”
Now let me introduce you (on paper) to “Sandy.” She is extroverted and warm and relationally pastoral, yet highly confrontational face to face. Sandy has empathy, finesse, and holy boldness. She sits across from you at the table and stares you in the eye with penetrating spiritual force. Next thing you know, you’ve lost track of your excuses. Even your best excuses don’t work.
Here’s the special beauty of Sandy’s missional giftedness: You are not caught by her. Rather, you are freed!
Consider Sandy’s mission statement:
To wield moral power that severs people from their excuses
Of course, Sandy is just a woman. She is not the Holy Spirit. She is not the one who convicts or liberates people. But Sandy is a woman of God, and God uses her as a vessel mightily. When Sandy shows the full color of her plume, so to speak, people get released from the tyranny of their excuses. Sandy somehow helps them to be honest.
Do you think it takes moral courage for Sandy to do her mission statement? It requires a lot of courage! So let’s all pray for Sandy. And let’s start fresh again today. Let’s refrain from making excuses somewhere within ourselves that say, “I can’t do my mission statement” or “We can’t do our mission statement” because of this or that.
Thanks to Sandy, we’re reminded that our excuses are our own. They’re not from God.
Lord, please quicken our hearts and give us spiritual eyes to see clearly any excuse we might ever subtly make to avoid the risks of living out our mission statement. Please help us to repent, so that we might spark a movement of humble repentance and moral courage in the Church. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN.