Kathi and her very missionally focused friend, Michele Cushatt come to you from Writing at the Red House where they are helping writers tell their hard story. Today, Kathi and Michele help you to be proactive about getting funnel focused on your overall mission and ministry. To accomplish this they will take you through a valuable exercise of how to create your inspired life mission statement and help you narrow in on:
- What you are offering
- Who are you offering it to
- Why you want to accomplish this
Links and Resources:
Click HERE for your downloadable mission exercise from Michele.
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Transcript of this Episode
Read along with the Podcast!
Communicator Academy Podcast # 191
Creating a Mission Focus
Kathi – Well, hey friends. Welcome to Communicator Academy, where our heart is to help men and women become the communicators God created them to be. With me today is my very missional-y focused friend, Michele Cushatt. Hey, Michele.
Michele – I knew. I was thinking, “I bet I can predict what she’ll say.”
Kathi – We are focused today.
Michele – We are totally focused.
Kathi – There is no chitchat today.
Michele – None. We are on task. Don’t get in my way.
Kathi – Yeah, because that’s how we roll. So, we are here at The Red House. We are here with some alumni. It’s very exciting to me that people want to come back.
Michele – Yeah, and not just one or two. Almost all of them came back.
Kathi – Yeah, we had somebody who got sick, sadly. She’s not able to be here. Then, somebody else who, rudely, is having a granddaughter.
Michele – Well, technically, she is not having the granddaughter.
Kathi – This is true.
Michele – The powers that be are having the granddaughter.
Kathi – I think it’s a granddaughter. Oh no. Linda, I’m sorry. Grandchild. I know it’s a child, so we can be safe with that.
Michele – So they didn’t come for very valid reasons, but everybody else is here.
Kathi – Then we filled up the last two spots and had a waiting list, so that was super fun.
Michele – I know! It was amazing.
Kathi – It was very cool. So, what we’re doing with this crowd is a little different than what we did the first time. The first time was all writing focused. Writing. Writing. Writing. You were talking more, for people who were coming to this Hard Story Retreat, about their overall mission and ministry. So, yesterday we went through an exercise that was really valuable. It’s not just for your overall ministry, but it’s how to tell your hard story, too. So, I want to talk about this. We’re talking about mission statements. I know we talked about mission statements here, before, but you did an exercise yesterday that I thought was so valuable. I thought, “Wow. If we can share that with our listeners, it could save our people a lot of grief in trying to figure out ‘What do I want to do when I grow up? What am I doing?’” So, can you walk us through it? Guys, here’s the beautiful thing. Michele has already said that she will give you the download, so you go over to the show notes. Leave us a comment, ‘cause we always love to know how this has impacted you, but you’ll be able to download that mission statement worksheet, for you to be able to use on your own.
Michele – Absolutely. The reason this matters is, many times we end up writing from a gut level ‘What do I feel like writing about today?’ For those of us with hard stories, we always tend to go back to the same very painful things. However, what we need to do is come up with an overall sense of ‘This is what I’m all about. This is what I’m trying to accomplish. This is who I’m trying to reach.’ That becomes the driving force through which we funnel opportunities and we funnel writing projects and we funnel everything else. Otherwise, we end up being very emotionally reactive, and that’s what our writing becomes. We want to be more proactive than reactive.
Kathi – Right. It’s so interesting, ‘cause I’ve been talking to, not just this week, but over the past few weeks, with people who have big, hard stories, but you don’t want to be defined by that for the rest of your life. One of my best friends growing up, now she’s doing so much ministry, Cathy Powers, who lost her son who was part of the military. She says, “I’m done being the mom of a dead soldier.” She said, “Here’s the thing. He will always be the most important thing, but I’m healing now, and I need people to see that they can recover from grief and loss.” To me, that’s so exciting. You can only stay in that pit for so long without offering people, and yourself, hope. What is your overall mission in ministry?
Michele – That’s where I’m kind of finding myself, too. We shared this on a different episode, but I’m now five years out of the acute phase of my health crisis, and at some point, I can’t just keep talking about almost dying. There has to be more. Not that that’s not important, and not that isn’t a piece of my story, but there needs to be something bigger than just that pinpoint on the map of my story.
