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This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it. For then you will make your way prosperous and then you will have good success. Joshua 1:8

In this text Joshua impresses me with his sense of direction. God has provided Joshua with a mission and now tells Joshua exactly what is required of him if he is to find “good success” in this mission. It is critical not only to have a sense of mission and purpose, but to know how to achieve it. How to accomplish the goal is equally critical. The text suggests first, that to fulfill his mission, he must keep the goal before him, bear it in mind, every day—“day and night.” The mission must be ever present—as consuming priority. A preacher once said that the “main thing is to be sure the main thing stays the main thing.” Don’t love the vision of the goal.

Second, he must look for strength in constant meditation on God’s Word and prayer. It is not enough to have a vision at the end of the road, but there must be the daily equipping and energizing—the constant renewal and encouragement that come from God’s Word. It is more than just reading some text, but “meditating” on it—asking God’s Spirit to make the Word come alive in us—teaching, revealing, judging, enabling. Here we have a focus on both ends and means—goals and process. Just as with Joshua, I believe that we all should ask God to give us a clear vision of our place in the world, of the meaning and purpose of our lives.

It is now common to hear about the usefulness of a mission statement. I think that every one of us should ask God for help in writing one down. A clear mission statement, written in accordance to God’s will, can be a very useful device in providing guidance. It is like the old saying, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” A Mission Statement enables us to sort out the direction and focus of our lives as we keep it ever before us.

In my life, this has been of great help. My mission statement is about furthering freedom of religion, freedom of speech, democracy and respect for Human Rights, in my country and in the world, in the name of Jesus Christ, as a Christian contribution and witness to society. This clear goal has helped in several ways. First of all, it provides me a standard I can use when I have to make important decision about my career opportunities. The deciding factor will not be money, prestige, willingness to change, etc., but the extent to which the different options available will help me advance my purpose in life. The call of God will shape my choices.

Secondly, it provides me a strong incentive to make the most of my time, since I know exactly what I have to do and that there is much to be done. This keeps me from distracting myself with all the many time consuming activities that this life has to offer. I can learn to avoid the detours that might keep me from effectiveness. It will ensure that I “redeem the time” that God provides for me.

Thirdly, it helps me transcend my own personal agenda, giving me reasons to look beyond my personal interests, fears, problems and preferences. Psychologists tell us, as does the Bible, that we need something beyond ourselves—bigger than self-interest, greater than momentary passion—and yet our culture seems to suggest to people that fulfillment and success are matters of self-satisfaction, even self-indulgence. This narcissism is ultimately both destructive and unsatisfying. A mission statement shaped by our Lord’s call assures us we are not trapped by our own puniness, but called to something greater.

Finally, since my mission statement grew out of a personal relationship with God, it gives me assurance that, by His grace, He is with me in everything I do to accomplish it. His Spirit and His Word will enable me in a personal way. What a powerful and fulfilling privilege it is to have a purpose in life, shaped by God’s call, and enabled by His Word.

Jonatas Machado
Portugal

– This article comes from AI’s “No Higher Calling,” a devotional for lawyers.

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