Motivate and Inspire (reflections on writing a personal mission statement)

220px-Leonid_Pasternak_001Several weeks ago, I asked one of my Bible study groups to consider writing down a personal mission statement. Jesus had a mission statement – it’s found in the Book of Isaiah and it goes like this:

The Sovereign Lord has filled me with his Spirit. He has chosen me and sent me to bring good news to the poor, to heal the broken-hearted, to announce release to captives and freedom to those in prison. He has sent me to proclaim that the time has come when the Lord will save his people and defeat their enemies. He has sent me to comfort all who mourn, to give to those who mourn in Zion joy and gladness instead of grief, a song of praise instead of sorrow. They will be like trees that the Lord himself has planted. They will all do what is right, and God will be praised for what he has done.” (Isaiah 61:1-3 GNB)

When I sat down that week to write my own mission statement, a phrase popped into my head… I remembered preparing my very first, post-college resume – and at the time, a resume was supposed to begin with a one sentence objective – basically, a statement that summed up your goal in life.

A big assignment! I didn’t really have to wrestle with it back then, though, and I still remember the exact words that came to me as I typed my objective (on my typewriter, by the way): To motivate & inspire…

I realized last week, as I worked to sum up my life’s mission for Bible study class, that those same words are still true for me today. My mission statement, then, came out sounding like this:

To motivate, encourage & inspire others to become their God-created, gifted selves, powered by the Word and the very real & present teachings of the Holy Spirit; to create space for God to move His people into closer communion with Him.

25 years later, I am realizing that it was God Himself who spoke these words into my resume and into my life – that’s why they haven’t gone away. And by faith, I believe that God speaks words of vision and life over each of us that cannot be taken away – not by the tragedies we face, not by the lies told about us, not even by our own failures along the way.

I believe that God’s dream for me is bigger – MUCH BIGGER! – than any idea or goal or objective I can come up with on my own. He has a plan to use the good stuff, the bad stuff, and even the ugly bits of my life in order to grow His kingdom all around me – and He speaks that dream over my life along with words like: Beloved. Daughter. Bride. 

My faith grows every year as I watch God speak His dreams over you – my friends and family, students and teachers. Thank you for giving me another year filled with beautiful glimpses of God-at-work, and for making room in your lives for Him to motivate and inspire YOU!

What I Believe (a PINK Tuesday post)

Jesus

Jesus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I grow older in my faith, I find that there are fewer words to describe who God is – to me – and what He does in my life. I don’t mean that there aren’t words to express the truth about Him, only that I don’t actually need them. Does that make sense?

My experience with God in the past year has shifted from learning about Him and me moving toward Him to something much simpler and much more complex… just BEING together with God.

Where I used to think: what’s the right thing to do in this situation? Now… I just know.

Where I used to have to work and search God’s Word for an answer, somehow those answers come more often TO me – and not always from the pages of scripture! Sometimes God’s answers come from a conversation, or His instructions through an impression or sense of Him speaking to me. His comfort often comes by means of a changing situation, and His direction by simply waiting and watching for HIM to MOVE.

I’ve come to a place in my journey of faith where there seems to be one word that sums up all of my belief and understanding about God – His nature, His character, my relationship with Him, how He feels about me and what He wants to provide… ONE WORD!

PRESENCE.

What I mean by this is that I am never alone.

I don’t have to open a book or close my eyes or make confession or try really hard to clear my head and focus… because God’s presence isn’t dependent upon me at all.

He doesn’t need me to act in a certain way or say specific words or even pray in order to be who He IS – which is HERE! PRESENT.

You may have heard the catch-phrase from M. Night Shyamalan’s film The Sixth Sense – “I see dead people.” It’s as if I have been given spiritual eyes – not for glimpses of the deceased – but for actually seeing the living God all around me, every single day!

I guess “I see Jesus” IS my statement of faith! Because every day, I see Jesus alive. In all of YOU!

And here, inside of me.

Jesus’ disciples once asked Him why He told so many stories… His answer to them is confirmation to me that I am right where I belong on my faith journey today.

“The disciples came up and asked, “Why do you tell stories?” He replied, “You’ve been given insight into God’s kingdom. You know how it works. Not everybody has this gift, this insight; it hasn’t been given to them. Whenever someone has a ready heart for this, the insights and understandings flow freely. But if there is no readiness, any trace of receptivity soon disappears. That’s why I tell stories: to create readiness, to nudge the people toward receptive insight. In their present state they can stare till doomsday and not see it, listen till they’re blue in the face and not get it. I don’t want Isaiah’s forecast repeated all over again: Your ears are open but you don’t hear a thing. Your eyes are awake but you don’t see a thing. The people are blockheads! They stick their fingers in their ears so they won’t have to listen; They screw their eyes shut so they won’t have to look, so they won’t have to deal with me face-to-face and let me heal them. “But you have God-blessed eyes – eyes that see! And God-blessed ears – ears that hear!”     Matthew 13:10-16 (The Message)

May God bless your eyes and ears on this PINK Tuesday!

What’s YOUR Story? (a PINK Tuesday post)

In my world, this is Faith Statement season.

This means that, tomorrow evening, about 30 of us will gather to share with one another what we believe about God – and how that translates into real life, day in and day out.

Believers of all ages do this every year in my faith family, in conjunction with Confirmation Sunday. Before we expect our young students to share their statements of faith in front of 200+ church members, we get together and CELEBRATE the faith we ALL have! No matter how far along we are on this journey with Christ, we ALL have a story to tell!

The most beautiful part of this annual ‘event’ for me is the realization that we have more in common with one another than we could have known! After all, unless we take purposeful time to pen our thoughts and speak them aloud in the company of faith family, how would we know what God has done and is doing among us?!

I’m still working on my statement of faith for tomorrow night’s sharing, so today I’ll not waste your time with my words…

Instead, I challenge YOU to take time today to find words to express where you are in relationship to who God is! Here are the prompts that we use every year in this process:

  • Explain what you believe to be true about God – His nature and character.
  • Share what you believe YOUR RELATIONSHIP to/with God is (what you believe He thinks about you, has given you, wants to provide for you).
  • Give a personal reason or two (short story, life experience) for why you believe as you do.
  • Share a scripture verse or passage that you believe God is using in YOUR LIFE.

Go ahead – put it on paper! But don’t stop there – to do so would be missing half of the point. Share it with someone – or better yet, a few close friends or family members. Let God use this experience to illuminate connections and increase understanding in and among His people!

And if you need a friend to share with, well… there are LOTS of US here! Use the reply space below! Tell us YOUR story!