This article is adapted Jeff Iorg's book, The Character of Leadership: Nine Qualities That Define Great Leaders, from B&H Publishing Group.
A personal mission statement is a one-sentence statement of God’s unique assignment for you. Jesus’ personal mission was “to seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10). Paul summarized his mission by claiming “I have become its [the church’s] minister ... so that we may present everyone mature in Christ” (Col. 1:25, 28). My personal mission statement is “God has called and equipped me to provide visionary leadership and train others to be effective leaders.”
What are the benefits of a personal mission statement?
- Your personal mission puts limits on your ministry.
- When you lead within the limits of your personal mission, your motives and attitude will usually be good. You will serve more easily and effectively.
- Your personal mission also gives you a sense of security.
- You know you are pleasing God so you can relax. You are not trying to please people and are not stressed by demands you cannot meet. You have a sense of purpose and intentionality. You know you are working from your strengths.
- Focusing on your personal mission helps alleviate jealousy and competition in ministry.
- You know your mission and by implication know others have different missions. You are not competing with anyone. Your only competition is with your own God-produced personal standards, expectations, and potentialities.
A spiritual process for writing your personal mission statement
Writing a personal mission statement is more than an exercise in personalized corporate planning. It must be a spiritual process.
1. Study the Bible
- Discover the missions of biblical characters.
- Study the theology of the Kingdom.
- Understand God’s mission in the world.
- Allow God to steep these insights into your mind before you write your statement.
- Remember, as a Christian leader, your mission is a reflection and extension of God’s mission in the world.
2. Ask friends and family members for their evaluation and insight.
- Ask others to appraise your strengths, weaknesses, liabilities, gifts, and talents.
- Listen also to casual comments, even from your critics. Sometimes a critic may say the right thing in the wrong way but the core insight within the criticism is helpful.
- Also, be careful not to ignore your promoters, allowing false humility to keep you from owning your strengths. Friends who know you well can help you discern and celebrate how God plans to use you.
- Part of learning from others might also be using formal testing to discover your spiritual gifts, leadership style, relational style, or learning abilities.
3. Reflect on your life and ministry experiences
Ask yourself questions such as
- What do I really enjoy?
- What am I really good at?
- What does God bless when I do it?
- What is really special or unique about me?
- What am I doing that is not very productive?
4. Record what you find
As you study the Bible, talk with others, and reflect on your experience through meditative prayer, some ideas will emerge. Write them down! Writing has a remarkable way of crystallizing our thoughts. Write your ideas, share them with a few key people, ask for reflection, and continue to sharpen and polish. Try to keep it to one short sentence. Resist the temptation to make it a flowery thesis rather than a laser sharp, precise statement.
Remember, there is no good writing - only good rewriting.
Writing your personal mission statement will be a liberating experience. Keep your statement flexible and adjust it over time. Do not worry about getting it exactly right by some artificial standard. Develop a working draft and use it for awhile. Adjust it as needed. Do not worry if others do not fully understand its meaning. Just be sure you do, and let it guide you toward greater effectiveness.