Decades ago I felt like my life was out of control. I was busy in ministry, we were raising five children, trying to keep our marriage fresh and I felt like I was not doing any of them well. Life was a blur.
So, I signed up for a time management course. I thought that was how I would find more balance: just be more efficient. The first words out of the seminar presenter’s mouth were two questions and then a quote.
“How many of you have a written Personal Mission Statement?” Then, following a long, very uncomfortable silence…
“How many of you have ever taken an entire day in your whole life for the sole purpose of thinking through what you and God want most out of your life?”
The only sound in the room was the hum of the air conditioner. Then the presenter quoted this;
“If a man (woman) doesn’t know what harbor he’s headed for, no harbor is the right harbor.” – Lucius Seneca, a Roman Senator
Silently I answered “no” to both questions and immediately felt two competing emotions – I felt both foolish and encouraged.
I felt foolish because I had always taken several days every year with my management team to plan the future of my business. Likewise, the ministries I served almost always had annual planning meetings to chart their course. Both my business and these ministries also had written mission statements that guided all of our decisions. Yet here I was, a child of God, just winging it and wondering why I was burning out. I felt foolish.
But, I also felt encouraged because I sensed I was about to be introduced to a path that would change my life. And so are you.
Do you have a written Personal Mission Statement?
If you don’t, it doesn’t mean you’re not accomplishing some very good things in your life. Most of us are serving God and others, trying to raise our children right, working in a meaningful job, volunteering in our churches and communities, giving, worshipping – in short, being productive citizens and good Christians. But for what purpose? Of course we’re going to heaven, so that’s our final destination. But should going to heaven someday really be the purpose of our life now?
Think of the present kingdom of God as the rule of God in heaven and on earth. God, through Jesus has entrusted each of us with a sub-kingdom within his. Our sub-kingdom is all the people and resources over whom we’ve been given authority, or with whom we have an influence. You have a sub-kingdom, and your mission in life is to manage it for the glory of God and the good of his kingdom. But, how do we do that and where do we start?
Designing Your Life with the End in Mind
When an architect designs a house, he begins with the most important objectives in mind first. What do the owners want and need? What do they want their home to look like? Will it work for them 25 years from now? What are their resources? What can they afford?
Both the architect and owner begin with the end in mind. Once they visualized that, the architect can begin work on the more specific details to make the owners dream a reality. We, you and I belong to God. I don’t know if you’ve ever thought about it, but God owns you and me. As you let God reveal to you his design for your life, you’re letting God be both the owner and architect, allowing you the privilege of putting his plans on paper – beginning with the following three steps:
STEP ONE: Make plans to spend a retreat day in solitude and personal planning. Solitude is the experience of spending time alone with God to pray, reflect, appreciate, and plan your life at its deepest personal and spiritual level. This is a time for remembering the most important things in life and making critical choices to make sure that lesser things don’t rob of you of the best things. (Next week’s blog!)
STEP TWO: Begin writing your Personal Mission Statement. Your Personal Mission Statement will answer the fundamental question, “When you get to the end of your life and look back, what would define for God and yourself a life worth having lived?” It’s the very reason for your existence and a Personal Mission Statement will become the foundation for evaluating all your future priorities and plans.
STEP THREE: Write your Life Goals. Life Goals are essentially mini-mission statements, drawn from your Personal Mission Statement, which define your aspirations for six specific, major areas of most people’s lives: spiritual, spouse, children, vocation and finances, friends and extended family, and physical and mental wellness.
I thought it would be helpful to give you a snap shot of what a typical Personal Mission Statement and Life Goals actually looks like when finished, so here’s a sample:
MY PERSONAL MISSION STATEMENT: My life’s goal is to enjoy Jesus, be content with who He has made me and with the resources and gifts I’ve been given, be a godly example to my wife, children, and friends.
MY LIFE GOALS:
Spiritual Growth I desire to be a godly man, ever growing in my love for God and his truth, living a life of kindness in service to others, and leaving behind people whose lives are better off because I openly followed Jesus.
My Wife My life’s goal is to be a loving husband, willing to invest time and energy in our relationship so that she feels cherished and secure. I want our relationship to be open, intimate, and caring even as I understand life’s pressures and my ego will work to undermine these objectives.
Our Children I want to be their definition of a godly man. I want to teach them biblical truths both from Scripture and by example, and have them grow into spiritually, emotionally, and relationally healthy adults.
Vocation and Finances I would like to be remembered as a man of integrity, vision, and courage who never sacrificed his principles to advance himself. I want to pursue excellence in all I do, see my work place as my mission field, and use the resources I’ve been given to advance the work of the kingdom.
Friends and Extended Family I want to have several close friends, not just buddies. I desire a healthy relationship with my parents and siblings. I want to be known as an encourager among my friends.
Physical and Emotional Wellness I want to maintain my health without vanity and have enough recreation to be refreshed without detracting from accomplishing my other Life Goals.
Next Week: I’ll give you some ideas to help make your day alone with God more productive and also a few questions to get you started on writing your own personal mission statement.
My question for you: If you have a Personal Mission Statement, would please you share it with us?
How following Jesus works in real life.
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