MacDonald describes a corporate organisation where ALL the employees – even the postroom guys – could repeat verbatim the company mission statement. It brought him to realise the power of every member of an organisation understanding ‘in the most simple terms why it opens its doors each day, what is supposed to happen, and how each person can maximise his or her contribution to the overall effort’.
Business organisations usually have a mission or vision statement. So do churches. So does the church where I lead. The bit I’m less sure about is whether anyone at our church can actually repeat ours.
Just for the record, while I’m on the topic of what I’m not sure of, I confess also to not being sure of the difference between mission and vision. Fortunately, no one else seems too sure…they can’t all agree about it anyway. This seems like a good enough justification to me for not caring too much.
With that out of the way, I could now face the implication of our church not being able to repeat our vision/mission statement (we call it ‘who we want to be’ as a way of bypassing the definition issue!). But that’s not something I feel equipped to say anything intelligent about yet. I am too new to this; I have so little idea about getting the vision into the DNA of the people so that they are transformed. Please God that I may come to learn this.
But to transform my own DNA, to live my own life to a missional calling: that, surely, is more achievable. Isn’t it? Well, I guess that I only have to align one life, mine, to that mission…but we all know how hard it is to live consistently, even to our own low standards! ‘Souls’, writes MacDonald, ‘tend to drift. They shouldn’t; they weren’t created to; but they do.’
So I too need a sense of mission, a regularly reaffirmed sense of direction for my soul, a re-aligning with what is the Creator’s foundation for my life. Part of that foundation, of course, is about living out of my exalted position as a human being created in the image of God and, to that extent, my life direction is the same as yours. I am called to live in dependence upon the Spirit, being in Christ and bringing glory to the Father. (See what you get for a theology degree these days…)
But I believe that I am also created as a unique being; God planned in advance good works for me to do and I don’t think they are the same as yours. They’re no more or less important; they’re just different. But if I don’t do them, then I have missed something of what God wanted for me as I lived out of his grace on earth.
So how do I make sure that I live the life he has designed for me, rather than suffering from sin-produced soul drift? Well, MacDonald suggests that I need to pray and reflect on what my personal mission might be. He offers various ideas for what elements might constitute that mission. He talks about the need for this to be polished and finetuned over a period of years.
But he doesn’t give me the answers. And I sort of wish he would. It’d be easier if someone else would just tell me what God’s plans are and what are the stories of hope and redemption that he’s dreaming over me. I hate listening to God. I love hearing him but I really hate the discipline of listening, especially when he’s silent (or maybe it’s just that I am too loud). So I know that I need to start listening…particularly now as I come to something of a new stage in my God-walk.
In fact, I am challenged that this blogging does not simply become the intellectual reflective posturings of a leader who reads but that I do something with what I read. And so, though I think I have a good sense of God’s mission for me, I commit to listen to him in this season of change. Call it an opportunity for course correction, if you like; a check that soul drift has not set in. It’s necessary because though a one degree shift in direction may not feel like much now, it’d take me a long way off course by the time I’m 85. And that would be a real failure in the art of steering!