Sunday, October 06, 2019

Mission Statement

I’ve never had much use for mission statements or five-year plans, though they are certainly an ongoing feature of modern business life. And perhaps in a business environment it makes sense to ask, “What is our purpose and how are we going to realize it?” The problem is that it is easy to formulate a lofty catchphrase that is entirely meaningless in the real world, isn’t it?
  • McDonalds’ mission statement is typical of such efforts to distill purpose into a single phrase: “McDonald’s brand mission is to be our customers’ favorite place and way to eat and drink.” Predictably bland and inoffensive.
  • Apple’s mission statement is less of a statement and more of an advert. It starts off: “Apple is committed to bringing the best personal computing experience …” and quickly dribbles off into describing all the different people Apple satisfies with the various indispensable parts of its product line.
  • Possibly the most cloying of all is Starbucks’, notable if only for its spectacular overreach: “Our mission: to inspire and nurture the human spirit — one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.”
No, really. I didn’t make that up. Marketing Department, dial the rhetoric back a notch, please: it’s just COFFEE! I don’t come to you to have my spirit nurtured. I just want an espresso, preferably hot and quick.

But it seems to me that the Christian life doesn’t require a mission statement or a five-year plan so much as it requires a permanent cast of mind.

God isn’t looking for people with good ideas or implementation skills. Even less is he looking for people to convince him how wonderful we are with airy speeches about our self-invented purposes and plans for our lives.

God is looking for men and women who think like he does.


When God walked in the Garden of Eden in the cool of the day, he made a sound. The Hebrew word used suggests that it might have been the sound of wind. But in any case, it was a recognizable sound; a sound that seems to have regularly signaled Adam to come looking for him. One day God came walking and instead of responding, Adam hid himself because of his sin.

So God called out to Adam, “Where are you?” Strikingly, the “you” is singular. Eve may have sinned first, but it is Adam that God calls to account. It is not just that a command had been broken; it is that the relationship between God and man had been disrupted.

This is not simply a technical violation of what seems an arbitrary rule. For God, this was very, very personal. Adam had gone into business for himself. He no longer had God’s purposes in view.


Enoch, on the other hand, “walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.” The Septuagint, which the gospel writers have the Lord often quoting, says, “Enoch pleased God, and he was not found.” But God knew where he was, because he’d taken him home.

He’d found a man who thought like he does. At least a little bit.


We read of Abraham and his children that they lived in tents to the third generation. Why would they do that? Abraham was one of the richest men of his day. But he was “looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.” He deliberately chose to live as an alien and a stranger to this world in obedience to the calling of God, with no regard for power and position, or for making a name for himself in this world.

God had found another one.


Later, we read that the Lord appeared to King Solomon, the son of David, “a man after [God’s] own heart”; a man who, characteristically, if not perfectly, thought like God. Apparently sometimes David’s son did too: God says to Solomon, “Ask what I shall give you,” and Solomon replies, “Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this, your great people?”

We read that it pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. He’d found yet another man who had God’s own purposes in view.

The Mission

David wrote, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

It occurs to me that if our hearts are already genuinely delighting in the Lord, it’s next to impossible to have a deeply felt desire of the heart that is wrong or inappropriate, or that will displease the Lord in any way.

When we delight in him, material things lose their charm. When we delight in him, fame and success no longer seem goals worth pursuing. When we delight in him, sinful pleasures that might disturb our fellowship with him reveal themselves as the horrors and violations they really are. When we delight in him, security seems a ridiculous concern. Of course he has our back at every turn in the road.

Delight ourselves in the Lord.

There’s all the ‘mission statement’ we’ll ever need.


  1. This rocks, Tom. This life is all about relationship with God, not about techniques or even commands-for-their-own-sake.

    How sad that in some churches a "creed" or "mission statement" has replaced ongoing engagement with the truth of Scripture itself. Out of a noble desire to put some essentials in place, we sometimes lean on a particular "church doctrine," or "statement of faith, " or set of "distinctives".

    But what we really need is the doctrine of the Word, the faith to believe in the good purposes of God, and the distinctive commitment to seek out that real relationship with the Father through the Son.

  2. "God is looking for men and women who think like he does."

    Here is an example of what he is looking for. The type of Muslim who currently is slowly transforming Iran into a Christian country via underground churches and extreme danger to their life. They, this movement is primarily driven by women, are fed up with the sanctioned brutality of Islam. There are an estimated 1 million Christians with an estimated growth rate of 20%/year which should result in 6 million Christians in five years. They are totally committed to Christ and even love Israel because of God and his history there. This documentary was produced under serious personal danger.