Your Message Is Not Your Mission

I had a dream last night that I was playing the piano out in my field. The song was “Be Still My Soul” and before long, I could hear people singing along from a distance up the hill. Then someone called out, “Play Amazing Grace.” The only sheet music I had for it was a piano solo that wasn’t optimal for singing along. So I started picking it out on the black notes like the old African spirituals. I pounded it out, missing some notes, but the people kept coming and singing along.

After I finished playing I walked up the hill and a group of people had gathered in my sister’s driveway. I counted about 30. Then I realized I should teach them something, so I went back for my scriptures which I assumed were in my backpack. When I returned there was a minister from another faith there. It seemed he knew some of the people.

I knew what I wanted to talk about … that verse that says that Christ will give us “abundantly above whatever we ask or seek.” I began thumbing through, trying to find the verse in a Bible I found lying on the table. But I couldn’t locate the verse. Then I decided to dig in my backpack for my more comprehensive set of scriptures with a topical guide. But my scripture cover was filled with a bunch of odds and ends.

I fumbled around, trying to find a Bible somewhere and knocked over a bottle of water. The more time it took, the more inept I felt. Did these people really want to hear anything I had to say? Why were they here?

By this time, the minister, independently was trying to look up the same verse in his Bible (I never said out loud what I was looking for). He was sort of scoffing at me for not being able to find a Bible verse. When I told him I was looking up the same verse, he didn’t believe me and insinuated I was copying him. I did feel rather foolish, but didn’t argue with him. When he tried to locate the verse, his Bible had a lock on that section of the Bible, and he couldn’t get to it either.

Something told me to just speak from the heart. So I stood before this little crowd of what had grown to about 40-50 people and paraphrased the scripture from memory:

Christ will give us “exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.” I then began to talk to them about how the Lord had exceeded anything I would ask or think in bringing them to me. If I had marketed and promoted, I wouldn’t have brought this many local people to come sing songs and listen to a verse or two. Yet here they were and I couldn’t recall even inviting them. Even they weren’t sure exactly why they came.

I woke from the dream and began pondering on it. I asked what the music represented.

Was it literal music? Should I play the piano and people will come?

No.

Was the music the music of my soul? Perhaps I should just be myself and people will come?

No.

Is the music my message?

Yes.

Is my message that you have a message?

Yes.

Is my message “Come unto Christ?”

No.

Really? No? That’s not my real message?

No. That is your mission!

My mission is to bring people to Christ. But my message is “you have a message.”  When I thought of my closest colleagues I realized that they each have a different message. They are all teaching or sharing a unique principle, concept or system. But every last one of them, when I get them alone, tell me that they feel their mission is to bring people to Christ.

Deliver your message and God will bring people to you to fulfill your mission.

I think, as Christians, we often get a little confused with this. We realize we want to show people the love of God. We want to bring people to Christ. We want to help people know God’s heart, and we think we should be able to generate a living from that. I had someone email me within the last few weeks asking this very question, “I want to help people know God’s love. How can I earn a living from that?”

Honestly, I don’t think you’re supposed to earn a living from that. I believe you have a talent, a gift, or a story God has given you to share with the world. You are welcome to take money in exchange for providing a product or service around it. But you don’t sell your mission.  God needs people to be reflections of His light and love in the world as they go about living their lives, pursuing careers and serving others.

Jesus said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Peter and his friends fished with nets. Your message is your net. It is what draws people to you. They may purchase your product or service. And if they are really resonating with you, they will want to know more about you and what makes you tick — just like the people in my dream sat patiently waiting for me to speak to them.

They didn’t care that I couldn’t find the exact verse. They didn’t care that I knocked over a water bottle. They wanted to hear the message of my heart. They wanted to know what was important to me. It only took a minute or two and by the time I was done, they were already asking me when they could come back again. Could they come every first Sunday of the month?

