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Thinking About Mission

Peter Drucker was a management consultant and author perhaps better known in the business world, but one commentator described him as the “Einstein of the social sciences” and responding to a feature article Drucker wrote for “The Atlantic” some years ago (“The Age of Social Transformation”), he went on to say that “Drucker’s piece is like a multi-disciplinary seminar on the social/political/economic changes of the twentieth century by one of its greatest thinkers.”

For good reason, then, has the church applied his work to its own internal life and ongoing mission and so might we do the same as individuals or as families or as members of any number of groups and organizations to which we belong.

Four questions in particular have found resonance with a variety of institutions and organizations. Drucker said these questions become especially critical at about 40-year intervals because by then an organization will have outgrown its policies and its rules of behavior. The questions:

1. What is your mission?

2. Is it still the right mission?

3. Is it still worth doing?

4. If we were not already doing this, would we now go into doing it?

A bit brazen perhaps, but to these four, I would add a fifth:

5. If money were not an issue, what are we not now doing that you would begin doing?

Faith communities often speak of how God may be speaking to us, calling us as individuals or communities to embrace a particular work. The Hebrew prophet Micah, for example, speaks of doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with God as the essence of religion (Micah 6.8, emphasis on the verbs added to underscore faith as an active, not passive, undertaking). Think of it as religion at its best.

Ever a good question: filtered through Micah in this passage, what might each of feel called to be and do?

In the last sentence of the “Atlantic” article, Drucker concluded with these words:

If the twentieth century was one of social transformations, the twenty-first century needs to be one of social and political innovations, whose nature cannot be so clear to us now as their necessity.

Innovative mission, divinely compelled … a reason to get up in the morning.