How I Landed on a Life Vision Statement

by Andy Wood on July 13, 2017

in Executing Your Plan, Five LV Laws, Leadership, Life Currency, LV Cycle, Principle of Eternity, Principle of Legacy

(And You Can and Should, Too)

Travel with me to an ancient version of Death Row. A lonely old man sits in isolation – a rare occurrence for a life so well-traveled and surrounded with people. And he awaits his fate.

He’s a dead man walking.

Yet even though his body is scarred and his bones crooked from a hardened life, he doesn’t have the same despair or desperation that’s typical of someone living under a death sentence. In fact, he has – dare I say it? – a sense of satisfaction. Fulfillment. Maybe even a touch of pride.

How do I know? His own words.

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing (2 Timothy 4:6-8).

Those words from Paul have carried a new fascination for me recently.  Here was a man who know what his life was about, and lived it. He followed the course laid out for him, and he finished it.

Put in other language, Paul had a vision, and throughout his life he stubbornly, doggedly, faithfully pursued that vision.  Doing so was costly in the short run. He was routinely run out of town, beaten to a pulp, deserted by his friends, and bedeviled by danger. But to him it was a price worth paying, to get to the end of his life with two things:

  • An offering to his God, as expressed in the totality of his life.
  • A legacy for others to follow, again demonstrated in a lifetime of faithfulness.

As I mentioned, this has been turning in my heart quite a bit lately.  Though I anticipate plenty of years to come, I’ve been asking myself my own version of “death row” questions lately.

What do I want to be able to offer the Lord and leave the world? In Paul’s language, what would it mean for me to finish the race? What is my race?

How about you? How would you answer that?

Meaning-of-Life Soup

As my friends Chris McCluskey and Kim Avery love to mention, pick up any book or listen to any teacher deal with the subjects of life purpose, vision, or mission, and you’ll get different explanations or definitions that are often contradictory. Often the words are used interchangeably.  Add to that the idea of passion and values, and you have your own version of meaning-of-life soup, where all the ingredients seem to blend together.

For purposes of this post, I’m rolling with Chris and Kim’s distinctions:

Your vision has to do with the results of your life and is a life-long endeavor.

Your purpose has to do with your identity – your “who” – the person you are uniquely called and gifted to be. It’s your answer to the question, Why am I here?

Your mission(s) has to do with what you are called to DO, and you may have as many mission statements as you have roles in life.

I’ve done a lot of work over the years around what I’m calling here a purpose statement. After doing some rehashing of it a couple of years ago, I landed on this: I live [purpose] to glorify God by empowering people to fulfill their purpose. I do this [mission] by communicating truth with passion and personally encouraging others.

But all this talk of vision – of a life-long set of results, not just being and doing – left me back at a cosmic Square One.

(Pause here for a LifeVesting interlude… I’m not telling you all this so you can focus on me. I’m sharing my story so you can get your wheels turning focusing on your vision, purpose, and mission. Okay? Okay, where was I?)

Let’s Take a Trip to Your Funeral

Hang on. We’re not talking about your death. We’re talking about your life. But we’re just doing it from the perspective that you’re at the north end of it.

What do you want people to say about you? What do you want to be able to say, assuming, like Paul, you’ve finished your race and the results speak for themselves?  As I mentioned in this post, I had the chance to do this at a goal-setting seminar where the rules were pretty tight. We had 15 minutes to assume we were dead and what we wanted to be remembered for.

I dare you to try this yourself. Start a timer and fill in the blank with what you would want it to say:  (Your name) was known for…

My surprise was that I was done in five minutes, and what I wrote then still rings true today:

Andy Wood was known for:

  • Making a difference in the lives of others, beginning with his own.
  • A faithful husband, loving father, a man of God, and a man of integrity.
  • A man who was a builder, first of human lives, then of more tangible things.
  • A man who knew how to laugh, especially when others were sad or miserable.
  • A man who knew adversity and overcame it.
  • One who bred loyalty in people.
  • One who loved to create, who understood and fulfilled his life purpose, and who helped others find theirs.
  • And one who remained throughout his life a friend of children.

I pulled that out again yesterday and reexamined it. As I noted back in the day, for me all of this came down to faith, hope, and love.

How do I know that I have made a difference in the lives of others?  When they believe more, hope more, love more.

How do I know I was a faithful husband and loving father and a man of God? When my family and those who know me are encouraged and equipped to believe more, hope more, love more.

How do I know if I was a builder of human lives? When the humans I helped build believe more, hope more, love more.

Converging Those Themes

Thinking about those three questions:

  • What is my unique race to run and what would it mean for me to win it?
  • What kind of life results do I want to be able to present to God as a sacrifice and leave as a legacy for those who follow? And
  • How do I want to be remembered when I have no more memories to make?

Those three themes converged for me here:

My vision is to offer the Lord a legacy of lives I touched – who trust Him confidently, hope joyfully, and love faithfully.

Your Turn

Again, I share all that to illustrate my own process. You have yours. I just don’t want you the end of your life to be like the scene out of Saving Private Ryan, where a desperate old man is pleading with his wife, “Tell me I’ve lived a good life!” I want you to know, with as much confidence you can have, that you knew what your unique race was and that you ran it well.

The clock is ticking. Your eternity and legacy are calling.

What’s your vision?

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Lisa D Cline July 14, 2017 at 4:16 pm

Thanks so much for this very helpful information!!!

Lisa D Cline July 14, 2017 at 4:17 pm

Thanks so much for this very helpful information!! I am going to make one!
Lisa D Cline´s last blog post ..There are ni ‘ifs’…

Linda E Turner July 18, 2017 at 2:43 pm

I agree with you. Paul had a vision, and throughout her life she stubbornly, doggedly, faithfully pursued that vision. Doing so was costly in the short run. She was routinely run out of town, beaten to a pulp, deserted by her friends, and bedeviled by danger. But to her it was a price worth paying, to get to the end of her life with two things:

An offering to her God, as expressed in the totality of her life.
A legacy for others to follow, again demonstrated in a lifetime of faithfulness.

When I get to the end of this chapter of my life, I hope people will see me as someone who set aside childish ways and thought like a full person, someone who knows they are worthy of life and the life after this and the next one too. I hope people I love see me, not as a dim reflection in a mirror. I hope they shall see me face to face. I hope too that then, I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. May the people I know and love, love and know me fully and see me face to face and welcome me in the next chapters of our lives. For…as Paul writes to the Thessalonians in 4:13- 14 “Brothers, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you will not grieve like the rest, who are without hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, we also believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.” So I hope people will not be fooled by Patriarchal language that makes Paul appear dimly in a mirror as a man whom some people assume is male, just because Paul was circumcised.

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