What about that other minister who had the exact same verse to share? He had the same mission — to bring people to Christ. But they weren’t there to listen to him. They were there to listen to me. Why? Because they were the ones who resonated with my message.  Other people will resonate with his.  Each of us may have the very same mission, but the “net” we use as fishers of men will be unique to each of us.

This morning, when I looked up the verse I was trying to find, I realized just how profoundly the passage speaks of God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ and what I want people to know about them —

“For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;

That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen” (Ephesians 3:14-21).

What about you? What’s your message?

26 Comments

  1. What an interesting dream, Marnie! God was definitely speaking to you. 🙂

    I struggled with profiting off of God, (always trying to figure out how to earn money while sharing the gospel at the same time) until recently. God tells us to “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:23-34

    So I am concentrating on keeping my eyes on Him knowing that everything else will fall into place according to His will. 🙂

  2. Marnie! I needed this clarification between my message and my mission. Thank you for articulating it. Funny– before reading this post I had been singing Amazing Grace all morning.(I even forgot some of the words which I usually know, but it was the music that was so strong in my heart.)

    Thank you Marnie, for being you.

  3. Marnie, all I can say is Thank You Lord for this message. I have been trying to understand what the Lord has been telling me regarding my “ministry”. God has been leading me to begin a Women’s Ministry in my home and I have been struggling with “what is so special about me that people will want to hear what I have to say?” All I know is for two years, I have this yearning to share the Love of God and a lead women to living an abundant life in Christ. A ministry of Empowerment, but I felt so “unworthy” and its not about making money for me, I just want to give away what God has so graciously given to me.

    So I thank you so much for this word! It has truly inspired me and motivated me and now I understand that God has qualified me and equipped me and all I have to do is Move in His Will….My whole perspective just changed from reading this!

    • I LOVE it, Rochelle! Do it! Whom the Lord calls, he qualifies. You have everything you need. You have HIM! Keep me posted on how it goes for you.

  4. This message has brought me much peace today. I have been trying to define my mission and how it fits with my work and I am so grateful for this separation and connection at the same time. Thank you Marnie for playing your music!!

  5. I had never thought about this subject is quite this way. You’ve really clarified the difference between the mission and the message. I especially like this:

    “I believe you have a talent, a gift, or a story God has given you to share with the world. You are welcome to take money in exchange for providing a product or service around it.”

    The mission is the underlying motivation for what you do, but the message can take any number of forms.

    • Thanks Wendy! Excellent point: “The mission is the underlying motivation for what you do, but the message can take any number of forms.”

  6. Marnie,

    Thank you once again for being a channel of blessing and a provoker of spiritual thinking to each of us.
    I think you have hit the nail right on the head when it comes to finding out exactly what God would have us be and what he would have us do with our lives. He has a perfect plan for each one of us who are his children and he is never nervous or confused about his plan. We get that way from time to time, but God is supreme and we can surely trust him.
    I believe it’s of the utmost importance to get on board with God in what He wants to do in us and through us instead of asking God to get on board with us and bless our plans. God’s great wisdom is so comforting in the midst of my appalling ignorance. I am so thankful he gives me what I need instead of what I deserve. If my dreams and my mission and my message and all that I do bring glory to God then I am heading in the right direction. The world measures success by what you are able to acquire … God has a different measuring stick … What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole and loses his own soul and what would a man give for exchange for his soul? When it comes right down to God’s bottom line, He is more interested in my character than my comfort and convenience. Whether I am rich or poor or somewhere in between, God loves me and wants me to image him in everything. Whether you eat or drink or (whatever you do)…do all to the glory of God.
    In Jesus name – I press on – Jim

    • Amen, Jim! Love it! Especially love that point about God “is never nervous or confused about his plan.” 🙂 He’s also a gazillion times more patient than I am! God bless!

  7. Marnie,

    Thanks for being faithful and sharing your dream with us. My story has been very much the same as Kelley Insana’s – Working hard trying to chase after money while all the time expecting God to bless my business, and feeling disappointed and disponded when He dosen’t – until it hit home that we are to FIRST seek God’s Kingdom and His Righteousness, and “all these things will be added”.

