“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”—Luke 4:18-19
At our annual Daughters of the King retreat, the leader, Martie McMane, asked us to form a “mission statement.” In her book, LIVING GRACE, Spiritual Growth in the Everyday World, she says, “Having a mission statement, a core purpose, or a life purpose allows you not to get stuck at a crossroad or not to try to go in competing directions at once.” She quotes Fredrick Buechner who wrote, “The kind of work that God usually calls you to is the kind of work a) that you need most to do and b) that the world most needs to have done.” Martie said that when we discover our Holy Spirit gifts and connect them to something God needs to have done in the world, it isn’t hard work. Doing the work to which God calls us gives us energy and joy. Finding your gifts and connecting them to what Jesus wants you to do takes time and discernment.
Jesus’ mission statement is quoted above. Years ago, while reading the Bible, these words jumped off the page and grabbed me. I realized that this was my mission, too. As apprentices of Jesus, this most likely applies to all of us, but within our mission—our purpose in life, there are different calls and ministries. Sometime later than the mission statement, I was given my, “how to.” A scripture passage, about Lazarus being raised from the dead, zinged me. “The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with bandages, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Untie him, and let him go free.’”—John 11:44 (NAB). Other translations say, “Unbind him, and let him go.” I heard, “Unbind them and set them free.” Somehow my pleasure and God’s pleasure were wrapped up for me in this verse.
I have spent many years following this directive in many different venues. What God gave me was mostly a ministry of listening and of praying. I started listening to people’s stories and helped them link theirs to God’s story. It was just something I did, and it took a while to realize that this was a call from God. I listened within a music ministry. I listened in Cursillo—later as a certified spiritual director— then in prison ministry and so on. I listen during meetings and I pray. I have been involved with inner healing prayer for over 40 years and God has done, and continues to do, amazing things. I have done speaking, teaching and writing—all very interesting to me as I never intended to do these. My latest “pleasure” is a Facebook ministry, but I don’t have room to explain—all of this is to “unbind them and set them free.”
I am grateful that Martie presented this question at our retreat because it gave me time to think about my mission statement. Is it still the same? Yes. Has it changed? How I live it out – somewhat. What is your mission statement? For what purpose did God create you? What is your deep gladness? How does God want you to live that out in the world? Where do you feel God’s pleasure? What has your name on it? Answering this will take time, prayer and discernment.
I like this quote by Yogi Berra: “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” It is humorous, but we don’t want to take just any fork in the road but the path for which God has created us. It will give us both joy.