At the end of every year, we have an evaluation time as a couple. We look at what we have been doing, how effective it was, what fruit was produced, how fulfilling it has been and on the basis of these questions decide what needs to be changed. A couple of years ago, we were aware that we were being spread too thin and were getting tired. The challenge was that the ministry was being fruitful, so we said, ‘Lord we are tired but you are able to give more grace, so we receive from you the energy and vitality we need.’
This last year we went through an evaluation but this time with others who helped us to recognise that pruning was necessary. To prune you need to discern what the Lord is saying to you with regards to: Where you are going, what your assignment is for this season and what he wants you to accomplish. You may have written all kinds of direction statements over the years but they need to be revisited and reviewed on a regular basis. Everyone calls these statements different names – mission, vision, purpose, passion, etc. So whatever you call them, now is the time to take a re-look at what you have written and do some tweaking, or re-writing to come into alignment with what God is presently saying to you.
I have come up with my own names for specific types of direction statement, so here are three aspects of our direction – passion, strategy and target. Each of these need reviewing but the passion statement is usually much longer lasting. The target statement may change every few years unless there is a very long range target and the strategy statement will change as your approach to reaching your passion is re-shaped in order for you to become more fruitful.
Passion Statement: What do you do that is life giving? What do you dream about accomplishing? What brings a sense of fulfilment? What makes you feel like you are living a life of abundance? Passion comes from our heart. When you are wholehearted about something, you give it your total focus. If you have a heart for something, you are going to be committed to it. What is that heart passion for you?
Paul talked about his ‘one thing’. “I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” Paul was a church planter and reached out in evangelism to the gentiles and those who knew nothing of the gospel. He laid a foundation for the gospel in the major cities and established churches and elders and took them through basic discipleship. In his later life, his ‘one thing’ became his writing and passing on teaching and wisdom to the churches he had planted. Two thousand years later, we still benefit from those writings. He would have had no idea how influential he was going to be throughout history.
King David is seen even as a young boy writing songs and loving to worship his God. He is musical and expressive in his words. We may be impressed with his victory over Goliath and the many battles he won and how he united Israel, but actually we benefit the greatest from his psalms and his heart after God in worship. He writes, “The one thing I ask of the Lord — the thing I seek most— is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord ’s perfections and meditating in his Temple.” His passion was to worship and inspire others to do so and multitudes have been drawn into God’s presence through his writing. From his passion for music, he commissioned singers and musicians to write and play music for the Lord. He has inspired generations since then, to worship God from the heart and be free to express themselves, just as he did personally as he danced before the Lord as the ark of the Lord was brought into Jerusalem.
Target statement: We all need something to look forward to in the coming months, something to focus our attention on that will motivate us and keep us on track. A target is a goal, a mile stone, a marker on the journey towards our passion. Our targets will change and grow, whereas our passion remains constant. But without a target we can lose heart.
Paul’s primary target was to see churches established in the major cities around the Mediterranean. Another target was to keep in touch with the leaders he was discipling and the churches he had planted, in order to see them grow and develop. We don’t have access to any specific goals that Paul had, but I am sure he had some, being a high task visionary leader.
Once David had united Israel, he had a target to establish what was called ‘David’s tabernacle’ – a tent of meeting, a tent of worship where musicians, worship leaders and writers were worshipping the Lord day and night – the first 24/7 movement. Another target was to build a temple for the people of Israel to worship God. Having had the go ahead from the prophet, he began drawing up the plans and gathering resources. However, the prophet Nathan came back to him with the news that the Lord wanted David’s son to be the builder and so David’s job became one of preparation for the building rather than build it himself.
Strategy statement: How are we going to see our passion realised, and our targets or goals reached? What methods, activities, ministries, approaches will we use? Strategies will change but the passion will remain. There are many ways of getting from A to B. Some will be better than others and often it’s a matter of trial and error to find out the best strategies to employ.
Paul began with a strategy of missionary journeys. He and Barnabas teamed up and worked together very well, until they had the disagreement over John Mark. The outcome though was multiplication and more journeys were the result. He often seemed to start in a city with miracle workshops which drew crowds and enabled him to preach to large audiences. His personality was such that he made a grand entrance, preached with the power of God being evident and everyone watched, listened and responded. Some with a heart to believe, others with anger and persecution. Another strategy was to leave team members in the newly planted churches to bring stability and teaching. At times he established training schools like the DTS to create strong foundations in the believers. A strategy that emerged was writing letters that could be re-read many times over to remind them of foundational truths and basic doctrine.
David’s strategy was to create a worship ministry. He set up auditions for leadership roles in worship leading, song writing and playing all kinds of instruments. I am sure they began a music academy to have musicians learning and training to take their place in the tabernacle schedule.
He also established the priesthood and solidified the calendar of events, celebrations and sacrifices that brought the Israelites together as a nation.
We are used to the idea of strategizing for ministry development but somehow don’t connect strategy with developing relationally. We have desires for growth in our relationships and personal development but for some reason don’t work this through using the tools we use for ministry. So for example, in my relational roles of father, husband or friend, I may want to be grow in these roles but somehow just hope that I will grow by default. If we have plateaued in these roles it is going to take energy and motivation to renew a fresh passion and some clear goals and strategies to move forward.
So just as we can have our ‘one thing’, or our passion for ministry, we can also have our ‘one thing’ or passion for our relationships. For instance, I will be a father all my life – it’s an important role I fulfil. So I can ask myself – 1. What is my passion as a father? Who do I want to be as a father? What purpose do I want to see fulfilled as a father?
- What is a target that I can work towards over the next season of time (1-2-5 years)? What is something I really want to see happen? Some change that will impact the lives of our family? A rhythm of life and communication? An intimacy of relationship?
- What strategies will I apply? How will I get to accomplish my desires? What can I do to see development take place? In what ways can I reach my goals?
Take some time to pray about the direction of your life in ministry and your relationships and find a fresh focus and anointing from the Lord as you do.
Until next month
P.S. Stephe’s examples of ministry and relational direction statements:
Passion (since 1993):
- Develop leaders worldwide who will live, love and lead like Jesus
- Establish LDC’s in Eastern, Central and Northern Europe over the next two years.
- Pioneer b2b’s in 5 regions over the next 5 years.
- Develop leaders for LDC’s & b2b’s through staff training
- Encourage the development of leader learning communities in every region of the world
- Leadership teaching and training in conferences and seminars and individual mentoring.
Passion as a father:
- I desire to be a father who maintains a vital relationship with my adult kids and in-laws, who passes on wisdom, is available, approachable and supportive in any and every situation they find themselves.
Current Target as a father:
- Celebrate our 40thwedding anniversary with all the family in spring 2019
Strategies as a father:
- Regular prayer for each member of the family;
- Regular communication every week by facetime, messenger, email, family facebook;
- Organise family events where we can meet together from around the world;