Kathi – Your mission is bigger than that moment.
Michele – That moment. Trying to come up with that mission statement. Who am I? What am I about? What am I offering? Who am I offering to? Why? That’s what we eventually, as we’re putting together this mission statement…by the way, I call it The Inspired Life Mission Statement. I led a mastermind of Christian women in business for about two and a half years. At the beginning of this paid mastermind, I had every member come up with their Inspired Life Mission Statement, because it then became the umbrella that helped them focus the rest of their year. Their goals, their projects, their opportunities, everything else. So, that’s what we’re walking through today. How do we come up with that Inspired Life Mission Statement? What is it and how do we come up with it? So, to answer the first question: What is that mission statement? Very simply, three parts. It’s what you’re offering? Who you’re offering it for? And why?
Kathi – What are you offering? Let’s talk about ‘What are you offering?’ What do you mean by that?
Michele – Okay, so my mission statement, over the last few years, I’ll tell you. What I was offering was a safe space to have honest conversations about the tensions between real faith and real life. I was talking about finding God in places of pain. Faith and suffering. That’s been the sum total of what I was offering was this space to have honest, unproduced, un-overly spiritualized conversations about faith and suffering. There’s not many places where we can go and talk about our doubts and our questions about God and pain. So that’s what I wanted to do. That’s what I’m offering, a safe space to have those conversations. Who I was offering it for? For people, believers and seekers, who had questions and doubts; who were in places of pain that had questions. That’s who I was offering it for. This is what I’m offering. That’s who I’m offering it to. Why? My purpose, my ‘why’ is what I hope to accomplish. If I created these safe places for people who had questions and doubts, my goal was that they would get to a place where they could embrace both their own imperfect life, their difficult life and faith, and a God that they couldn’t always understand, and enjoy the life they’ve been given.
Kathi – So, we did this yesterday. You took one of our attendees through this process. Here’s what I know. This is very personal. It’s a very hard process.
Michele – Hard and time consuming. It’s not going to be something you’ll get done in fifteen minutes, or even an hour.
Kathi – Right. So how do you start to dig into this? These are great questions. What am I offering? Who am I offering it for? Why? How do you not be overwhelmed by those questions?
Michele – Well, there’s a very simple process and I do this all the time for people I coach with, people I chat with. First of all, I want you to get out a piece of paper and make two columns.
Kathi – Just a plain piece of paper?
Michele – Just a plain piece of paper with two columns.
Kathi – Okay, and what do I do with that?
Michele – On the left column, I want you to list what I’m calling Your Assets. Some of this I got from Ken Davis and his Launch Conference, so I want to give credit where credit is due. Nothing we’re talking about here is new under the sun. This has been invented and reinvented and reproduced in multiple formats. This is pretty basic stuff, but you want to make a list of what I’m calling Your Assets. Your strengths. Your skills. Your experience. Your assets are anything that makes you uniquely you. I can be degrees you have, talents you have, skills, experiences, credentials. I could be hobbies, things that you love. So, for me, for examples are, I have a bachelor’s degree in nursing. I happen to be an RN, a BSN, some other things. I’ve played the piano since I was seven. I am a pianist. I was a piano teacher. I am a voracious reader. That’s one of my skills. I read constantly. I read new things all the time. I can go on and on. See, just make a massive list and don’t edit anything. Make a list. I think everybody should be able to come up with at least thirty different things.
Kathi – I would put on there, dog lover.
Michele – I put on there, ‘chocolate chip cookie maker’. I make the best chocolate chip cookies.
Kathi – You really do, and they’re gluten free, which is crazy.
Michele – I put that in my assets because that is something that is uniquely me.
Kathi – So, really think through some of those weird and wild things that make you uniquely you. You and I are both Christian authors and speakers, but our list, except for dogs and cheese lovers.
Michele – Cheese. ‘Cause I believe in Cheesus.
Kathi – I believe in Cheesus. We’re vastly different, but that’s what makes our unique and wild ministries so beautiful, and why the people that we minister to probably have a 20% crossover, but not 100% crossover. That’s okay. That’s a beautiful thing. So to understand the assets you have, the things that light you up, the things that make you sing. Oh, the other thing we have in common? Mountain lovers.
