Being Guided by a Mission

Recently I taught a class on strategic planning for youth ministry programs. We began by talking about mission. What is mission? The word mission comes from the same Latin root word as the word Mass, missa, which means to be sent. It’s what sends you out; what drives you, the purpose for existing. This can be translated to both people and organizations.

I had all of the youth ministers in class take part in an activity: writing a personal mission statement. It takes 5 easy steps:

  1. Identify past successes, either personal or professional
  2. Identify core values, a list of attributes you posses
  3. Identify contributions, how you can contribute in different areas
  4. Identify goals, a list of personal goals
  5. Write a mission statement based on the above steps

(Source: quintcareers.com)

The purpose of this exercise was twofold: 1) for everyone to get a clear sense of personal mission and 2) to show how easy it is to develop an organizational mission statement. You see organizational theory tells us that all healthy organizations have a sense of mission and all employees should know the mission and understand how their job contributes to it.

For example, Facebook’s mission statement is “to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.” I know this statement has been true in my life because ever since Facebook became popular around the time of my freshman year in college (2005), I have been able to share and be more connected with my friends and family from all over the country and the world.

The same is true for sports teams. The team’s mission should always be to win. Unfortunately, in a lot of sports individuals lose this sense of mission and seek personal statistics or accomplishments. A teammate with a true sense of mission would do whatever is best for the team, even if this means sacrificing his own personal accomplishments. (This is why it’s called a sacrifice bunt or a sacrifice fly in baseball)

When I teach the Youth Ministry training class on Evangelization I also begin by talking about mission. What is the Catholic Church’s mission statement? Many of the responses are usually very good, however, most of the time the answers fall short. The Catholic Church has a simple mission statement given to us by our founder Jesus Christ, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit (Matthew 28:20).”

Pope Paul VI in his 1975 encyclical Evangelii Nutiandi says the following, “Evangelizing is in fact the grace and vocation proper to the Church, her deepest identity. She exists in order to evangelize…(14).” You see in my opinion one big issue facing people today is an identity crisis. One in three people raised in the Catholic Church has walked away from it, making “former Catholic” the 3rd largest denomination in the country.  As Catholics, our purpose for existing, what drives everything we do is to spread the faith and making disciples of all people and all nations. It is to recognize that it is part of our identity and our vocation.  Unfortunately, many Catholics are unaware of this or even know where to begin if they have not been evangelized themselves.

Whether you are a Catholic or not, I challenge you to take a few minutes and develop a personal mission statement. If you work for an organization that doesn’t have a mission statement or has one that needs to be redeveloped I challenge you to do the same. If we don’t know why we are here or what we are trying to accomplish how will we ever have meaning or success in our own lives and in our organizations.

CONNected Catholics Mission Statement:

To accompany young adults in the Diocese of Bridgeport

My Personal Mission Statement:

To serve the Catholic Church and others by being caring, forgiving and trustworthy and living everyday in the peace and joy of Jesus Christ