Thursday, June 9, 2011

We Do Not Lose Heart

Yesterday I led some of our staff through the first half of a triennial strategic planning session for our organization. We split the staff into two teams (dubbed Alpha and Bravo) and scheduled two off-site planning sessions, one for each team. Alpha Team met yesterday and was responsible for drafting the Purpose Statement, Core Values and Vision Statement. Our Mission Statement is already written, otherwise that would've been in the mix, too. Next week, Bravo Team will be tasked with creating Goals, Objectives and Strategies. By the end of this process, we should have a fairly workable strategic plan, and then we'll get to move into some focused team building with our staff. It's an exciting time in our agency's history, to be sure, and I'm looking forward to the progress we see in the months to come.

I Have a Dream

After we walked through our Mission statement, considered our Purpose and identified our Core Values, it was time for my favorite part: the Vision Statement. I was so excited (and a little nervous) to see what our folks would name as our vision - as the ultimate in achievement for our organization. I tried to give the team as detailed an explanation of vision statements on the front end as possible, and I think I might have even gone a little overboard. You know, really, a vision statement can be summed up as: a description of the ideal - the pinnacle of what we want the organization to be in the future. What is the ultimate for us? Where do we want to be?

Easy enough, right?

Right. I'm pleased to report that, despite my bumbling definitions, the group did a bang-up job of drafting our vision statement. I'm very happy with what we have, and I think they are, too. You know, the interesting thing about a well-written vision statement is that it's not just this ambiguous bag of words that you toss into the air because all of it sounds pretty. Is it meant to be inspiring? Yes. Is it meant to be lofty? Absolutely. But it is also meant to be relevant to the journey. A truly valuable vision statement will provide guidance to members of the organization as they make decisions, it will remind them of why they are about they business they are about, and it will compel them to focus on what lies ahead, rather than what is behind.

Inside Out

So, we wrote this beautiful vision statement, and after seven hours of training, talking, list-making, thinking and debating, we were ready to call it a day. I headed north to pick Livi up and get to worship team rehearsal. I grabbed the songs we're doing on Sunday and fired up the playlist. As I listened to the various lyrics - words of ultimate commitment, faith and surrender - all I could think was: how can I say all of that? Do I really mean this stuff? Does my life reflect that I have a right to speak those words? Maybe I should tell Dena to take me off the schedule...until I can, you know, be perfect.

Then it hit me. No one can say these words and have them be 100% true in the present. Because in the present, we are mortal beings, bound by flesh, torn in the struggle and stained with all of humanity...human.

But it's still the Vision, I heard, and I realized the Truth in what I'd spent my day teaching. In remembering that a vision statement is a perfect-world picture of who and what we want to be in the future. A declaration that guides us from one day to the next as we endeavor to reach the ideal. Is that the key? That echoing these words reminds me to strive ever onward, upward? That, full well knowing I will not achieve absolute holiness in my handful of human days, my steps can still be marked by its pursuit? And by the conviction that this is the best of all journeys?

I relaxed. I took a breath. And I belted out words that are meant in deep, deep places of my soul. Places that this broken down skin cuts off at the pass far too often. And I kept singing because I know that this perfect-world picture of ultimate surrender, ultimate commitment, ultimate trust - it's not just a pretty painting hanging on a wall somewhere. It's my future. It's the vision that is held for me. And the wonderful, amazing, blissfully beautiful thing about it is that I can trust that I will get there. My agency may never completely and fully realize its vision. Google probably won't 'develop a perfect search engine'. Toyota most likely will not 'provide the best customer experience and dealer support'. But one glorious day, my reality will at last, meeting face to face, I am Yours, Jesus, You are mine...

"Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set His seal of ownership on us, and put His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come."

2 Cor 1:21-22

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