Mission Statement Sets a Direction
Sixth in a series: Read the fifth post
A mission statement is the mother’s milk of any endeavor, be that for a business, a church, a nonprofit or other organization. At least, that’s what I heard at several workshops I attended while trying to establish my business.
Yet for the five years I did primarily PR work and freelanced to fill in the gaps, I didn’t have a mission statement. Nor did I have one when I took a part-time job driving a delivery truck to ensure that we had some form of steady income as I transitioned to freelance writing.
I drove that truck for about 18 months. At one point, I grudgingly agreed to fill in for an injured worker on his fulltime route for three months. I wound up being grateful for the steady pay amid a freelance slump that lasted for . . . three months.
Building Up Business
Once the delivery company laid everyone off, I set about trying to build my freelance work beyond the ghostwriting assignments that had launched my new career.
At one point, a friend with his own business and I met for breakfast. When he asked how things were going, I said, “Right now I’m trying to get back up to $1,000 a month.”
For those who can multiply by 12, you can discern our modest circumstances. Had my wife not taken a decent-paying job, we likely would have never pulled out of the tailspin.
Yet, after I made the $1,000 goal, I set out for $2,000. $3,000. $4,000. And beyond. Making each rung took years, with backsliding along the way.
Early in the climb, a few small opportunities arose. One involved writing a story or column each month for a men’s missions magazine.
The nice thing was the unusually quick turnaround on payments. When I sent the magazine an invoice for an assignment, the check would appear in a couple of weeks.
One time, I mentioned that to the editor in a phone chat and he replied, “We don’t pay much, but we pay fast.”
Settling on the Details
While it was certainly nice to have more work on hand, I still struggled with determining the essence of my mission statement.
Then, one day on a family visit to my brother on Long Island, I learned that friend I had breakfast with the year before was in the area on business.
He stopped by to pick me up and show me one of his educational distance-learning installations (Zoom before Zoom existed). The next day, my wife and I spent time with him and his wife.
As we chatted, I mentioned an interesting testimony I had ghostwritten, and a fascinating story I was still writing. While I talked, it was as if a lightbulb went off in my mind.
“You know, Stu,” I told my friend. “I have always heard about the value of having a mission statement and the Lord just showed me mine: I write about what God’s doing.”
As the months passed, I saw the value of having a clear mission statement. It helped me take my eyes off people and keep them on God. What was most important was how God had worked in their lives, not their flaws or mistakes.
When on assignments that drew national news media coverage, I would always ask people involved, “What did you see God doing?”
There was never a shortage of responses. Everyone was eager to describe their experiences. That’s because seeing God at work is a story that will never go out of style.