Creating A Mission Everyone Can Join Into
Can I start with a confession? I’m a little cynical when it comes to mission statements … maybe more than a little. For example, can you guess what company has this mission statement?
We are committed to proactively leverage user-centric solutions and globally orchestrate world-class resources to stay relevant in tomorrow’s world.
Give up? It was actually created by the Mission Statement Generator, which is an online tool that simply recombines nouns, verbs, and adjectives to construct prototypical mission statements that are amusingly stuffed with corporate-speak. Admit it … for just a moment you thought it was real.
The truth is most corporate mission statements aren’t great. Executives spend an exorbitant amount of time crafting a terse statement that will go on letterheads and painted on a wall … and ignored.
But the words of our original mission statement plastered on the walls in our conference room was largely what attracted me during my first interview at Betenbough Homes. Although nobody spoke about it during the interview, as I read these words it was clear that something was different in this place:
To best use our resources to promote the Kingdom of God.
The first thing you’ll notice is that it is starkly different from most corporate mission statements. It certainly clarifies why we do what we do and what fundamentally drives our decisions. It was a powerful statement to me. So much so, that I went home and canceled all the rest of the interviews I had lined up, which was very out of character for me. Although I knew almost nothing about the company, those words sparked something powerful inside of me that couldn’t be denied. Luckily, they offered me the job a few days later!
A Different Mission Field
But that isn’t our mission statement. You see, we don’t just hire Christian people. So although some of us could enthusiastically rally behind such a mission statement, we couldn’t unite the entire company behind it, nor was it something we could hold everyone accountable to. While we are fully committed to taking a bold stance in the marketplace, we never want to force faith on anyone. So like most mission statements, this one remained something fuzzy and up in the clouds for most people. It was something that was hung on a wall somewhere, but most employees couldn’t verbalize how it related to anything they did.
While there are a lot of things in common between our organization and a church, there are some significant differences as well. We’ve come to recognize that our unique platform of business provides a slightly different mission field than what churches may encounter. While we never like labeling people, the diagram below generalizes the different groups of people typical churches minister to compared to those a business encounters.
Churches often focus on turning seekers into believers, and Sunday morning believers into full-fledged followers whose faith penetrates their daily lives. Then they just try to keep those followers fired up and engaged. In a business, you have those same groups and we often try to bring them along a similar journey. But there is one more group in a business that is especially important, and that’s the group who isn’t currently seeking. They may not have a faith element to their story, and may never step foot in a church. In our business, we’re able to interact with hundreds of people like that daily, including subcontractors, lenders, suppliers, business partners, and even fellow employees. We see each of those interactions as a unique, God-given opportunity. Because we are around people every day and develop relationships with them over time, our witness can be powerful!
But since the people we’re trying to minister to are different than a church, how we minister has to look different too. What we’ve found over the years is it’s easy to get into “church mode” and get so focused on ministering to the three groups that you risk alienating the non-seekers and squandering that unique, God-given opportunity. We’ve learned to be sensitive to the fact that there are non-believers among us, and constantly ensure we aren’t alienating them.
Jesus never alienated the people that came to check out what He was doing. While He never watered down the message, He was always intentional about what He said, when He said it, and how He said it. When He was talking to his closest disciples, He might say something differently than when he was among the Pharisees or Gentiles. He had a masterful way of framing his words in a way that people could hear them. Don’t get me wrong, Jesus didn’t avoid conflict, but at the same time He cared so deeply for the people he was interacting with that He was very strategic and intentional in His approach.
Mission VS. Purpose
Through this journey, we came to realize there is a distinct difference between the purpose and mission of an organization. A mission statement defines WHAT a company intends to do, while a purpose statement clarifies WHY they are doing it. We think this is critical to understand, because it is very difficult to rally people behind purpose. Motives are formed by journey, beliefs, etc. It would certainly block the growth of an organization if it continually waited for everyone to have unified purpose. We believe that it is much easier to join in a mission, uniting around a single task while allowing team members to have differing reasons.
So we developed a mission statement and a separate purpose statement (see Lead with Mission, Live with Purpose). Hang with me! Before you check out because of all the corporate jargon, let me explain. The leadership at our company is convinced that our purpose has been made clear, and we unashamedly stand on this as the reason Betenbough Homes is in existence today:
Purpose: To glorify God by being faithful stewards of all that is entrusted to us.
This explains the why behind what we do, and it’s not too different from the original mission statement that hooked me. We don’t require all who come here to adopt this purpose, but we also aren’t ashamed to admit this is what guides the decisions among our senior leadership. Our heart is to take whatever gifts we’ve been entrusted with (time, talent, treasure, influence) and strategically use those for Kingdom purpose. For deeper exploration into our corporate purpose, click here.
At the same time, our desire is to accept people just as they are, as long as they are willing to whole-heartedly join in our culture and mission. Rather than craft a complicated and wordy mission statement, we summarize our mission in three words:
Mission: Build. Serve. Impact.
Feeling a little lost? Let me try to unpack this. Remember, the mission statement defines WHAT a company intends to do (not why they do it). We wanted it to be something that we could all unite behind and hold each other accountable to. It needed to be something that each employee could relate to their job, instead of just being something fuzzy they couldn’t apply. When a mission statement only has three words, each one has to carry a lot of weight – so let’s dive into each a little deeper:
We are builders. That’s what we do. God has given us a passion to gather resources, add some vision and organization, sprinkle in some diligence and hard work, and create something that didn’t exist before. We are explorers … at times even pioneers as we often venture into uncharted territory. Creating something new requires faith and courage, and we believe that God has blessed us with both. Whether it is building the homes that we sell, the culture in which we operate, or the vast relationships we enjoy along the way, we commit to striving for excellence in whatever we put our hands to. This is exhibited in the homes and communities we build, as we endeavor to deliver uncompromising style to families at prices that promote healthy homeownership.
Throughout the process of building, we cross paths with many people in the marketplace. From fellow employees, to trade partners, to home buyers, to vendors and suppliers, we have been granted opportunities to touch thousands of lives! Our intent is to never take this for granted, but to be faithful stewards of every opportunity. Our aim is for all we come into contact with to have a POSITIVE AND FULFILLING EXPERIENCE. Too often, the norm in business is to use people in order to accomplish a self-centered goal. At Betenbough Homes, we commit to treat others as we would want to be treated, attempting to put their needs and interests ahead of our own. We pray that others will feel blessed because of their relationship with our company.
As earth’s population tops 7 billion, most of us increasingly long for our lives to have meaning and significance. We desire to make a difference in this world where the needs of humanity are more vast and visible than ever before. Beyond pursuing fame and fortune, it is common for those of this generation to long to be “part of something bigger than themselves.” The pursuit of provision just doesn’t seem to be enough anymore. To find a life of purpose, we cannot overlook how we spend our days in the marketplace. A life where purpose is only lived out in the margins will logically be only marginally purposeful. Betenbough Homes is a collection of individuals who have united around a belief that we can spend our days in the marketplace with passion and purpose, having a significant and lasting impact in the world.
The bottom line is that as we are walking out a mission that we can all unite behind, regardless of where someone is at on their faith journey. I always tell job candidates and new employees, if you can’t take a servant posture you probably won’t fit in here long-term. That means if you’re a superintendent in the field, you should look to serve the subcontractors you’re directing. If you’re a manager, you should look to serve and grow those on your team. It’s about a humble servant posture more than anything, and that’s something we can hold each person accountable to. While none of us are perfect and we extend much grace, we take this aspect very seriously. You must humble yourself and look to serve others around you to work here. That is the heart of our mission, and the glue that holds the other parts together:
Build. Serve. Impact.