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. For many, if not all, the most difficult part of this process has been the answer to a simple question: What is the difference between vision and mission?

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Unique Privilege

A few of us on the ILI Team have had the privilege of teaching vision sessions in every continent to men and women of all ages and walks of life. Prayerfully discerning one’s God-given vision and mission, articulating each clearly, and setting goals to ensure success can be life-changing for those who apply themselves.

What’s the Difference?

When I teach this particular subject, a number of questions are sure to arise, but there is one recurring question that surfaces at every training event:

What is the difference between vision and mission?

This question usually surfaces when participants attempt to articulate their God-given vision and mission, writing them in two simple, guiding statements. So, how do you write two different and relevant statements to reflect your God-given vision and mission?

Understand the Difference

As George Barna states, vision is “a mental image of a preferable future.” A mental image is like a picture, a snapshot of a future time when your vision is accomplished. Mission is the process of getting there, the path to the preferable future God has shown you.

How to State Your Vision and Mission

If vision is the final product of God’s purpose in my life and mission is the path to getting there, my vision and mission statements will have some small, but significant differences. I have found the following two unique recommendations to clarify this difference for most people.

  • Vision Has NO Action Verbs – A simple way to write a vision statement is to avoid action verbs like “to build… to establish… to evangelize… to launch,” etc.

  • Mission Has A LOT of Action – Mission is about getting things done. Save those action verbs that come to your mind for the mission statement.

  • Vision is a Static Description – If your vision is the final product of your mission and goals, write as though you are describing a scene. Be an eyewitness to your completed vision.

  • Mission is the Roadmap – Once you paint your mental image on paper (i.e., your vision statement), imagine a roadmap from your current place and time to that finished product. A word of warning: Don’t get bogged down with details and practical steps. Those are your goals that will come later in the process. Take a “birds-eye” view of the road to your vision.

These two simple recommendations have helped many leaders, including myself, gain clarity of purpose and vision for our lives.

What is your vision? Can you paint your mental image into a clear and compelling statement?
What is your mission? Can you plot the path from here to your preferable future?