Michele – Yes! Yes, definitely. Coffee.
Kathi – Coffee. That’s right. We have more in common than we know. The thing that is so interesting about that? Yesterday, you were helping one of our workshop participants go through it. You saw ‘gardening’ on there. She’s a voracious gardener, but she has a history with gardening in a relationship that she struggles with. It’s like, “Oh! Isn’t that interesting?”
Michele – But the thing was, she wasn’t picking up on it, ‘cause it had been such a normal part of her life for so long.
Kathi – It’s her whole life.
Michele – Writing it down on a piece of paper, you start to see threads. The point of this is, God doesn’t waste anything, so I want you to look at even the parts of your story that are bad.
Kathi – I was just going to ask you.
Michele – Let’s say you have an experience with a step-parent.
Kathi – Which is not always bad.
Michele – Not always bad.
Kathi – Right Amanda and Jeremy? Sometimes step-parents are wonderful, Justin and Kimberley.
Michele – Yes. Exactly. Thinking through parts of your story that make you uniquely you, and including all of it, both the positive, like the skills and talents you have, but also the hard experiences. They’re all assets, and seeing them that way.
Kathi – Yeah. Your cancer, while the most devastating thing, pretty much, in your life, is also an asset.
Michele – It totally is an asset.
Kathi – We talked about this yesterday. When you find out somebody is going through cancer, I’m still in the stage where I don’t want to say the wrong thing, but you can go right to the heart of it. I know you’ve been different weights throughout your life, but when somebody is struggling with identity issues with weight, I get it.
Michele – And you know what to say.
Kathi – I know what not to say.
Michele – I’ve put my foot in my mouth more than once. Kathi would know.
Kathi – But thank God! Thank God that I can say, “You know what? You need to go read Relentless. I know clutter is your issue, but I think this is what you need.” And vice versa. It’s so interesting. We were talking about comparison this morning, and how easy it is to compare. When you see that assets list of somebody else, how much you might wish you had something on that list. It’s a waste of time. God has given you, uniquely, what He has given you, to serve the people that need to be served. Okay, so that’s on the left side of the column.
Michele – That’s your assets. Don’t edit. Don’t discount. Don’t deprecate. I want you guys, when you make this list of assets, to throw everything on there. This is for you. Everything. So then you take a break from that. You move to the right column. The right column is, as you are walking through life, what you see as the world’s biggest needs right now. What I don’t want you to do is say, “Peace, love, and harmony.” Don’t be generic. As you walk through your life, the things that you, personally, see as the world’s biggest needs right now. Make a massive list of that, too. Everything you can possibly think of.
Kathi – Okay, give me some examples of that.
Michele – I’m sitting here thinking, with you and clutter, right now, there are so many storage companies.
Kathi – Oh my, goodness. There are more storage unit facilities than there are MacDonald’s and Starbucks combined.
Michele – Okay. Right there. We need to do something with that. We have an issue. We have a problem.
Kathi – We have a heart issue, when it comes to physical stuff.
Michele – But see, you’re going to see that world need more quickly than I will. So that’s why it’s so important, when you’re doing this exercise, you’re not outsourcing this to somebody else to fill out that right column. You’re doing it yourself. What are the needs that you see? Day in, day out, these are what the world needs most right now. What happens is, we tend to have eyes for things that God has uniquely wired us up to pay attention to.
Kathi – It was interesting. I use this illustration all the time. When I was buying a minivan, somebody said, “You should buy a Toyota Sienna.” I’m like, “I’ve never even seen a Toyota Sienna. What are you talking about?” They said, “It’s the most popular now on the road.” So, when I went to Toyota, I saw it, and I thought, “Oh, this is good.” I drove it home that day and my drive home was about five miles. I saw six Sienna minivans. It’s like, when you’re wired to look for something, you see it. You’re going to see somebody sitting by themselves hurting, and you’re going to zero in on, “Oh, there’s something not right there.” faster than I would. That’s why I’m not ministering to those people, because I don’t see the need, but when I see the need, when somebody says, “I can’t open my front door.” I know the first steps to help them. So, on the piece of paper, on the left side are your assets, your gifts, your hurts that built you, that kind of thing. Then, on the right, what do you see as the world’s biggest needs?
