One of the things that makes the United States Army such a formidable foe on the battlefield is the power of the Mission Statement. The Mission Statement is part of the 5 paragraph Operation Order every soldier receives prior to the start of a combat operation. It is defined as “a clear, concise statement of the unit’s task(s) to be accomplished, and the purpose for doing it.” Every soldier is held accountable to know, word for word, what the mission statement is for that particular mission.
As a Sergeant in the U.S. Infantry, one of my pre-combat tasks was to go around and quiz soldiers to see if they could recite the mission statement. If not, it reflected poorly on that soldier, and identified them as one who would need remedial training.
But why? Why does the Army place such an importance on each soldier knowing what the mission is? The answer to that is simple. Things get Crazy, (with a capital “C”!) in combat. The moment fire begins to be exchanged, plans go out the window and a certain chaos ensues. It’s at this moment that two things kick in. First, your training kicks in. Your performance on the battlefield is directly traceable to how serious you took training. As a new Infantry recruit at Ft. Benning, I remember very clearly the sign that greeted us as we made our way into the training area. It read “The more you sweat in training, the less you’ll bleed in battle.” Training is a very serious thing, because when the stress of battle hits, you go on a kind of mental autopilot, and begin executing your tasks in the same manner, and with the same level of proficiency you performed them during training. Take training seriously and it could save your life. Slack off during training time and it will cost you. Bottom line – One who disregard’s training does so at their own peril.
So training is the first thing, but the 2nd thing that kicks in is equally as important. That 2nd thing that happens is, as your training kicks in, you instinctively begin to execute the mission….that is, if you know what the mission is! Hence, the power of memorizing the mission statement.
Now, can you visualize this? Because every single soldier, down to the lowest ranking private knows the mission statement inside and out, when all heck begins to break loose, the unit as a whole continues to work in unity together towards the accomplishment of their assigned task. This unity of purpose among total chaos makes any fighting force extremely effective. And this unity continues throughout the entire battle. As a matter of fact, there is a philosophy in the army, that even if your entire unit (Squad, Platoon, Company, etc…) gets wiped out, as long as there is one person who knows the mission, victory is still achievable.
“Interesting,” you might say “but what does this have to do with the book of Romans?”
I bring this up because I think it illustrates the point that just as the Army needs a mission statement to be successful in war, we need a mission statement to be successful in our own personal life. We need a statement that can clearly, and concisely give focus as to who we are, and what we are to do, and if I may be so bold, I believe Paul did too. You see, if we are paying attention here, we can see that Romans 1:1 is just that.
Roman’s 1:1 is Paul’s personal mission statement!
First it states who he is – Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus. Next, it lays out what he does – Called to be an Apostle. Finally, it brings who he is and what he does together into his purpose for living – Set apart for the gospel of God. Paul will serve Jesus Christ by doing the work of an Apostle, for the purpose of furthering Christ’s Kingdom, which is advanced by the proclamation of the gospel.
Paul could tell you very clearly what his mission was. And when things got hairy – when people were stoning him and leaving him for dead. When he was getting flogged, imprisoned, slandered, starved, or shipwrecked, his mission statement kicked in. Not only was he able to endure it, but it also allowed him to continue to do the tasks God had called him to. Just like a modern-day soldier, when things hit the fan, Paul kept his focus, and was able to successfully execute his mission.
So what about you? What about me? Do we have our very own personal mission statement? If we’re a Christian, then Paul has already given us a template. We just need to seek God on how to fill it in.
Here are a couple of basic examples:
“Joan, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to raise my children, set apart for the gospel of God.”
“Steve, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to teach the Bible, set apart for the gospel of God.”
Notice how we are all called to be servants, and all set apart for the gospel. Discovering your One Big Thing – the main thing you were born to do, will help you fill in the middle. it can be simple – just a few words. Or it can be more complex. Whatever works for you.
Let me end this installment with a challenge. Let me challenge you to seek God for your own personal mission statement, and then meditate on all three aspects of it, so you have a firm grasp on how it applies to you. If you have never done such an exercise, I guarantee it will bring clarity and focus into everything you do…and even help you let go of things that aren’t part of your mission as well!
That’s it for now. Until next time, praying God’s richest blessings over you and yours 🙂