Stay. Focused. On. Your. Mission.
I enjoyed a recent newspaper article about a woman running for congress in another part of our country. This woman is running for office after a distinguished military career and so was asked by her interviewer what lessons she had learned in the military that would shape her work if she were to be elected. “Five words,” she said. “Stay focused on your mission.”
She went on to explain, “The military is made up of people from every walk of life and from every possible religious, ethnic, and cultural background. We were different in a thousand different ways, and often times we would disagree vehemently about the best course of action related to some particular challenge. But the one thing that allowed us to work and serve together is that we shared a common mission. And our commander would remind us repeatedly, word by word: “Stay. Focused. On. Your. Mission.” That advice has long shaped my life and always will.
I believe this is good advice for the church these days as well. We are called to join God’s mission in the world and to bear witness to God’s redemptive power as seen in the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ. We are called to become a part of that community of people that believes the power of love is the greatest power in the world. This is our collective mission and I am grateful for the thousands of ways I see that happening in the world these days.
But the ways we do that can and will differ depending on where we serve and what our particular context requires of us. The question that must be asked is this: What would God have us to do in our particular context? What I see too often are churches that try to determine their mission by looking at what other churches are doing. The desire is to be like that big church down the street or like that church that seems to be the new “hot” place to go. Yet to let other congregations determine our mission is to ignore the particular gifts and opportunities that God has given to us in our place. Our job is to determine our calling and to pursue it as passionately and as joyfully as we can.
I understand that this is not always the easiest thing in the world. I can waste an hour as easily as anyone trying to measure my life by someone else’s experience. I admit that I sometimes have been jealous of someone else’s success. But what is becoming increasingly clear is that what really matters is not what someone else is doing but what I am doing. Everyone has a backstory that tells how they got where they are today. We don’t have their story; we have our own story. And just as surely, our congregation or business or family has its own story. The task for each of us is to identify our own story, our particular calling, and to pursue it with all our hearts.
Do you believe you’re doing good work? Are you touching lives with the transforming power of God’s amazing love? Then give thanks to God for that work and do it to the best of your ability. Stay. Focused. On. Your. Mission.
Dan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org