Pastor John, we’ve talked a lot on this podcast about personal productivity. That brings us to today’s question, from a listener named Paul who lives in Soria, Spain. Paul writes this: “Hello Pastor John and thank you for this podcast! In episode 839 you mention the importance of writing a personal mission statement for our lives with the aim of improving personal productivity. I agree completely, but I find this task very daunting. So how do I, the average lay Christian, come up with a personal mission statement? Should we be oriented to strengths and talents? Focused on the roles? Should we primarily focus on the spiritual needs of the church, both locally and globally? How do we keep this statement from becoming so broad that we become overwhelmed to the point that it doesn’t help us focus our energies? Any help would be appreciated”.
When I read the Bible, there is no way to miss the constant teaching that God has purposes. He has goals in everything he does. He is not a God who goes from here to there aimlessly. He doesn’t go in circles. The God of the Bible is seeking to fully achieve his own counsel. Isaiah says:
«Because I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, whoI declare the end from the beginning, and from ancient times what has not been done. I say: “My purpose will be established, and whatever I want I will do’” (Isaiah 46:9-10).
There it is: “Everything I want I will do.” God has purposes; he has plans.
«As I had thought, so it has happened; just as he had planned, so it will come to pass” (Isaiah 14:24).
“Have you not heard? It’s been a long time since I did since ancient times he had planned it. Now I have made it happen” (Isaiah 37:26).
If God wasn’t a planner, if he didn’t have purposes and goals, I don’t think we would have the gospel, salvation, or eternal joy. In Acts we are told that all the enemies of God gathered in Jerusalem at the crucifixion of Jesus “to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose had ordained to come to pass” (Acts 4:27-28).
Stepping back and contemplating that vision of a planning, purposeful God has the effect of leading me to very serious questions like: well, what is God’s ultimate goal? I’m sure he has millions of sub-goals and sub-purposes in everything he does. I like to say that God is doing ten thousand things that we know nothing about. Most of those objectives and purposes have been veiled from us. But what has He revealed as the main or final purpose of it? Where is everything going? That is the question that has burned with me since I was twenty-two years old and became a lover of the God who orders everything and plans everything.
Then the next question is: well, if I could discern what God’s ultimate goal is, how can I join Him in that goal? I want to fit into his ultimate purpose. I don’t want to fight it. I want to be in tune with what God is looking to do in the world. Nothing seems to me more obviously reasonable or hopeful than the fact that God’s creatures fit nicely into his purposes. Without a doubt, that is his call to us. That is what He is asking us to do: “Find my purpose and join it.” So that’s my second question: is there a way to join God’s purpose once I’ve figured out what his ultimate purpose is?
Then the question is: How do I do everything I’m doing to help achieve the final goal or so that I can be used by God to achieve it? I want everything, not just a few things, but all what I do contributes in some way to that purpose. That’s why I find mission statements useful. They keep me focused on the big things in life.
Aim for the big picture
But let me give us a caveat on this: I think the particularities of life are too variable for our mission statement to be very detailed. I know our friend asked not to be too general. However, it might disappoint you, as there are great, great, general purposes that I think would be very useful if they are of the right type.
So the more specifics about yourself and your circumstances you include, the more short-term your statement will be, because there are a lot of changes, right? You change. Your job changes. You have children. you get sick You move. Oh! Life is so variable that if you include things about yourself in your mission, things about your circumstances that are going to change relatively quickly, then you will have to keep changing your mission statement all the time. In all likelihood, that’s not much help.
What goals can I have that are in tune with God’s goals and are so clearly biblical that they don’t change?
Therefore, if you want your mission statement to last more than a few years, it should be general and high level. That is what is primarily on my mind when I think about my own statements that guide my life. I need to be regularly reminded of the big picture of life: what is it all about? What goals can I have that are in tune with God’s goals and are so clearly biblical that they don’t change?
Let me give you a quick process to arrive at such a statement and then you can tailor it to your situation.
