“Alice came to a fork in the road. ‘Which road do I take?’ she asked.
‘Where do you want to go?’ responded the Cheshire Cat.
‘I don’t know,’ Alice answered.
‘Then,’ said the Cat, ‘It doesn’t matter.'”
—Lewis Carroll, Alice In Wonderland
As I discussed yesterday, discovering your personal vision is key to finding your path in life and identifying the mission you have been called to follow. Having a clearly articulated personal vision statement gives you a template of purpose that can be used to initiate, evaluate, and refine all of your activities.
As Douglas Groothuis writes in his book, Truth Decay,
In this toxic cultural environment, the Christian needs to know who they are and who they serve. They should be crystal clear on what they are summoned to know, who they are summoned to be, and what they are summoned to do before the face of God. As postmodernists vainly pose and preen for effect, experience and power, Christians can and must lodge their identities firmly in the transcendent reality of the triune God.
Having established the importance of a personal vision statement, the big question is, how do you develop one?
Keep It Short, Adaptable, and High-Level
There are some basic characteristics of a well-developed statement to keep in mind. Your personal vision statement should be:
- Written down
- No more than a single sentence long
- Easily understood by a twelve-year-old
- Able to be recited by memory
- A unique description of who you are in Christ
- A statement that creates priorities
- A statement that produces a plan of action
Your personal vision statement should also be adaptable. It is not meant to be written once and blasted into stone. While it rarely changes, you should set aside some time on a regular basis to review your personal vision statement, as well as your career, job, and goals. Make adjustments as necessary. You’ll grow, and your vision statement will, too. It will hopefully develop more clearly as you learn more about God and yourself.
Your vision is the center of the target, a guiding image of what God has created and called you to be. It is a reason for your existence, guiding you in the decisions you make and the directions you take.
Your personal vision, however, will not include the distinctive ways you intend to accomplish your purpose. Many people write an additional personal mission statement and additional goals to help them focus on achieving their vision. These are typically much more robust than a simple personal vision statement.
When writing your personal vision statement, remember that God made and redeemed you for service in the here and now. Proverbs 16:3 says, “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” Who you are in Christ and your unique design are clues to what God wants you to do. Frederick Buechner famously wrote,
The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.
Here is an example of my own personal vision statement:
God has called me to be a teacher and a coach to help others more successfully run the race of life (Heb. 12:1-3).
In nearly every one of my various jobs, I’ve had the opportunity to use my gifts and passion to be a coach and encourager of others. I was created, designed, and destined to fill this particular vocational calling based on my God-given gifts and talents and the opportunities presented to me by God’s providence. What’s interesting is that though my jobs have changed, my vision has not.
Writing a personal vision statement requires a great deal of thought about one’s purpose and abilities. The following resources may help in this endeavor:
- How to Write your Personal Vision Plan
- Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life (Chapter 40—Living with Purpose). This chapter discusses how to create a life-purpose statement.
- Stephen Covey, First Things First (Chapter 5 and Appendix A)
- John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life (first three chapters). Piper recounts his journey to find “a single passion to live by.”
- Keith Ferrazzi, Never Eat Alone (Chapter 3—What’s Your Mission?)
- Matt Perman, What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done (Chapter 11—What’s Your Mission? How Not to Waste Your Life)
At the end of the day, discovering your personal vision or “calling” will help you live in light of God’s kingdom purposes:
- Live holistic lives. Theologian Louis Berkhof wrote, “…If all those who are now citizens of the Kingdom would actually obey its laws in every domain of life, the world would be so different that it would hardly be recognized.”
- Live with a kingdom focus. Jesus tells us to “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness” (Matt. 6:33).
- Live lives that are transformational. As Christians who are to be salt and light, we have the ability to influence and transform the world around us (Matt. 5:13-16).
- Live in a uniquely Christian manner. We must live lives worthy of our calling (Eph. 4:1-16).
- Live with an eye to the common good. We are most blessed when we are a blessing to others (Jer. 29:7).
May God bless and guide you, whether you’re revisiting an old vision statement or writing one for the first time. I’d love to hear from you about whether this information was helpful and what you believe your vision statement is.
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Eph. 2:10).
Editor’s note: Go deeper to discover your calling in Understanding God’s Calling, an in-depth course designed for high school students but suitable for adults!
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