Michele – Make a list. Everything you see, the things you pay attention to. Then, maybe carry the list around for a few days and when you’re watching TV or reading books, things come to mind. Make a list. Then what I want you to do, probably in a separate section, is to sit down and look at those two columns and I want you to circle the three on each side that get you the most fired up; that get you the most passionate, that you’re the most excited about, that intrigue you the most.
Kathi – So, yesterday, you asked that question. “What are the things that fire you up the most?” and one of our attendees said…
Michele – She said, “Well, my husband would say this.” Or “My friends or my kids would say this.” And I said, “That’s not what I asked you. What do you get most fired up about?” This whole exercise with Your Inspired Life Mission Statement, you need to do the work of digging into your own heart and soul. You can check in with people, after you’ve done the work, and say, “Hey, does this seem to fit?” but what happens is, we too much rely on what gets other people excited, and we’re not checking in with ourselves. So, you can’t outsource that. What really, truly, gets you fired up and passionate? On your assets: What side do you really love? This one particular woman, it was gardening. That was the first thing she said. Gardening and her family. I love that. And we circled them. We circled those two. Then, on the other side, the world’s needs. That was harder for her. We have such a ridiculous editor in our head. It tells us, “You should be passionate about this.” I want you to ignore all the shoulds. What do you really get excited about? Then, finally, it took forever, she’s like, “Families in crisis.” So, we circled that. Families in crisis. What the world needs now is help for families that are disintegrating, falling apart, breaking up. Families in crisis. Then I said, “What we need to do now is find connecting points between your assets, the ones you’re most passionate about, and what the world needs. That might be your mission statement. Maybe not, but maybe. That’s maybe what you’re doing. That’s what you’re offering. This is the needs you’re trying to meet and the people you’re trying to connect with, and here’s why.
Kathi – Okay, so I just want to recap this for our listeners. So, what you are trying to dig out from all of this, that we’ve talked about, for your mission statement, is one: what are you offering? Two: Who am I offering it for? Three: Why? So, what Michele suggest is, take a piece of paper, create a column, put a line right down the middle. One the left hand side are your assets, your experiences, your gifts, your degrees, anything that you may have that can contribute. You may not even think it can contribute, but write it down. Then, write what you see as the world’s biggest needs. Her suggestions is to carry that piece of paper around. Circle the things that you are most passionate about.
Michele – What’s so interesting about the world’s needs, if you and I were sitting and watching the nightly news, we would have different things that would get us fired up. That’s what I want you to pay attention to.
Kathi – It’s so interesting. Roger and I watch the news, and I see a story coming on about the environment, and I can see Roger start to shake. It’s so interesting, because I care about the environment, but he’s got a passion for it. It’s different. It’s so interesting. When we are asked to serve in different capacities, and we’re asked to serve, maybe, for this homeless shelter, or for a women’s shelter, or kids in ministry. We can know that there are needs everywhere, but we can only have a burden in a couple of things.
Michele – And not having a burden on something does not mean you’re failing. My husband and I have talked about this numerous times, and I’m finally getting this. He is very passionate about parenting grade school kids. He loves that coachable age, all of that. I love having conversations, really hard conversations, in depth conversations, with my adult children. Does this mean I don’t care about my younger children? Or that he doesn’t care about the older children? No. We both have different skillsets and different passions, and paying attention to that and allowing ourselves to leverage those gifts is just honoring the way God’s wired us up and equipped us.
Kathi – I love it. So, guys, we want you to go download this mission statement worksheet. The Inspired Life Mission Statement Worksheet. So, go download it, work it out, and we would love to hear it. We want to honor your hard work. This stuff is really tough. Michele, thank you for all this great information.
Michele – My pleasure. I can’t wait to see how entire ministries are birthed from this start. So, thank you, friends, so much for listening and hanging out with us today. You’ve been listening to Communicator Academy. I’m Michele Cushatt.
Kathi – And I’m Kathi Lipp.
Michele – You’ve been given the best message in the world. No, go live it.
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