Saturday, January 10, 2015


Around January 1 I saw an article entitled something like “Instead of New Year’s Resolutions Try a Mission Statement.” I didn’t read the article, but the headline was all I really needed. It sounded like a good idea - for several reasons. I won’t even bother critiquing the whole silly idea of making promises to oneself every January first.

I googled “mission statement” and got almost 18 million hits.  One way of understanding the phrase would be that a mission statement talks about HOW you will get to where you want to be. It defines your purpose and primary objectives related to your core values.

It’s not a “vision statement” (which is about the future). Maybe that’s what new year’s resolutions are, vision statements: You envision yourself losing twenty pounds in the coming year.

So when a friend asked me “What are your new year’s resolutions this year?” I immediately thought of that unread article with the fascinating title, and emailed back “I’m not doing resolutions, I’m doing a mission statement.” And at the same moment I realized that at the turn of the year I had indeed written a couple of ideas in my prayer journal that sounded like a mission statement, so I’ll share them with you.

Jan. 4, 2015.  Mother Teresa truly believed that text from Matthew, “Whatsoever you do to the least one, you do it to me.” Maybe a 2015 resolution can be to truly make that a practical guiding principle for myself in my admittedly closed little world.
Please then, Lord, give me the gift of finding you in everyone, especially in the people I find difficult to be kind and generous to.

Jan. 5, 2015. Mother Teresa once told Malcom Muggeridge the goal of her sisters working with the poor: “We want to make them feel that they are loved.” Now, how’s that for a goal for a classroom teacher? It’s a wonderful goal, a new year’s resolution.”  

It was the next day that my friend asked me what my 2015 resolutions were. Alhough I hadn’t even remembered using the word “resolutions” in my journal, I was well aware that I’d written some important ideas for myself that had to do with how I could live out my Christian calling.

So, I hope that not too many of my acquaintances, students or relatives read this post, because they’re going to see how often I fall short of my mission statement.  Resolutions get “kept” or they get “broken,”but mine is not a resolution that can be broken,it's “a statement of how I will get to where I want to be,” something against which I can measure my behavior maybe, or a guide that can help me to make the right decisions relative to who and where I want to be.

An obstreperous sophomore starts acting out in my class. Mother Teresa’s voice whispers that
missions statement: “We want to make them feel that they are loved.”

Someone interrupts me while I’m doing something I consider important, and asks if I have a couple of minutes. I dont. But then that line from Matthew sounds in my ear: “Whatsoever you do to the least one, you do it to me.”

Yeah, I think maybe this could work. Let’s see if it lasts longer than a resolution.

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