Do you believe vision and mission are biblical?
This question is real and needs to be addressed.
Many people will hear the idea of a church or a person having a mission statement and consider the idea to be unbiblical. The reasons may be many, but two reasons seem prominent.
First, many people believe that mission statements are the invention of corporations. I will agree that the idea of missional statements made a comeback late in the 20th Century. Of course, slogans have been a part of branding for years (e.g. Nike’s Just Do It, etc.), but all organizations have some sort of guiding principles – even if it is unstated. And, if we look closely at the Bible, we will see that individuals had mission statements as well.
For instance, think for a moment what the mission of Jesus was. Multiple ideas could be given here, but at a minimum, we might consider “to seek and save the lost” (Luke 19.10) or “to serve and not be served and to give His life for the ransom of many” (Mark 10.45). You could come up with a list of others pretty easily. And what about Jesus’ vision? I think one overriding idea would be the Church. It was Jesus who said, “I will build my church” (Matthew 16.18), which is a mission (or maybe a vision) of what He wanted to do. So, in response to the first argument against a vision or mission being unbiblical, I would say that a closer examination of the Bible will show that these ideas are explicitly shared within Scripture. (Again, you and I might disagree on the specific mission and verses, but we easily find examples of Paul (e.g. Colossians 1.28-29) and others throughout the Bible.
The second reason some individuals will balk at a vision or mission statement is that the purpose of the Christian is to simply live a life pleasing to the Lord. I absolutely agree. But what does that mean? What is your purpose? What is mine? Mine is to teach people and to help people live their lives here on earth – essentially a part of discipleship (and a primary purpose of this blog). The gifts God has given me and the skills He has helped me develop serve one purpose in God’s Kingdom. The gifts and skills you have may fulfill a different purpose. Ultimately, we may both have the same ultimate objective, but have individual purposes towards the fulfillment of that objective.
Proverbs 16.9 says, “Man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.”
If I am planning my way, what are those plans designed to do? Where are they designed to take me? The answer to that question, in the short run, and in the long run, can be considered my purpose or my vision.
Having considered a couple of objections, let’s expand our thinking.
As I have shared elsewhere, I believe a vision is the result of fulfilling one’s mission. That is, the vision is the end goal. Now, it is possible to have one vision and achieve it and then develop a second vision. But personally, I believe a vision should be large enough to encompass one’s life in general. And then, the individual components of fulfilling that vision make up the components of the mission.
In a paragraph above, I mentioned Jesus’ statement of building His Church. I said the statement might be His MISSION* or a VISION*. Why? Well, I think it could be His VISION because it was something not yet realized (actually it was in its infancy at best). And I do see VISION as an aspiration, thus the Church was, in some sense, an aspiration.
*When the words our capitalized, I am using them as part of a personal understanding (or within the System), not in the general sense of the word(s).
However, I also think that a mission must have action verbs. And Jesus said He intended to “build” which is definitely a word of action. Thus, I see Jesus’ statement as more of a MISSION. If that is true, then what was His VISION?
Well, let’s back up further? In fact, let’s go back to before the beginning. What was God’s purpose in making mankind? What was God’s purpose in making the heavens and earth? And what was His end goal in doing so?
Well, I am not the one to answer those questions specifically. We can deduce some truth about each of those questions, but the truth is that only God truly knows. But one thing is certain: God did not need us. He did not need Creation. God was complete before Creation. But He chose us. He purposed to do so. (The Bible uses the idea of God having purposed certain events – see especially Isaiah and Zechariah for this terminology.)
The truth is that God has a purpose. He is fulfilling His MISSION in order to achieve His VISION (I don’t like the word “achieve” in reference to God, but for consistency purposes in the overall scheme of how I use the word, I have used it here).
God’s purpose included creating man, calling Abraham, choosing Jacob, freeing the Israelites, granting a land of promise, punishing His people for their sins, sending Jesus, saving those who believe, and preparing a place for those who chose Him. The Bible is clear on each of those ideas and so many more.
So, if God has a VISION and a MISSION, we can too. We should too. After all, we are made in His image. If we claim to know God, and desire to please God, then our VISION and MISSION should be in alignment with what God wants for our lives. Therefore, as I have shared before, my VISION is:
To be the man God has called me to be. (Ephesians 4.1; 5.1).
I know that is broad, but it is true. I know I cannot achieve that goal in this lifetime, but I can strive towards that end. I also know that if I keep that idea before me, then I will fully realize it on the other side of eternity.
Again, my VISION is broad, but my MISSION is not. That is intentional. In the coming weeks, I will begin to discuss my MISSION so you can see how it not only fits what God have us do, but specifically what He would have me do.
So, once more I leave you with the questions I have shared the last couple of weeks. Perhaps you did not take time to answer them because you had a concern similar to what I shared at the beginning of this post. If that is true, I hope I have provided some clarity on why I believe a VISION, and especially a MISSION statement is biblical. Regardless, I hope you will now take time to consider (or re-consider) the following questions. By having these ideas in mind, you will then be ready to develop a mission statement, and then you can begin to make sure the two statements relate well with one another. We will turn toward the development of the MISSION statement next week.
- What is important in your life?
- What do you want to accomplish with your life?
- What resources do you have, or will you need, to accomplish your goal(s)?