Another Type of Mission

November 18th, 2011

Years ago, when I was working for a Fortune 500 company, I was blessed to have a very creative and supportive supervisor. She wanted her employees to not merely work for a paycheck, but to live their lives with a sense of purpose. She believed strongly in corporate training, and one of our many training days included an exercise where we were encouraged to write our own personal mission statements.

We were challenged to explore such questions as: What are our values? What is important to us? Why did we come to work every day? What is it we were trying to accomplish? For many the answer was that their mission was to raise their family. They came to work in order to earn money to support their family.

The exercise was interesting. However, my boss was surprised to learn that I had come to the company with a fully realized understanding of my mission in life. Frankly I had thought about it for so many years, and it was already so sophisticated, that a single training session wasn't going to add a lot.

In Mark 16:15 Jesus exhorts his disciples to "Go into the whole world and proclaim the good news to every creature. (CEB)" Ministry takes on many forms. In fact, in some cases ministry is not about talking to people, it's about process. One great example of this is the ministry of the Gideons. The Gideons distribute Bibles.

When you stop at a hotel, and open the drawer below the phone, it's likely you will find a Bible that was placed there by the Gideons. They didn't write the Bible—they don't come to your hotel room and preach a sermon from it—their mission is essentially a distribution process. Since 1908 they have distributed 1.7 billion Bibles, and I personally can attest that, thanks to the efforts of the Gideons, I've read the Bible much more than I otherwise would have.

My father was a preacher, and I've known from the time I was a child, that I don't share his gift for preaching. I can't speak in public, and that isn't the mission God has for my life.

Still, my fascination with my father's work has led me to try from time to time. Nietzsche said that which does not kill us makes us stronger. I'm glad Nietzsche was wrong, because otherwise I wouldn't be alive today. That experience certainly didn't make me stronger. Those experiences were painful, and even now I shudder to recall them.

But the talent that I do have is in the area of information technology. I can make the world a better place by using my talents in a way that glorifies God.

My ministry, my purpose in life, cannot be categorized as a traditional ministry. I am not going to lead any congregation, and I am not going to speak about my personal faith any better than my capabilities allow—which, without any false modesty, is limited.

I've been blessed in my life, not only to understand my mission, but to have been given the opportunity to practice it. As a database administrator, working for a publishing house that produces products for church leaders, I've felt comfortable that I've been practicing my faith safely, far removed from the public eye.

However, when the opportunity came to write an app for iPhone and Android phones, I took it. For the first time in my career a product I helped create is going to be viewed by the public.

Hopefully it will communicate God's message to a new audience.

I'm not comfortable working so close to the public, but with God's help, the mission continues.

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Robert Dupuy is a Business Analyst for the United Methodist Publishing House, and program designer for The Journey Advent Calendar iPhone and Android app.

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