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Ask Jani: “On writing a Life Mission Statement”

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Episode Synopsis

Jani answers questions from listeners on writing a life mission statement and how to set goals for a specific decade of your life.

Audio Transcript

Jani Ortlund: Hello, everyone. I hope you had a very Merry Christmas and are still enjoying some family time. Ray and I really loved our time with our kids, and grandkids and we’re happy to be back in Franklin now and back at work.

For our podcast today, I wanted to do an Ask Jani and then, in early January, we’ll go back to our discipleship series but I imagine for many of you, it’s hard for you to meet in your discipleship groups over the Christmas holidays. I know our group doesn’t meet for those two weeks. So I thought it might be fun for us to take some time to answer two questions that have been sent in by listeners.

Question 1: How To Put Together A Life Mission Statement

Here’s the first question:

”I’ve been trying to write my life mission statement. And I’m praying through it, but I’m struggling to put one together. I’m 25 years old, married with no kids, and my desire is to lead a simple life, raising a godly family, eventually Lord-willing, and growing in my personal sanctification and knowledge of God. But this isn’t a grand or exciting mission statement. I also struggle because I don’t know what God does have in store for my life. Do you have any advice for someone like me?”

Oh, I love this question. And I want to say that your goal, your desire, to lead a simple life, raising a godly family and growing in sanctification and knowledge of God, that is so grand! That’s much more grand than you’re giving yourself credit for. That’s beautiful. Oh my.

And really, when you think of it, none of us knows what God has in store for us. Are you single? You’re not sure that you will be married in this life. Are you married? Well you don’t know how long you’ll be married. You could be a widow. Do you have children? Or do you want them and you don’t know if you’re going to have them? Do you want grandchildren but you don’t know if they’re going to come? Oh, so many questions. No one can write a life mission statement knowing what is in store for him or her. That’s why we write it before we get to the end of our life.

Tip: Center your Life Mission Statement around a Verse

Here are a couple hints I would give you although I frankly think to lead a simple life, raising a godly family—Lord-willing—and to keep growing in my personal sanctification and knowledge of God, that would be a wonderful life mission statement. Oh my goodness, think if all the Christians in the world attained to that. So don’t throw yourself under the bus too soon.

But here are some things that might help you. Maybe ask God to give you a verse. Choose a verse that you could center your life mission on. I think during this season of Mary when she was visited by the angel and told that she was going to bear, through the Holy Spirit, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Most High. What was her response? It was this in Luke 1:38,

“Behold, I am the servant of the Lord. Let it be to me according to your word.”

Luke 1:38

You could take that verse and write a life mission statement from it something like, “I want to be a bond servant of the Lord Jesus Christ from this day forward until I see him face to face. I want everything in my life to revolve around his word, my love of it, my obedience to it.” Something like that. You could write your own mission statement from that verse in Luke 1:38.

Or here’s another verse, Psalm 37:3 says,

“Trust in the Lord and do good. Dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.”

Psalm 37:3

I like that: “trust in the Lord and do good.” That’s a great mission statement. Dwell in the land. Dwell means to, to settle in, don’t run away from where God has called you. And befriend faithfulness. Make faithfulness your companion, choose to live as a faithful woman of God. You see, that verse could be your life mission.

So I would encourage you to ask God for a verse. If you’re not sure how to word your life mission statement, word it around his eternal word, you can’t lose.

Don’t be too anxious about this effort. Your life mission statement can be refined at any time. The questions you want to answer are these.

  1. Why do I think the Lord made me and put me in this place during this historical setting?
  1. How can I best fulfill His purposes for me?

You might want to share your life mission statement with a friend or maybe your pastor’s wife if she’s willing, or someone else whom you respect. See what they think. Do they have any help for you any advice or suggestions? Would they be willing to pray over it with you together? And then go back and refine it, commit it to the Lord and leave it with him. Put it in a safe place and refer back to it time and again. Change it as needed but seek to show yourself as one who is striving to serve the Lord and following him.

Question 2: Setting Goals For The Next Decade

Now, here’s a second question. And it’s about setting goals. This will be good for us to talk about here at the end of one year, as we enter in to a new year. We’re going to be talking about goals in January in our discipleship series. This listener writes in,

“I have a question for you about setting goals for a specific decade in my life. I am now going into my 30s. God has been so good to me in my 20s. I so appreciate your podcasts on goal setting and how you come back to that from time to time to get on track with where the Lord is taking you. I’m wondering if you had any specific goals for your 30s that you could share with me. My heart’s desire is for even greater intimacy with the Lord and to continue to be faithful in the daily responsibilities he’s called me to. However, after pouring myself into my husband and kids in my 20s, I’m kind of lost as to what life could look like. What were your 30s like for you and what goals or dreams did you find yourself setting after having young kids and realizing that you still have a full life ahead of you with so much more to look forward to?”

“What Were Jani’s 30s Like?”

Well, what an interesting question. I’m not sure that the decade of my 30s would look exactly like yours. In fact, I’m sure it wouldn’t. We moved four times. Let me share with you a little bit about my 30s.

It was a hard decade for me. We lived in four different places. We started out in Mountain View, California where Ray was a pastor. We had three little ones there. When I reached the age of 30. They were ages four, three, and two. When I was 31, we moved overseas to Scotland for four years for Ray to earn his Ph.D. at the University of Aberdeen and we were there for four years. Those were wonderful. I had our fourth baby there, Gavin. And then when Ray was done there in 1985, we moved stateside to Eugene, Oregon where Ray planted the first PCA church in Oregon. That’s the Presbyterian Church in America. We were there for four years. And then in 1989, when I was 39 years old, and the kids were 12, 11, 10, and 5, we moved to Libertyville, Illinois where Ray had been called to teach Old Testament and Hebrew at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

I must say, I was so glad my mother-in-law, Anne Ortlund, had encouraged me to write out my lifetime goals before I hit this hard decade in my life. When I was 25, my mother-in-law shared with me how someone had taught her to write lifetime goals and she found them so helpful that she wanted to share the idea with me and she did. Actually, my lifetime goals carried me through my 30s. I would review them each January and I would set new short-term goals for the year.

A Few Of Jani’s Lifetime Goals

Goal: Seeking God

So let me read to you some of my lifetime goals and you’ll see how they can apply to any decade, but they would have especially applied to the decade of my 30s. Here’s my first goal:

“To abandon myself in seeking to know God, especially through daily times with him.”

Well, that meant in my 30s, I wanted to continue to have daily quiet times. I wanted to go deeper with him. I wanted to make him my first priority.

Goal: Study the Word

Here’s another goal:

“To make a life-long study of the Word, eventually being able to teach it to women.”

Well, a life-long study that meant well in my 30s, what was I going to study? Were there certain books of the Bible I wanted to get under my belt? Were there any classes I wanted to take? How could I get to know God’s word more deeply than I could get to know in a daily quiet time? And then, if God opened a door, begin to teach it to women. To spend my energies, however God leads, showing God and His Word to people. That meant when we moved to Scotland, that I gathered three or four interested women and led them in a Bible study. Or when we moved to Oregon, I began discipling women there.

Goal: Love My Husband

Here’s another one that relates to my husband, I was still married in my 30s and this is what I’d written in my 20s:

“To love, respect, and submit to Bud” (that’s what we called him in those days, he’s Ray now, ”in such a way as to bring glory to God, the body of Christ, and to Bud himself.”

I had first Peter 3:6 written there.

Goal: Raise Godly Children

And then another goal that really spread into my 30s was,

“To raise three or more godly, faithful, loving, and self-controlled children.”

Those were the attributes that I wanted my kids to show. I wanted to concentrate on them. That they would love the Lord, that they would be faithful, full of integrity, that they would be loving, they would know how to love, they would feel my love and know how to express love to others, and that they would be self-controlled, that they would learn how to control their little bodies, their emotions, their attitudes.

Goal: Take Care of the Home

Another goal to be a wise, efficient and happy homemaker. So I, you know, that carries on in into my 30s, I was still keeping a home then, Proverbs 31.

Goal: Keep Catching My Husband’s Eye

Here’s one that still applied in my 30s:

“To keep myself trim, attractive, and appealing to Bud in my clothing, my weight, my hair, my personality, and my intellect.”

I didn’t want to lose the edge in my marriage. So I made it a lifetime goal, to keep trying to figure out how I could keep catching Bud’s eye, in the clothes that I wore, in how much I studied the word and could interact with him on that, in my personality. Was I becoming a boring old nag or was I fun to live with? Those kinds of questions. That became important in my 30s when we lived in those four different places and I was tempted to complain and grumble.

Goal: Lead Others To The Lord

Another goal I had was, and is,

“To lead five women to the Lord.”

At that point, in my 20s I had not let anyone to the Lord that I knew of. In my 30s there were two women who I had the privilege of leading to Jesus Christ.

So hopefully that gives you, I have a couple other lifetime goals, but can you see how if you write lifetime goals that are biblical, and life-giving to you and others, then they carry through any decade. These goals that I read to you I’m still working on today. I’ve added my grandchildren, obviously, and some writing goals. But if you write lifetime goals, then you will be able to live with them throughout your whole life.

I hope this helps you as you think about heading into your 30s. Or maybe for other listeners, your 40s, your 50s, your 60s or 70s. Be women who are willing to set goals and ask the Lord for them. Ask the Lord to guide you, and then help you for His glory for his good to achieve them. He’ll get the glory and you’ll get the joy and it’ll be wonderful.

A Year-End’s Thank You

Now, let me close our final podcast of the year with two items. One is thank you for sending in your questions! I’m sorry I haven’t been able to answer them all. I’m going to try to answer some personally and others I’m hoping to be able to answer through podcasts. But I do thank you. If any of you have questions, please, please send them in to our website at herestoresmysoul.org.

Finally, I want to thank those of you who have sent in gifts to Renewal Ministries. To help us continue this podcast, which is funded by Renewal Ministries. We couldn’t do it without your generosity. And we want to thank you, you will be receiving a letter in January with our personal thanks. But I wanted to thank you over the podcast because without your gifts, I wouldn’t be able to do this each week and our listeners would not be able to benefit. You are the ones who have given and God loves a cheerful giver.

Now as your year draws to a close, I want to thank you again for listening. And I pray that He would restore your souls through this tiny ministry. God bless you.

Thank You

Thank you for joining us today. This podcast is generously funded through Renewal Ministries. If you would like to discover more about Jani and Ray’s ministry or make a donation, visit their website at renewalministries.com. If you have a question for Jani or would like to learn more about this podcast, please visit our website at herestoresmysoul.org.

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About The Podcast

He Restores My Soul with Jani Ortlund seeks to encourage women with God’s renewing power for their busy lives. Episodes include relevant biblical teaching, stimulating gospel conversations with other Christians, and “Ask Jani” sessions where we talk about what’s on our listeners’ hearts.

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