Your personal ministry is the process through which you live your faith, values, and morality in the world around you. Each of us has a personal ministry, meaning we all interact with our families and communities in some way. Understanding this, the question becomes how can we each use our ministries to bring about a positive change? What can we do to lift those around us instead of acting as an anchor?
The first step to tackling “how” and “what” is to fully develop “why.” This is the formulation of your vision, a key exercise that will help you make the most of your personal ministry efforts.
Author and certified project manager Lawrence Hobbs provides details of the critical vision setting procedure in his book Strategic DNA: Bringing Business Strategy to Life. His work is used at major organizations around the world. He describes a vision as including the broad characteristics your personal ministry will possess once you put your plans into action.
Hobbs states, “Think of a vision as a collective view of the overarching goals. The goals represent how different an organization expects itself to be in the future, and each of them should describe desired characteristics. You can expect a vision to evolve as internal, industry, market, and other factors change.”
He goes on to describe two specific methods used to determine what our vision might include. The first is the outside-in approach. When applied to your personal ministry this approach starts by looking at the needs of the community around you and deciding best how to meet those needs. For example, you might notice a neighborhood park becoming covered in litter. The community has a need for a clean park. You realize you hold a passion for the outdoors and possess skills in cleaning. When the outside need is coupled with your skills and passions you decide to clean the park during your evening walks.
The second method is the inside-out approach. Here you begin by looking first at what you bring to the table, taking the time to note your spiritual gifts, passions, experiences, talents, and personality. You then reach out to your community using this unique combination of attributes. Looking again at our litter example the process changes slightly. This time you start internally by recognizing your passion for being outdoors. You also appreciate your knack for keeping things clean. In fact, you enjoy the parts of your job that require you to pick things up and organize them. With this tool bag in hand you then search your community for a need where it might make a difference. You recall the littered park and decide to clean it during your evening walks.
Both the outside-in and inside-out approaches led to the same result, a vision of having a litter-free park. No matter where you start in developing your vision it is critical to balance both external needs and internal attributes. Too much emphasis on the former will cause you to eventually feel burdened and limit your actions to supporting the status quo. Too much focus on the latter results in forcing something onto an unreceptive community.
Hobbs concludes his discussion on developing a vision with the following thoughts, adapted here to address your personal ministry. “A good vision statement describes what (your personal ministry) is committing itself to become or deliver. It is a statement of intent that provides a compass heading—not an exact route—toward the desired future. It should be reasonable, realistic, and rational, but it should also represent a stretch from (your ministry’s) current state. Although many vision statements are very brief, there is no rule that it must be contained in a single sentence. The statement needs to use enough words to clearly, but still concisely, explain what the vision means. Aim for a vision statement that outlines where (your ministry) plans to get to, what it will look like when it gets there, and a handful of major goals it expects to achieve en route.”
Do you want to represent your faith to those nearby? The first step is to examine both the community needs and what you have to offer. Take time to match the two up and you’ll be well on your way to establishing an effective vision.