I recently came across a helpful article by Rick Warren on defining your life’s mission.
Warren, obviously, is most well-known for his book The Purpose Driven Life. Now, I would want to say that we should be promise-driven people rather than purpose-driven. (The promise is the gospel of Christ’s death and resurrection for us. God acts on our behalf. Therefore we can work.)
I doubt Warren would disagree with that. I see it as very important for understanding the role of a mission statement correctly. In sum, a mission statement is not the ultimate motivating purpose in our life. God’s work on our behalf in Christ is. Our purpose — and motivation for it — flows from that.
Now, within this context, I think that personal mission statements are useful and important. They help guide your direction in life so that you are not aimless, but rather focused on what is most important for you to be doing.
In this regard, I’ve found that Warren’s article provides very helpful insight into creating an effective mission statement. He points out that there are really five questions to address:
- What will be the center of my life?
- What will be the character of my life?
- What will be the contribution of my life?
- What will be the communication of my life?
- What will be the community of my life?
What is so unique and helpful about this is that we often think of a mission statement simply in terms of what we should do — the ultimate, overriding aim that we are to achieve in our life.
But Warren points out that our mission involves more than just what we are to accomplish. It involves what we say through our lives — the overriding message we communicate in all we do — and, further, our mission should not be conceived apart from a context of relationships with others.
His thoughts on the center of your life echo what Covey has to say about that in The Seven Habits. Covey speaks of the problems that come from being possession-centered, or career-centered, or self-centered, or person-centered, and advocates being principle-centered. I think that the true and ultimate expression of that is to be God-centered, and Warren hits that well here also.
Anyway, enough commentary. Read the whole thing.