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 wrote in my last post, discovering one’s personal vision is perhaps the most vital activity in which a person can engage. It is one of the most important keys to finding your path in life and identifying the mission which you have been called to follow. Having a clearly articulated personal vision statement gives one a template of purpose that can be used to initiate, evaluate, and refine all of one’s 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, how do you develop one? What are the characteristics of a well-developed statement? 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 is 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, does 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 reads “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” Who you are is a clue to what he 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 (Hebrews 12:1-3).
Though it is important, 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) Available March 2014.
I hope these help you craft your own personal vision.
This article originally appeared on the website of the Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics.