Jani: Hello, everyone. My husband is with me again today. I’m so grateful. Thank you, Ray, for joining us.
Ray: It’s a privilege. Thanks for letting me on.
Our Topic for Today
Jani: Well, today we have a very special topic. We want to talk about your purpose in life; about writing a “Life Mission Statement.”
Jani: A while back, Ray did this and it was so intriguing to me. I felt a little bit overwhelmed by it, thinking, “Oh, I could never do that,” but, Ray, you’ve helped me and I wanted to invite you on the podcast today to help us, as women, to be able to see God’s purpose for our individual lives, and to help us write our own individual mission statement.
Jani: You know, during this time of quarantines and lockdowns and travel bans, we don’t want to just limp through it. We don’t want to “just” survive — we want to thrive. When God thought us up, he knew we’d be living through this time in history. The Bible says in Isaiah 32:8 that “…he who is noble, plans noble things, and on noble things he stands.” Dear listener, we’re daughters of the King of the universe, so let’s enter into that nobility.
Jani: I believe one of the ways we can do that is to think through why God made me, little old Jani Ortlund, and to think through a mission statement for my very own life.
Jani: Now we’ve talked about goals before, and we’re going to circle back to that in a few weeks about writing our own goals for our life and our years. But today I’ve asked Ray to come in and help us think through what it means to write our own individualized, personal life mission statement. Honey, could you help us with that?
Before we get started
Ray: Sure. Well, let me try. I’ll just think out loud here for a couple of minutes. Let me say to every listener: you matter. You matter to God, and therefore you really matter. You are here in this place in the world and at this time in history, not by accident, but on purpose.
Ray: All we’re saying when we come to consider a life mission statement is: How can I gain clarity? How can I articulate and put into words my understanding of God’s purpose for me because I matter to him?
Ray: So this terrible time of suffering and at least this time of disruption for us all, it’s actually a great time to rethink our lives at a deep level. When everything is kind of thrown into upheaval, God’s purpose at this moment for all of us, surely, is to rethink our lives.
Ray: In John Chapter 20:21 Jesus says, “As the fathers sent me, even so I am sending you.” So the Father is a sender. And the English word “mission” comes from the Latin word, misseo, which means sending. So the Father sent Jesus. He came on purpose. He knew why he was here, and he accomplished his mission. Even so, the risen Jesus has sent us. You are here in his world, on his mission for you. When you embrace that and give utterance to that, you put that sense of purpose and mission into words. When we do that, we stop drifting and we start living.
Ray: We don’t want to come to the end of our days not having lived with purpose. So a life mission statement is simply a way of putting into words your own understanding of how and why Jesus has sent us even as the father sent him.
Ray: The Apostle Paul said this, “One thing I do…,” in Philippians 3:13. So he understood, he embraced, and he pursued the one reason why he existed. So you are here for a reason. It’s a sacred reason, and you can put that into words.
Here’s my Mission Statement (Ray)
Ray: So here’s how I’ve done it. And, by the way, give yourself permission as you’re thinking through and praying through asking the Lord for clarity, to say what you really believe, even if initially it’s so personal it might be embarrassing, and it’s so grand it might be embarrassing. If you have been sent into this world by the Living God your life matters to the ends of the Earth. The way God has designed reality, the way God orchestrates reality, you matter far beyond your own personal reach because God is making you matter more than you could in yourself. So here’s my mission statement…
Jani: …before you read that… Listener, don’t you see why I love this man and invited him to share this? It’s so helpful to me, Ray, because it dignifies me.
Ray: Yes, that’s right!
Jani: It helps me come out of my thumb sucking, “Who-am-I-poor-Jani-Ortlund she has nothing to offer type of mentality,” into, “Wait a minute! God created me with a purpose!” Thank you, honey.
Ray: Oh, honey, you know, sweetheart, I’m the world champion whiner and complainer. So you’ve taught me so much about this, honey.
Jani: Well, share with us your mission statement and then help us learn how to write our own.
Ray: Okay, here’s how I put it into words:
“My mission in life and in death is to serve as a living stimulant toward the next great awakening in America and to the ends of the Earth.”Ray Ortlund
Jani: Oh, read that once more!
Ray: “My mission in life and in death…”—because I want not only to live for this, I want to die for this—“…is to serve…”—and “serve” is a word of humility, and it’s a word of taking the low place. The low place is where everything gets better…
Jani: …it can only go up from there, is that what we’re thinking?
Ray: That’s right—God gives grace to the humble, and he opposes the proud. That’s from cover to cover in the Bible. So my mission in life and in death is “to serve as a living stimulant”—what I’m praying for is that my life would be motivating to people, that my life would be radiant and giving light, that my life would stir people toward Jesus—“as a living stimulant toward the next great awakening…”—and now I’m thinking of the first great awakening in the 1740’s in America where the Holy Spirit was poured out and thousands of people came to Christ. The second great awakening in the 1800’s is when, again, thousands of people came to Christ. We need a third great awakening in our nation and in the world.
Ray: Jonathan Edwards taught us that when any church anywhere that follows the Bible teaches the Bible and loves Jesus and lifts up Jesus, the Holy Spirit is committed to being present in that ministry; he will be present. But the greatest things Edward taught, the greatest things that the Lord accomplishes are through the great outpourings of the Holy Spirit, the great awakenings that he sends. That’s when the tide of divine blessing washes over the world with unusual power. So we need a third great awakening!
Jani: Oh, yes.
Ray: So….“toward the next great awakening in America and to the ends of the earth.” Now I’m not going to visit the ends of the Earth. I’m very limited. I’m very located and very small. But God is not limited. And the whole Bible is a story of God taking limited, small, fallible people and doing amazing world-changing things through them. I believe that and I believe that every listener is a person of world-wide significance.
Jani: Say that again!
Ray: Well, it’s just true. I mean, if we are in Christ serving him, trusting him, loving him and living for him, he guarantees that our lives are worth living beyond all we can ask or imagine. Beyond our awareness, beyond our perception in this life, our lives are pushing dominoes over that reach all the way to the ends of the Earth.
Jani: Oh, how encouraging for us in these days.
Ray: Yeah, and so we are not wasting our lives by putting the Lord first. That’s how I give utterance to my “mission” in life. Listener, pray about this and ask the Lord for clarity and look for a verse of Scripture that resonates and just let the categories of the Bible, as you say, Jani, “dignify,” enlarge and elevate our sense of why we’re here. This is not about our personal big deal-ness and our grandiosity, this is about the glory of Christ on our time.
Ray: The whole problem with the world today is that Jesus doesn’t seem real. He’s a theory, he’s even orthodox theory but he’s not a reality. Listener, in your way, you are here for the real Jesus to become more real to people with historic repercussions that will go on to the 10th generation. And so go ahead and give yourself permission to believe that and give utterance to it.
Jani: Thank you, darling. That’s so helpful.
HERE’S MY MISSION STATEMENT (Jani)
Jani: Well, listener, you can understand why, as I’ve watched Ray write out his life mission, and as he shared it with me, I’ve been taught, encouraged, and motivated by the Holy Spirit to write out my own life mission. I’m a little bit nervous to share it today but honey could I share it with you and then you coach me through it? We want to ask you, as listeners, to put this before the Lord, think about it, pray about it, take a stab at it and write your own life mission.
Ray: …and you don’t have to get it right the first time.
Jani: …no, I’ve been working on this for a while. This is my third or fourth go-around. Let me read it. I’ve just thought as I’ve listened to you today of adding another word to it. I put, “My mission in life…” But as you explained, you want to be willing to die for this as well, right?
Ray: Yes. I’m going to die and I’m going to die in some particular way, and I’m going to die for some particular reason. Let’s say, for example, sweetheart, let’s say cancer takes me out. Something’s gonna take me out.
Jani: Oh, honey…
Ray: …it’s totally okay, babe! My death will have immeasurably more meaning, just as your death will, listener. Your death will have much more meaning than the physical cause of it. You will glorify God by the way you die. Jesus said that about Peter in John 21. And so, it’s not just in living for Christ, but also in dying for Christ, which is not necessarily martyrdom; it might be a virus that takes us out. But we can live, and we can die for the greater glory of Christ. Sorry to interrupt.
Jani: Interrupt all you want; these are holy interruptions in my estimation.
Jani: This is my mission statement honey. I’m going to read it, and I want you to coach me through it and maybe our listeners can understand how to begin writing their own. Maybe they’d share them with us. That would be great.
Ray: That would be wonderful.
Jani: “My mission in life…”—and now I’m going to add “…and death…”
“My mission in life and death is to gladly spend myself sharing the glories of Christ through discipleship, teaching and writing to the tenth generation.”Jani Ortlund
Ray: That’s compelling. Go ahead and read that again, sweetheart.
Jani: All right and I’ll try to explain why I chose certain phrases. “My mission in life and death is to gladly spend myself…”—that’s from 2 Corinthians 12:15 where Paul says “I will most gladly spend myself and be spent for your souls.”
Ray: And here’s why that’s compelling to me as I hear you say that. Like no one I’ve ever known, you are a person for others. You have a capacity to give your heart away.
Jani: Thank you, Ray, but we’ll carry on. That’s so kind of you but, yes, we’ll carry on. “…to gladly spend myself”—and I want it to be a “glad” expenditure. I don’t want to moan and groan and cry through it. I only have one life, why not gladly spend it? When I die, Ray, I want to fall before Jesus exhausted! Gloriously exhausted and be able to look back…
Ray: …and cheerfully exhausted.
Jani: Yes. Yay, I got to live for Christ! Oh, my goodness.
Jani: “My mission in life and death is to gladly spend myself…”—and this is what I want to do—“…sharing the glories of Christ.” Now, Ray, that’s where I might need your help; I don’t about that phrase. I couldn’t figure out what verb to use because I want to do it with children, I want to do it with women, I want to share with my very life but also with my words. So that leads me into the next phrase, “…through discipleship, through teaching and writing.”
Ray: Are those in order of priority, honey?
Jani: They are in order of my life sequence. I discipled my children in the home first, before ever started thinking about discipling a ton of people outside my home. And then as the children went to school, the Lord gave me a ministry of teaching women. Then, several years ago, he gave me an opportunity to start writing. So I see those three verbs as capturing how I want to share the glories of Christ.
Jani: I think of 2 Peter 1:15 where it says, “I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able to recall at any time these things.”
Ray: Those three things—discipling, teaching and writing—the Lord has already validated those ministries in your life. You’re already involved. You’re not trying to create something out of nothing. The Lord has clearly affirmed you in those ways already. So you know you’re on the right track.
Jani: Well, part of it is, honey, I’m 70. And so it’s easier to write a life mission statement at 70 because you’ve seen what the Lord has done! But what about our young listeners? Honey, how would you advise them? They’re not sure, but they have a longing, an eagerness, a yearning in their heart.
Ray: Well, I would say: write down what you understand at this time, and 10 years from now it’ll be different. But the Lord will lead you along with making mid-course corrections all the way along. And it will become clearer and clearer and clearer as the years go by. It will become more intense, more accelerated and more fruitful as the years go by. You’re on a journey, but a big part of that journey is giving words and giving meaning to where you’re going and why it matters.
Jani: Yeah, that’s so good. And we are going to talk, Heidi and I, in future podcasts about writing life goals which would come from your mission statement. So we’ll circle back to this, listener. You don’t have to get it all today.
Jani: But let me conclude with my final statement in my mission statement, which says, “…to the 10th generation.”
Jani: I really believe that our lives have impact out beyond today and my own children and grandchildren. I believe what I do today can impact far beyond a long time after I’ve died.
Ray: …even when we’re forgotten.
Jani: …when we’re forgotten, yes.
Ray: …will still matter.
Jani: …that’s right. So let me just say my mission statement again, and we’ll wrap this up. “My mission in life and death is to gladly spend myself sharing the glories of Christ through discipling, teaching and writing to the tenth generation.”
Ray: Wow. God bless you in that darling. May God grant it.
A prayer for us all
Jani: Oh, and may he help our listeners. Why don’t we just take a minute and I’ll pray for our listeners?
Jani: ”Father, thank you for giving us a purpose to love and serve the eternal King of the universe. Oh, my, we’re so grateful. And we don’t want to just drift along and spin our wheels. Lord, we want our lives to count for you. So would you help us? Would you help each listener today to think through some of these questions? Why? Why did you make them, Lord? What purpose do you have for them? Would you help each one to be able to begin to write out her life mission? Bless them, Father in Jesus’ name. Amen.”