I’m not much of a beach-goer. Could be that allergy to the sun. Or that my body doesn’t adjust to extreme heat (or cold, for that matter, which has made this winter brutal). And yet I do love bobbing in the ocean.
One thing I remember about doing so is how often after spending an hour in the water, jumping waves, laughing with friends, we would walk up on to the beach only to discover we were a quarter mile away from our blanket. How did we get so far away? We didn’t remember moving.
We drifted. It’s easy to do, especially if we’re not paying attention. And I’m not just talking about being in the ocean.
We drift through life sometimes. Some people may not have any mission or purpose statement, and so drifting may not be noticed; they’re not headed anywhere in particular.
But even if you have a clear mission statement, as I do, it’s still so easy to drift. I’m not paying attention. I’m not focused on the goal. I don’t remind myself of the mission regularly. Instead I take on one more (or many more) task or responsibility that someone thinks I should do or that I think looks fun. Oooh, bright shiny object! When I finally look up, I’ve drifted far from my blanket.
That’s why I was eager to read Mission Drift: The Unspoken Crisis Facing Leaders, Charities, and Churches, the new book from Peter Greer and Chris Horst, which they provided for me to read and review. While Greer and Horst, who are leaders at Hope International, focus predominately on how organizations can stay “Mission True,” many of the principles apply to our lives as individuals as well. Here are some of my favorite thoughts:
“Mission True organizations know why they exist and protect their core at all costs. They remain faithful to what they believe God has entrusted them to do.”
“Sometimes we can take for granted the things we most value.”
“Do you know who you are? and Are you protecting your identity?“
“It’s possible to be successful in the things that ultimately don’t matter to your organization’s success.”
“Christian shoddy is still shoddy.”
If you lead a church or organization or business, or if you simply want a life that is lived on purpose, get Mission Drift. Savor it and learn from it. Only diligence keeps us on mission.
Greer and Horst’s book contains stories of organizations that have so departed from their original stated mission that they’ve changed their names to reflect their new identity. They interview leaders of Mission True organizations to plum their wisdom on what keeps their organization on track for the long haul. They share their own stories from Hope International on how tempting the small steps can be that ultimately pull you away from mission. You’ll find key questions you, as a donor, can ask nonprofits to ensure the organization is staying Mission True before (and after) they get your money.
To be Mission True takes vigilance. It’s not always simple. Sometimes it means turning down the easy answer now to enable your future ministry. People may not understand. But Mission Drift—through targeted examples, a smattering of statistics and true wisdom—gives you reason to care and to make the hard choices to stay Mission True.
I will be returning to reading my own mission statement daily so I never forget who I am and what I have been called to do.