Is it Time to Review (or Create) Your Mission Statement?

by Andy Wood on March 2, 2015

in Exploring the Possibilities, Five LV Laws, Insight, Life Currency, LV Cycle, Principle of Eternity, Time

Old compass on the beach with sand and sea

President Woodrow Wilson once said, “You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forgot the errand.”

Have you forgotten the errand lately?  Maybe it’s time for a look under the hood.

At least it is for me.  And maybe for you, too.

I’m involved in some pretty big initiatives lately (you’ll be seeing more of that soon).  And those initiatives are added to an already-very-busy life. Never a day goes by when I don’t lay my head on the pillow with plenty more to do tomorrow that I left undone today.  Most days I’m fine with that.  But lately in the middle of all the time and resource challenges I’ve found myself frustrated, more tired than I should be, and actually feeling anxious about some things that should have me feeling excited and hopeful.  And in the middle it all is this nagging question:

Is this really what I’m about?

That brings me back to something I’ve been pretty passionate about for a long time – a clearly-defined sense of personal mission or purpose.

What’s All This Personal Mission Stuff?

I’m pretty sure Steven Covey first popularized the idea of a personal mission statement in his book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.  But the idea of clearly defining your purpose is as old as the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve could have could have had this engraved on their wedding manual:

We live to be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.

Abraham’s mission statement could simply have read, “to be a conduit through which all the nations of the earth can be blessed.

How’s this for Moses?  My purpose is to deliver God’s people from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up to a good and spacious land.

King David:  The purpose of my life is to demonstrate God’s power, to celebrate God’s glory, and to lead God’s people, so that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.

Jeremiah:  My purpose is to be God’s voice to the nations to tear down false faith and restore and rebuild faith in the one true God.

Jesus Himself said, I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

Finally, here’s what Paul said of his life mission:  to become all things to all men that I might by all means save some.

Each person – even those with the same God, same “master purpose” in creation, found a way to express his own unique expression of life purpose.  So should I.  So should you.

None of this is new to me.  But lately I’ve been so stuck on busy, filled with my “what” that I have found it easy to lose sight of the “why.”  So I’ve been spending some thoughtful and prayerful time reconnecting with purpose.  And I suggest you do the same.

How do you know it’s time to review your mission or purpose statement?  Here are five indicators:

1. When all your busyness doesn’t get you any closer to realizing what you say your life purpose is.

Picture David, out there on the field with the giant, huffing and puffing about God. Picture him trying on Saul’s armor, arguing with his brothers, taking a selfie with the king’s daughter, even going to military school.  All of those things may have their place.  But at some point he had to hurl a rock at Goliath’s fat head.

I don’t have to ask you if you’re busy. We both know the answer to that. But is your flurry of activity actually getting you closer to actualizing your life purpose?  I don’t mean are you talking about it.  Are you moving toward it?

2. When you’ve experienced significant changes or challenges.

Life is filled with new assignments, job descriptions, or challenges.  Just ask Paul about that when you meet him.  It’s one thing for him to satisfy his purpose when he’s preaching in a synagogue or planting a new church.  But he also spent quite a few years in the jailhouse.  Did that change his purpose? No.  But it did cause him to rethink how to apply it.

Your loss of a job, retirement, relocation, or grief situation haven’t changed your purpose, but may have changed how you interpret or express it.  Maybe it’s time to take a look.

3. When you’re living with a nagging sense of frustration or dissatisfaction.

There is a good kind of tired and a frustrating one.  The good kind of tired is when you are giving yourself to a cause or purpose that satisfies an internal compass.  That sense of satisfaction makes the sacrifices, labor, heartbreak or disappointments worth it.  That’s what scripture means whet the writer of Hebrews says that Jesus, “for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame.”

But not all sacrifices bring that kind of joy or satisfaction.  And if you’re not experiencing that inner joy in the face of all you are investing your time in, it’s time for another look at your purpose.

4. When you’re distracted by procrastination or haunted by unfinished business.

I’m a master procrastinator, and I’ve known some people that I would swear could name it as their spiritual gift.  But when procrastination turns into a universe of unfinished business that frustrates or taunts you, it may be time for a second look.  The problem here isn’t that something is wrong with your purpose statement – but something is terribly wrong with your connection to it.

Like many organizations, a purpose statement can just become words on a wall or in a book, with no meaning or connection to your every-day life.  And if that’s true, it may be time to change your every-day life.

5. When you’re drowning in mediocrity or complacency.

Where you is is where you is.  But if where you is today is the same as where you wuz yesterday or last year, then where you is needs to be somewhere else.  Get off your butt and quit making excuses.

But don’t make the mistake that many people do and get busy just for the sake of getting busy.  Press on, but make sure your pressing on is toward your prize, not somebody else’s.

 

Care to guess how many of these I found applied to me? [Hint: Who do you think I’ve been writing to all this time?]

How about you?  Is it time to review or reconnect with your mission statement? Do you even have one?  In the next post I’ll show you what I did with mine and how you can develop your own.

Why are you here, anyway?

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