From the desk of…
by Victor Doughty, Major –
What a surprise and delight for this father to discover one morning the following mission statement, authored by his 11 year-old son, taped to the bathroom mirror. It was the product of a public school teacher’s inspirational challenge to her students to put into words the foundational values upon which they would build their lives.
By Jonathan Doughty
This mission statement shall be read and fulfilled everyday until death or new mission statement.
I shall wake up each day happy and ready for a great day.
During school, I will try my hardest and never give up.
I promise to protect nature and all its living things.
I promise to fight for what I think is true, right and pure.
I promise to find (if I already haven’t) my talent and go for it.
I promise that I will live my life to its fullest value.
I promise to praise only my almighty God and attend church every Sunday unless sick.
I promise to never regret, always love, and stay true to my family, my friends and myself.
This is my mission and I will succeed.
Of course, personal mission statements are nothing new. In 1849, at the age of 20, William Booth outlined his own personal credo in the following six resolutions:
“I do promise—my God helping—
First, that I will rise every morning sufficiently early (say 20 minutes before seven o’clock) to wash, dress, and have a few minutes, not less than 5, in private prayer.
Second, that I will as much as possible avoid all that babbling and idle talking in which I have lately so sinfully indulged.
Third, that I will endeavor in my conduct and deportment before the world and my fellow servants especially to conduct myself as a humble, meek, and zealous follower of the bleeding Lamb, and by serious conversation and warning endeavor to lead them to think of their immortal souls.
Fourth, that I will not read less than four chapters in God’s word every day.
Fifth, that I will strive to live closer to God, to seek after holiness of heart, and leave providential events with God.
Sixth, that I will read this over every day or at least twice a week.
God help me, enable me to cultivate a spirit of self denial and to yield myself a prisoner of love to the Redeemer of the world.
Amen and Amen.”
Each of us has a code by which we live our lives and, when articulated, those life principles can serve as a helpful point of reference, a meaningful touchstone when we might be tempted to deviate from our own set of standards. No doubt, William Booth drew inspiration and challenge from the promises he made as a young man who had recently arrived in the city of London. These promises were only discovered and made known to the public after the Founder’s death. What a wonderful insight into the heart and mind of a young man standing at the crossroads who took seriously the fundamental values upon which he would build his life and ministry.
We all have those moments when we consider in a more thoughtful way the purpose and direction for our lives. As officers, we hope to forever preserve and nurture the passion and intensity, the heightened sense of calling that we experience when we are commissioned. For me, it has been helpful on more than one occasion to recall my own personal mission statement from 24 years ago:
Lord, help me to serve out of purest intent,
With purpose and motive, each thought shaped by you.
Let nothing self-seeking create discontent.
My highest ambition, a servant and true.
Lord, help me to serve where the problems are great,
Where conflict, confusion, contention surround.
Make music of discord and love out of hate,
That harmony, unity, peace may be found.
Lord, help me to serve those who others disdain,
With patience and kindness and genuine love.
Not judging, condemning but sharing their pain.
Lift all the despairing to heaven above.
Lord, help me to serve you and serve you alone,
Competing demands on my life stake their claim.
Amid the confusion, Lord, make your voice known.
Then help me to listen and live for your name.