I have been a fan of Google since the days when it was “only” a search engine. In fact, google.com is still the default home page on my browser. Over the years, I’ve added Gmail, YouTube, Google Apps, and a host of other things to my favorite list. I’ve used AdWords, AdSense, and Analytics. Up until two years ago when I finally succumbed to the iPhone tsunami, I was an Android user.
One of the reasons I have been a fan of Google is their constant pursuit of innovation. If something doesn’t work, no big deal — learn from it and stop doing it.
Back in 2011, Susan Wojcicki (employee #16 at Google) wrote a fascinating article describing what she calls the pillars of Google’s success. Although it’s five years-old, it’s still a great article and I would encourage anyone in leadership to read it (especially church planters!).
The first pillar shouldn’t be surprising. She puts it this way: “Have a mission that matters.”
Sometimes the obvious isn’t so obvious. Of course every business or church or non-profit institution should have a mission that matters. Isn’t that why they do what they do?
I know some of you are smiling right now.
You’ve been in those business meetings where the weeds have choked out the purpose and passion.
You’ve attended one of those churches where the squabbles and conflicts are over matters of tradition, not about how to save the world.
You’ve been asked to give to a non-profit that has questionable spending practices.
But when you work for a business that has a clear and compelling mission, you know it. You sense it. There is a self-reinforcing aspect to the culture. Deviations from the mission aren’t tolerated. You hire with the mission in mind; you also fire with the mission in mind.
Successful businesses stay the course. Mediocre ones have replaced a mission that matters with one that is, well, mediocre.
As a pastor, I believe the mission of the church is rooted in the character of God and revealed in the written word of God. Each local expression will take on the unique flavor of that community, but the basic mission stays the same.
In other words, every church ought to have a mission that matters. From my perspective, the church is the only organization that deals with matters of eternity, not just matters of life and death. Knowing that people have an eternal destiny and will spend it with or without God sets us on a mission that matters.
How do you know if your business or church has a mission that matters?
Let’s start by asking a series of questions:
- What does it take to get people to join your effort?
- Are people excited about what you’re doing?
- Do you have to beg and cajole people to get involved or do they voluntarily step forward?
- Do workers or volunteers routinely go the extra mile without being asked?
- Does it feel like work or an adventure?
- Would anybody care if your business or church closed its doors?
To be fair, you might have a mission that matters and just not be communicating it clearly. That lack of clarity will diminish even the best of missions. In fact, a lack of clarity opens the door for lesser missions to creep in.
I believe every person was made to be involved in a mission that matters. It’s what gives our personal lives meaning, purpose, and fulfillment. In the best of situations, our personal mission matches our vocation and avocation. We find alignment with where we work, worship, and serve.
If you are a leader of any size group, the best time you can spend is to reflect on and refine your mission. Stay at it until you are convinced it really matters.
Then invite others to join you.
Here are a few Google-related books.