Most people that have read any leadership literature in the past decade are familiar with the language of mission: that is that we are supposed to have a “mission statement,” a clearly defined purpose, goal, or calling towards which we strive both individually and corporately.
I read this book today by John Ortberg and was so moved by it that I immediately bought a couple copies to give to people. Basically John Ortberg talks about how even though we each were created with a mission, we also each have a shadow mission: the dark side of our virtuous mission for which we were created and gifted.
Your shadow mission is what you drift into when you indulge yourself in your own desires, thoughts and cravings. Its when people put their lives on cruise control and the erosion of their character causes them to seek the paths of least resistance in life. It is a pattern of thought and action based upon temptation that leads us to betray our deepest values. The rejection of our mission in life inevitably leads to the acceptance of our shadow mission.
He tells of a retreat he went on where one of the speakers told a room full of men what his shadow mission was:
“My shadow mission is to watch TV and masturbate while the world goes to hell.”
After some nervous laughter from most of the men in the room due to the raw language he was using, he spoke again: “I’m going to say that again, and this time I want you to think and not laugh. My shadow mission is to watch TV and masturbate while the world goes to hell.”
Shadow missions, according to Ortberg, are what we foolishly pursue “while the world goes to hell.”
The staggering thing about your shadow mission is how easily we all can drift into it when we put our lives on autopilot and let them center around self.
We were created for a mission, and when we pursue our mission in life, the result is a better world in our wake and abundant life while we live in it. But the world suffers when men pursue shadow missions, and the only result is a world and a Church filled with hollow, lifeless men, wasting away their time on trivial pursuits…
Give this one a read … its a quick one, about 75 pages … then email me your thoughts.