“Marry Your Mission” – A Breakdown

As pastors and organizational leaders, one of your greatest responsibilities is to keep your church or organization moving in the right direction. Much has been written about the importance of things like mission, vision, values, strategies, and goals. Clarity around these topics is crucial to help leaders lead well. And the importance one places on each of these can make the difference in accomplishing your mission or not.

Pastor and author Andy Stanley often says something to the effect of “Marry your Mission. Date your model. Fall in love with your vision. Stay mildly infatuated with your approach.” Such wise words! To help us gain clarity, let’s break this down and look at each phrase.

Marry Your Mission
A marriage is a life-long commitment to an individual. It involves a vow before God and a public declaration of love and devotion. You stay true to it. You remain faithful. You fight for it through think and thin.

The same is true with the mission of an organization. Your mission is what God has called your organization to do. Yet many churches experience what’s called “Mission Drift”. This is the tendency, say authors Peter Greer and Chris Horst, for faith-based organizations drift from their founding mission. It’s when a church to gets so caught up in doing ministry that they lose sight of why their doing ministry. They drift from their mission. It happens nearly inevitably unless great care is taken to stay on course.

Retired pastor and author Bob Merritt used to always tell his staff, “If you focus in ministry, you’ll lose sight of mission. But if you focus on mission, you’ll always have ministry.”

Date Your Model
A model is not just an attractive person who displays clothes in a way that entices people to buy. A model can also be simply defined a system or procedure as an example to follow. It’s the specific way in which you carry out a particular task.

You don’t marry your model. You date your model. This means you like your model. It’s working for you for the time being. But you’re not fully committed to it. If another more effective model comes along, you’re free to change models and try out the new one. The old model may get its feelings hurt, but you never married it. You only dated.

Fall In Love With Your Vision
Vision is what drives an organization. It’s the divinely given, motivating sense of purpose that compels you to action. It inspires. It persuades. It fascinates the mind and captures the heart. It’s the fire under your feel that keeps you going. Stanley encourages leaders to fall in love with the vision. The vision is beautiful. It’s compelling. It’s good to fall in love with.

Stay Mildly Infatuated With Your Approach
If you’re in an airplane and are coming in for a landing, you probably hope the pilot focuses on the approach. If the approach isn’t dead on, the pilot will probably do a fly around and try again. The approach is really important.

But the aviation industry is unlike most organizations because most of the time an approach can change. An approach is the angle in which you face a challenge. When one approach isn’t working any more, it’s perfectly acceptable to try a different one. Experiment with a new method. Approach it from a different angle. Consider doing it another way. Remember, – techniques, systems and processes can all change to help meet organizational goals and accomplish the overall mission.