bits from bob....

A Good Use of Life

by Bob Young
[permission is given to reprint with credit noted]

Over the past two decades, I have written several life mission statements, attempting to focus my life and to clarify and describe what God is calling me to do. There are similarities in the mission statements but there are also differences which reflect the continuing development of God's plan and work in my life.

About a year ago, I changed my focus with regard to my work in the kingdom, moving from full-time local church ministry to a broader role in helping meet kingdom challenges and needs in various places. As a result, it is time to write another mission statement. During the past year, I have been impressed with how great are the needs and challenges in the church around the world. Further, those needs are constantly changing. During the past year, my attempts to listen to and hear God--to analyze what he is doing, how he is working in my life, what he wants to do, and how he wants to work in my life--have yielded fresh answers. Ultimately, the question raised by a personal mission statement is much like the title of this article: What is a good use of my life? Some might suggest that this question not demanding enough, preferring to ask: What is the best use of my life? While I too desire to seek the "best" (Phil. 1:11), on many days I find that I can settle simply for using my life well to the glory of God.

Several factors have influenced my understanding of my personal mission as my thoughts about my role as God's person have changed and become more focused over the past year.

  • The needs of the local church are rapidly changing. Ministry today is different than ministry just a few years ago.
  • The changing shape of ministry is due to significant, rapid changes in our culture and society, for example, in the way people communicate, connect, and construct realities and relationships.
  • The needs of churches on the mission field are also changing rapidly.
  • I have been able to minister in more locations. As a result, I have seen more needs and analyzed diverse situations. Changes in direction and emphasis have come as a result of God revealing more opportunities and challenges.

  • These factors have helped me develop a renewed vision of God's plan for the world. I believe God wants us to understand our mission through a vision of who he is, what the world is like, and who we are. This calls for extraordinary vision. Others have had this kind of vision before us. They did not see the world as others saw it. They saw the world and its potential through different eyes. They saw things that were not and asked "why not?" We live in a world that has been influenced and shaped by people with extraordinary vision. They also had the courage to stand up and do something. The presence of such a vision in our own lives is a reflection of who we are; it speaks to our character.

    Thus I am reflecting again on my life mission statement, seeking direction. Most mission statements are incomplete because they focus on a limited number of future possibilities or on specific actions or fields of work. The basic questions in a mission statement are simple: What is God's vision of the world and how will my presence leave behind a world more closely aligned with God's vision? What is a good use of my life, taking God's purpose, plan and vision for the world into account?

    I share my answers hoping that my thoughts and mental wrestling may be helpful to others, but aware also that writing is one way I think through, analyze, and organize my own thoughts.

  • First, and of primary importance, God wants me to become like him, to become a servant to others, living sacrificially, giving myself for others. I see this truth clearly as I think about Jesus washing feet, about Jesus coming in human form as a servant, about the totally upside-down nature of the kingdom, about his totally-opposite way of seeing life, unpretentious, sacrificial, loving. This is not the way we contemporary Christians generally think about our roles--this is not consistent with normal human visionary style. It is not the way we imagine it, it was not the way the disciples imagined it. But it is God's way. Become as a little child; put others first, do what God wants, follow him. So Paul could write, "Follow my example as I imitate and follow Christ" (I Cor. 11:1).
  • Second, God wants me to bring to him glory and honor and praise in my life. My life is not my own, and is not to be devoted to my own selfish ends. God has a plan for my life and to find his plan and his niche is the "one thing" of my life. Finding that place will enable me to bring him the most glory and honor.
  • Growing out of and expanding these two concepts....

  • God wants me to be an example for others as I follow Christ, exemplifying the spiritual life, demonstrating Christian attitudes. This service and example is a part of how God's Holy Spirit draws others to follow Christ.
  • God wants me to be a motivator for and teacher of meaningful spiritual life for others, saving the lost and equipping the saved. The first of these involves evangelism and missional outreach. The second involves missional inreach-teaching and training, educating and mentoring God's people. God has called me to help educate his people in biblical understandings and principles.
  • God wants me to help the U.S. church develop an inclusive, international vision, seeing the world with its possibilities, challenges, and needs in new and fresh ways.
  • Out of the strength of the marriage God has provided Jan and me, he has given us a mission to strengthen families, especially the families of church leaders.
  • God wants me to advance kingdom things by preparing others for works of service. This suggests activities and teaching to strengthen churches and individual Christians in doing the work of God.
  • God wants me to help equip leaders in the church--this is the point of convergence of my training, experience, and formal education. This conclusion points toward leadership development, motivating leaders, equipping, training, encouraging, and providing leadership resources. This includes a focus on educating future leaders in the churches, and that God wants me to focus many of these leadership development efforts in Latin America.

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    Last updated November 2, 2011