By Jennifer Taylor
It’s common for businesses to display mission statements in their buildings and on their websites. However, some of these statements are so full of corporate clichés it’s hard to decipher what the company actually exists to do.
Scott Adams, creator of the “Dilbert” comic strip, even added a Mission Statement Generator to the Dilbert website. By plugging in random buzzwords, the program created mission statements suitable for any company: “It is our job to continually foster world-class infrastructures and quickly create principle-centered sources to meet our customers’ needs.”
What’s the Point?
Not surprisingly, popular business author Seth Godin believes many of these statements are ineffective at best.
“Mission statements used to have a purpose,” he writes. “The purpose was to force management to make hard decisions about what the company stood for. A hard decision means giving up one thing to get another.”
When the mission isn’t definitively stated, it’s easy to rationalize any choice—to “punt,” as Godin puts it, instead of taking a stand. And it’s easy for us to become cynical about any company’s claims when they all sound similarly vague.
On a Mission
But Jesus knew his mission and shared it clearly. Earlier in John we read his gentle remark to Mary that his “time had not yet come.” In Matthew 4 he walked boldly into the synagogue and said he fulfills the prophecies of Isaiah. And when confronted by Pilate, the Roman prefect, he focused on his purpose.
“For this reason I was born,” he says, “and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”
Not much wiggle room there! Jesus knew what he stood for and made the hard decision to share the truth, even to a hostile audience. Instead of backing down, Jesus gave up earthly comfort to rescue us from sin.
I can tolerate everyone from my drycleaner to my dentist claiming to “exceed the expectations of our customers” (not hard). But when it comes to questions of meaning and truth, I’m glad to have a Savior who’s more specific.
Jennifer Taylor is a freelance writer and editor in Nashville, Tennessee.