Have you ever crafted a mission or purpose statement for an organization? Have you reflected on the purpose of your life and set about to craft a personal mission statement?
I have been keeping a personal goal journal since 1999 (when I was 22), which I call my 'Life Project Book'. I record all my goals in it and track my progress in achieving them. I felt that I had explicitly established a partnership with God at that time whereby I agreed to thoughtfully detail a mission statement that was scripturally based, construct goals following from that statement and then pray over my goals. For his part he would provide guidance, direction, and connection+correction to mold me toward perfection in him for his glory. I know that he is working to do all of these things in me because there are numerous scripture references that state so.
Originally when I began the journal in 1999 I thought that developing my character was the single most important accomplishment I could effect in order to be useful/ready for God when he calls me into service (as I viewed service to God as my ultimate purpose for it's own sake). Over the past 11 years I've come to realize that while service (love your neighbor) is an important directive (second only to loving God) it's actually (along with loving God) a subset of the ultimate purpose: to glorify God.
My revised Statement of Purpose follows:
Our essential purpose as God's holy creation is to glorify him.
1 Pet. 4:11. "That God in all things may be glorified."
1 Cor. 10:31. "Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God."
Prov. 16:4. "The Lord hath made all things for himself:" that is, "for his glory."
“Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.”
Westminster Shorter Catechism
How then do we glorify God?
- God calls us into an intimate and loving relationship with himself (to be begun by confessing our need for salvation and then praying to ask God to abide in us).
John 17:3 "Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent"
Deut.6:5. "Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength."
- God calls us to love our neighbor as ourselves (passionate service/love) and spread the gospel to them (evangelism). This flows out of loving God as he created all of our neighbors and loves them also.
Galatians 5:14. "The entire law is summed up in a single command: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"
Matt 22:39. ... "Love your neighbor as yourself."
1 Corinthians 9:16. "For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel."
- God calls us to be good stewards of what he has entrusted to us (our talents, our relationships, our finances, our time, our bodies as his temple). This flows out of loving and respecting God as he created everything we have.
Matthew 25:15-30. Parable of Talents
Genesis 2:15-20. (Wherein God appoints man steward over creation on earth).
Luke 16. Faithful stewardship.
Romans 12:1. "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship."
1 Tim 6:16. "Command them [the rich] to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share."
1 Tim 6:20. "... guard what has been entrusted to your care. "
Good external reference on stewardship: http://www.middletownbiblechurch.org/spiritua/spirit12.htm
- God calls us to obey his other commandments (which all proceed from loving him, loving our neighbors, and being good stewards) and lays out the qualities of a good disciple (this is spiritual/character development)
John 14:15. "If you love me, obey my commandments."
1 Tim 4:7 "Discipline yourself for the purpose of Godliness"
Colossians 1:10. “Walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work.”
- God calls us to joy and recreation. This proceeds from our recognition that we are created in the image of God and delight in joy and recreation as he does.
Phil 4:8. "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things."
Deut 5:12. "Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the LORD your God has commanded you."
Jeremiah 29:11. "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
Genesis 1:31. "God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. …"
Every goal that is worthwhile falls under the scope of one of these five avenues of glorification.
I track subcategories under each avenue (for example, ‘Stewardship of my Body’ under ‘Stewardship’ . For each subcategory I list an objective (or objectives) which is/are qualifications of what it means to be in compliance with progress in that avenue. Then, following good goal setting principles, I translate the objective(s) into measurable goals. (A common failure in goal setting is to fail to define measurable goals for your objectives, preventing you from being able to rationally/objectively define when you’ve met the objective.) Finally, I create action steps which, as they are completed, will bring me closer to completing the measurable goals. These action steps can usually be conveniently scheduled in outlook with the calendar or task manager.
I want to add a final note to remind blog readers that while this method of qualifying and quantifying the Christian life appeals to me (perhaps I truly was born to be a Methodist who prefer a methodical and systematic approach to theology, which is the denomination I have found myself in these days) it’s not the ‘only’ way to approach life in Christ. In fact I am sure many may find this systematic approach as complicated, overthought, and overwhelming. I once heard a pastor report that his goal list boiled down to ‘find the next wholesome thing that needs doing in your circle of influence and do it’.