What business are you in? What are you trying to accomplish? What is your mission statement? Jesus was clear about what business He and His disciples were in. He called His disciples, not just to become fishermen, but to a greater purpose—to become “fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19).
An effective mission statement should express a higher purpose for the greatest good that gives meaning to the efforts of each individual involved in your organization.
When Walt Disney started his theme parks, he knew how to excite people. He said, “We are in the happiness business—we make magic!” Wouldn’t you rather be in the happiness business than the theme park business? Being in the happiness business drives everything Disney’s cast members (employees) do with their guests (customers).
Even if an organization states its mission, if that statement does not support a higher purpose, it will not motivate people. For instance, one congregation said they wanted to be a twenty-four-hour-a-day church. They had a nice facility, and they wanted to keep the rooms busy. But attendance went down because the mission wasn’t something the people got excited about. Your purpose needs to inspire people.
At another church, the purpose is more inspiring to the congregation. At the beginning of every service, the minister says, “We believe that a close encounter with Jesus of Nazareth can transform lives. Our mission is to make Jesus smile.” Backing up that statement are clear operating and theological values. Attendance has gone up. It’s a place where a community comes together with the main purpose of making Jesus smile.
A clear purpose sets the direction for where you are going. At the Lead Like Jesus ministry, our purpose is “to inspire and equip people to Lead Like Jesus to restore joy to work and family.” As we have continually emphasized, without clear direction, leadership doesn’t matter.
In Alice in Wonderland, Alice learned this lesson when she came to a fork in the road. She asked the Cheshire cat which way she should go. When he asked where she was going, Alice replied that she didn’t know. The cat concluded matter-of-factly, “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”
Ken’s father retired early as a captain in the U.S. Navy. When Ken asked why he left the service early, his dad replied, “I hate to admit it, but I liked the wartime navy a lot better than the peacetime one. Not that I like to fight, but in wartime we knew why we were there and what our purpose was. We knew what we were trying to accomplish. The problem with the peacetime navy is that since nobody knows what we are supposed to be doing, too many leaders think their fulltime job is making other people feel unimportant.”
When you run an organization without a clear purpose, leadership becomes self-focused.
If your organization does not have a mission statement, if your mission statement is not stated so that everyone understands it, or if people are not excited about your mission statement, your organization or family will begin to lose its way. As the Bible says, “Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint” (Proverbs 29:18). In other words, without guidance from God, law and order disappear. Without vision, the people perish.
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Join the Conversation
How has your mission statement influenced the way people work with you? What would happen if you let Jesus direct your mission statement for your business, or even your family life? Leave your comments below. We’d love to hear what you think.