One of the most transformational parts of the ILI training is our teaching on The Power of Vision. Leaders all over the world have been able to identify their God-given vision, determine their mission, and set SMART goals to guide them in accomplishing God’s purpose for their lives. But for many, the most difficult part of this process is simply understanding the difference between vision and mission.
What's the Difference?
I have had the privilege of teaching our vision session in almost every continent to men and women of all ages and walks of life, but no matter where or who I teach, one question is sure to arise.
What is the difference between
vision and mission?
As George Barna states, "vision is a mental image of a preferable future.” A mental image is like a picture or a snapshot of the future when God’s purpose for your life is accomplished. Mission is the process of getting there, the path to the preferable future God has shown you.
How to Write a Vision and Mission Statement
If vision is the final product of God’s purpose in your life and mission is the path to getting there, your vision and mission statements will have some small, but significant differences. I have found two unique recommendations helpful to clarify this difference.
Know When to Use Action Verbs. When writing your vision statement, avoid action verbs like “to build, to establish, to evangelize, to launch, etc.” On the other hand, mission is about getting things done. Save those action verbs that come to mind for the mission statement.
Know Where Each Lies on the Map. Your vision is the final product, or final destination, of your mission and goals. So, write your vision statement as though you are describing a scene. Be an eyewitness to your completed vision. Mission, however, is the road map that gets you to your destination. Once you paint your mental image on paper (your vision statement), imagine a map from your current place and time to that finished product. Don’t get bogged down with details and practical steps just yet. Your goals will take care of that. Take a "bird's-eye" view of the road to your vision.
Learning these two simple distinctions has helped many leaders, including myself, gain clarity of purpose and vision in our lives.
What is your vision? Can you transform your mental image of a preferable future into a clear and compelling statement?
What is your mission? Can you plot the path from here to your preferred future?