Monday, October 19, 2015

What’s Your Mission?

Are you on a mission? If so, what is it?

“He (or she) is on a mission.” How often have we heard someone described that way? We use this phrase in a variety of ways – a person determined to achieve a goal; an athlete striving for victory, or someone seeking to further a cherished agenda. An interesting word, “mission.”

Decades ago, when NASA and the American space program were making news almost daily, we often heard about “mission control,” as well as various space missions, whether orbiting the earth or going to the moon. Today people talk about taking a mission trip to a foreign land. Members of one religious sect devote a couple of years to a “mission,” setting aside education and careers during that period. Businesses of all sizes draft mission statements that express their reason for existence, along with the how’s and why’s of what they do.

Like this sandpiper on a Florida beach, the waves of
life can toss us about if we're not firmly grounded.
But have you ever viewed your own life as being on a mission – or even took the time to define what your mission is? Years ago I was at a conference where the discussion turned to developing a personal mission statement. “What is your purpose?” some asked. “What do you think is God’s reason for you being here?”

Deep questions for many of us. Until then, the idea of having a personal “mission” had never crossed my mind. Like many people, being married, having children, and pursuing a career were sufficient rationale for who I was and what I did. But having an articulated personal mission statement, I learned, could help provide focus for my life, in both the big picture and smaller details. It also can provide clarification when making key decisions.

So I set about crafting such a declaration. Actually, someone helped me when he read a verse from the Amplified Version of the Bible. The passage, Philippians 3:10, was an elaboration on what the apostle Paul had written. The portion that impressed me the most stated:

“For my determined purpose is that I may know Him (Jesus Christ) – that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly.”

As I pondered these words, it occurred to me that “knowing Christ” meant more than an intellectual exercise. Becoming “more deeply and intimately acquainted” involved more than just perceiving the character of who Jesus was – and is. It meant desiring and allowing that relationship to express itself through my life in every way possible. So as the passage stated, my “determined purpose” – my mission – meant becoming so closely identified with Him that it couldn’t help but be evident to others.

Then I came across another passage that more sharply defined how this personal mission statement would be manifested in my life vocationally: “My heart is overflowing with a good theme; I recite my composition concerning the King; my tongue is the pen of a ready writer” (Psalm 45:1).

Since then it’s been my intent to communicate through writing, in as many ways as possible, what I understand as God’s truth, hoping to help others discover how to relate it to their own lives.

Of course, just as the mission of one company is different from that of another, even within the same industry, a personal mission statement should be unique for each of us. The question is, what is your mission. Have you ever thought about it?

Is it necessary to have a formalized expression of one’s personal mission? No. I’d venture to say for many people the idea has never occurred to them. Most of us go from one day to the next, acting upon opportunities, responding to challenges, and tackling everyday tasks without much thought about how they all fit into the grand scheme of our lives.

But taking the time to assess one’s life, in terms of passion, gifts and abilities, as well as trying to discern a sense of calling, certainly can’t hurt. As with a business, it could help in determining questions such as: Where am I going? How am I going to get there? And, how will I know when I’ve arrived? And the best way to answer those questions is to seek wisdom from God.

The alternative, too often, is to be like the description the apostle James put forth: “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God…. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind” (James 1:5-6).

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not let my life be blown and tossed about by life’s circumstances, one day waking up and asking, “How in the world did I get here?”

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