Discover the main objectives
In those crucial years of discovery for me (the years that changed my life from twenty-two to twenty-five), what I saw and could not deny, and have never changed my mind since, is that God is infinitely full of every perfection and it cannot be improved. He is the sum of all excellence, all beauty, all value, and all greatness, so his purpose never includes people who advise, add, improve, or meet his needs, since he has none.
Rather, what I saw is that He is the kind of God whose primary goal is for His fullness, completeness, and perfection to overflow to communicate to me all His greatness, beauty, value, and excellence that satisfy me. In other words, God’s primary purpose is to be seen, enjoyed, and displayed (those are my three favorite words to describe him). God’s primary purpose is to be seen, enjoyed, and displayed as infinitely glorious. That is the main purpose of it.
By the way, this is not megalomania because God’s communication of himself, in all his glory, is what the human soul needs to be satisfied. So God is the only being in the entire universe, and He is the only such, for whom self-communication and self-exaltation is the highest virtue and the most loving act.
“Bring My children from afar and to My daughters from the ends of the earth, everyone who is called by my name and whom I have created for My glory” (Isaiah 43:6-7).
Therefore, the first thing He teaches us to pray over and over again is “Hallowed be Your name” (Mt 6:9), that is, may His name be glorified, treasured, loved, honored, praised, admired, and enjoyed. Hallowed be thy name. That is the first and most important cry of every saint every day: “Make me a means, God, please, make me a means of communication and display of your beauty, value and greatness.” That is, “May others hallow your name because I exist.” That’s why we were born. To me, that is the essence of any biblical personal mission statement as it relates to God’s ultimate purpose. So that’s where I start.
join the choir
The question is, then: how? How can I live like this? How can I join the achievement of that purpose? The Bible seems to offer countless answers:
- Whether you eat or drink, do everything for the glory of God (1 Cor 10:31).
- Give thanks for the glory of God (1 Thes 5:18).
- Confess Jesus to the glory of God (Rom 10:9).
- Do good works so that God may be glorified (1 Pet 2:12).
- Accept one another for the glory of God (Rom 15:7).
- Be generous to the poor for the glory of God (Rom 12:13).
So on. I have other texts listed here, but they are in multiple parts. Everything we should do with our body, mind, and heart should be something that makes God look glorious, because He really is. We are helping people see him, taste him, and show him what he really is like.
Depends on God
So, finally, the question is: Is there a common denominator that runs through all those actions, all those attitudes, all those words, that turn them into acts that glorify God? How come everything I do turns into praise? How is it that everything I do becomes a display of God’s greatness, beauty, and worth? The answer is given, for example (there are other places):
“He who serves, let him do it by the strength that God gives, so that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 4:11).
Peter says that if all you do is service, then let the service be in dependence on God’s all-sufficient grace in your life, so that when you accomplish what you just tried to do, you do it in his strength to May He get the glory. You get the ability, the power, the guidance, and the strength, and He gets the glory. When we joyfully depend on God in all that we do in service to others, God looks glorious in our lives.
When we joyfully depend on God in all that we do in service to others, God looks glorious in our lives.
We see the same thing in this other passage: that every work be a “work of faith with power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you” (2 Thess 1:11-12). That’s the same point Peter makes (1 Pet 4): We do what we do joyfully trusting God for all we need in order to love people. In other words, we live by faith in the promises of God in the service of love.
Make the adjustments for you
So I would say craft your life mission statement with this in mind long before you get to the details of your own gifts and your own calling.
- God is infinitely glorious.
- God wants to communicate that glory to his people: let it be seen, enjoyed, shown.
- He wants us to join him in that purpose.
- That applies absolutely to everything we do.
- We do this in humble dependence on his grace and power, which come through Jesus Christ in the service of others.
- That will make God look great.
When you have developed a general mission statement based on those purposes of God, then you can make some short-term mission statements, for example, in a year: you are going to write a book, you are going to change jobs, you are going to get married, or whatever; a short-term goal that gives that mission statement some specifics depending on the season of your life.
Originally posted on . Translated by Team Coalition.