    Now I’ve changed my strategy, unsuscribing to all the businesses I’ve being trying with out success but which have just being cluttering up my inbox – all except yours and certain other Christian websites, and those few that I believe God leads me to keep, and now I have more time to get to know God, and His righteousness, and live the Kingdom Life!

  8. I am impressed but more than that I had just sent this message to a friend, a publisher, and then read your message. I feel I am to let you know about the message on my heart.

    I do not know the why but I know the must respond of the Spirit.

    Blessings,

    Theron

    I wrote to caleb regarding a potential meeting with him:

    Actually I had no agenda and so timing is in no way an issue. I appreciated your open approach when we first met via the writer’s conference and I would like to pick your brain regarding the current conditions in the “emergent” movement.

    I am planning to publish another book in the future but I am not ready. I am researching in the field of quantum physics and I believe that the “theoretical” side of the science is experiencing breakthroughs that will result in confirmations of Biblical and spiritual truth.

    Most conservative Christians are as fearful of new breakthroughs in the realm of science and the detection of “biophotons” that are now measured as light emitted from living cells as they are of the devil. This light is thought to come from the genetic structures including the human genome. Recently light has been used to change living cells without any “surgery” such as found in gene splicing. It is further claimed that words and music have a direct impact on cell life.

    Now I believe that the statement of Jesus, “The words (rhema) that I speak to you are spirit and they are life.” may mean that the preaching of the gospel actually effects cellular change so that the natural man does in fact become the spiritual man. This would provide a framework to understand how the words of Christ, as well as the “light” of His spirit may be scientifically tied to the “new creation” in Christ.

    I further believe that what Christ accomplished in His suffering, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension impacted all mankind and that our proclamation of the good news is not so much something that brings salvation as it is something that causes humanity to be able to receive the truth about what He has already accomplished. Faith simply appropriates what is already available to all.

    I may never write the book forming in my spirit. It does not matter so much to me as discussion with open Christians about the work of Christ. A Hindu writer wrote a book, “The Third Jesus.” Beyond the common understanding of Jesus as Savior and Lord is the ultimate understanding of Jesus as the Christ, the incarnational God. I believe that the ultimate message of Christianity is that the incarnation continues as the Spirit of Christ lives in and through us. In this way Jesus is known as Christ, Messiah, Immanuel, Way, but also as Logos, Tao, and Dharma.

    In Him the desire of all nations has come. Haggai 2:7 Christians bear this name but most do not even know why He has the name Christ. In many ways I believe that Christianity is stuck in the savior and lord level of faith and misses the ultimate level of life. He came to give life, not simply forgiveness of sin or a code of rules to be obeyed.

    I bet you have been interacting at these levels with many but I would love to hear what the Spirit is saying to you about the next Spirit move.

    So, when you can, I would love some time to hear your heart.

    Theron

    To you Marnie I also extend the invitation to communicate!

  9. I have never been one who could quote scripture from memory much less where said scripture is found. I’m not a bible scholar, but here’s what I know about sharing my faith with others… “Acts of kindness, break down walls of separation and builds bridges to salvation.” In other words, actions speak louder than words. I have found that doing acts of kindness that always opens up a door for me to share my faith.

  10. Marnie,
    I’d never thought of the distinction between one’s message and mission. Very insightful stuff!
    Makes me think of the Israelites whom God gave gifts of craftsmanship to build according to His specifications. Their mission involved bringing their talents to His mission.
    That’s what I want. My message to align with His heart. That’s where the adventure lies. I think.

  11. Interesting dream I must say, actually I don’t think it was a dream, but the Holy Spirit at work/ a devine revelation from above. Profit making should not in any way be a motive for winning souls for the Kingdom of God.
    Look at David, people came to Him when He was a fugitive, living in the caves, he had absolutely nothing (but he was actually promised wealth by the king remember?), he only had God’s mission and purpose to fulfil.
    He even realised that “… he shall not lack”, as long as “..he had God with him”, Psalm 23. And oh, we are called FREE today because of the man who sought not after money.
    Another good scripture “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, And loving favor rather than silver and gold. Proverbs 22:1”, this means money should not really cross one’s mind when it comes to doing or carrying out the work/mission of God, remember that God knows your every need hence according to Appostle Paul “He will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus, Phil 4:19”.
    The problem is, we often doubt the promises of God, or rather lack patience. What I’m simply saying is that “if it’s a God’s driven mission, you need not worry, He will make sure that His mission in YOU will be fulfilled, He knows you need money, He chose you, knowing very well that you are a man or woman with needs”.
    Actually if “IT’S YOUR MISSION” you better demolish it right now because the Bible says “Many are plans in man’s heart, but only the purpose of God about him shall prevail”. Thanks for sharing with us your dream Marnie, quite eye opening, a blessed day to you and all the brethren who are sharing here and thus edifying one another. Regards Jerry.

  12. Marnie,

    I thank God for you. Late last night I saw the email with this blog post. As I was about to begin my morning devotion today, Spirit whispered to me, “Read Marnie’s message first and then come back to me.” I said, “What?” You see, my mama trained my brother and me not to do anything before reading our bible, praying and meditating (LOL!). I now know why He told me to read your article first. God wanted me to know what my message is and that whatever service or product I offer, the people who resonate with my message will be drawn to me and this will fulfill the mission of all Christians and that is to introduce people to Christ! This fact also removes any desire or inkling to compete with anyone. In your dream, I think the other minister was present to show us that we don’t have to compete because our message (product/service) is for specific people as are other people’s messages (products/services).

    My message is that any woman who desires full-time entrepreneurship can become a full-time entrepreneur if that is truly the desire of her heart because “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think …” Jesus only healed people after asking them what they wanted him to do. We have to ask God for the true desires of our heart but first we have to know what those true desires are! Once we ask, we must believe that it is done and be committed to taking consistent action in the direction of our desire. God will send the people who need your help – the people who resonate with your message.

    Thank you Marnie for not being afraid to let your light shine before men!

    • Thanks so much for your comments Carmin. You hit the nail on the head about the desire to compete being removed. One other thing that stood out to me is that the minister in the dream was a professional — someone thoroughly trained. A lot of times we hold our messages inside us because we think we’re not experts, that we don’t have enough training, or enough letters behind our names. But there are people who want to hear your message and they don’t care about any of that!

  13. I love this post, simply because I’ve always felt a bit of guilt from not being a “full-time” worker for God. I mean I’m not a preacher, a pastor, an evangelist, a missionary — and I have no desire to be one in the near future.

    I am, on the other hand, a mother, a wife, a blogger. And for a long time I’ve wanted to be a style blogger with the intention of attracting people to my site so they can learn more about substance as well as style.

    And I was stuck for a couple of years because I felt guilty and shallow thinking why would God care about style? Am I wrong in believing this is my message? Would I actually be leading people astray.

    Last month, after a few trials with my health, I’ve decided I will be myself no matter what. And then I get this message and I now realize my net may look different from everyone else’s net, but in my heart, my mission is the same.

    Truly God is good and He loves us all. Thanks, Marnie!

    • Release that guilt, Trish. Do what you feel drawn to do, and let Christ’s light shine through you as you do. You’ll reach people a minister, evangelist or missionary would never reach!

  14. Thank u Marnie for the message,sometimes it becomes very difficult for ministers to survive especially here in Kenya because we have to cater for our bills schoolfees for our children pay house rent, buy food and sometimes the offerings we get is very little,but thank God we don”t depend on man but our trust is in God who meets our needs according to his riches in glory.phillipians 4:19 God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all what we ask or think Ephesians 3:21 and he has sustained us the way he did to Elijah

  15. thank you Marnie stay focus on God’s mission. hold on to God’s lead be grateful to hear from you all the time and know more of you

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