Thursday, September 17, 2009

Begin with the End in Mind Part II

This topic is so important that I want to park here and talk about it just a little more. I hope each of you will indulge me. But more than that, I hope you will realize how critical this topic is to innovation.

If you do not have an end identified when you go out and seek to innovate, then you will not be doing your cause any favors. Now I know many people are thinking - what about those innovators that just tinkered around until one day they invented Post-it Notes (that is the famous one from 3M).

Let me make a distinction. If you are a scientist looking to further your field then that is your end. At that point you might not have a specific cause you are focused on - instead you are wanting to see knowledge increased and new ideas/resources be brought to market. That may look like meandering but most of those people did have an end in mind.

In the case of this blog and of innovation within mission, we have "ends" that are a bit more focused. For some of you it is church planting in Africa. For others it is Internet evangelism, and still others it is new discipleship tools. Whatever the cause that God has put you on, beginning with the end in mind is critical to innovating for the Kingdom.

Let me share a few things that you are more able to do when you begin with the end in mind:
  1. Identify the key players: If you know where you are going, it is easier to identify the key individuals that you need to build relationships with, network with and partner with.
  2. Stay focused: By defining what you believe God wants you to be reaching for, you can avoid the many other "nice but not necessary" things that will pop up all around you. We all know brilliant people who can't focus on their main objective and keep getting taken down side paths to the detriment of their main project.
  3. Spot Opportunities: When you have a clear goal in mind, the "windows of opportunity" that God brings along will be very evident to you. They will jump off the page and you will be ready to engage with the opportunity that God puts in front of you. Many other people who do not have a clear focus let these opportunities pass by just because they are not sharp and focused.
  4. Learn Strategically: With focus comes intentionality. When you are focused you then look for the things you need to learn and grow in so that you can better accomplish your goal.
  5. Be Spiritually Alert: Those who are intentional about mission innovation will be spiritually alert. You will be praying about the thing God has put on your heart. You will know what sacrifices He is asking you to make. You will also be more aware of changes in the direction that God has you going. You will be able to flex and modify your focus based on how God changes the ends He has given you.

I hope this is an encouragement in the disciplines of focus, intentionality, and learning. Now here is the question: What End has God put on your heart that He would have you be focused in achieving for Him?


Anonymous said...

Hey Jon, thanks for your latest entry. So much that you mentioned is so true! I have one question about your first point. You mention that you need to saddle up with people to help reach the destination you desire. It sounds so "political" to me. As I think about it, is there anyway to stay clear of politics, and still achieve the ends you think the Lord desire you to achieve. For me, the thought of "kissing butt" to get where I sense God is leading grates against what I stand for. jlee

Anonymous said...

All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered to you;the rams of Nebaioth shall minister to you; they shall come up with acceptance on my altar, and I will beautify my beautiful house.
Isaiah 60:7

This is the verse that the Lord has burned on my mind. Nebaioth and Kedar are sons of Ishmael. My end is to bring these people back into the story so that the Lord's house may be beautfied.


Chinzorig said...

I feel like my end picture will be changing every year as the vision gets clearer and clearer. God doesn't show to me everything in store. So, may be I'll be syncronizing with God as I go.

Anonymous said...

Actually, to do effective change, you have to identify at what point you are going to "freeze" the change as the new status quo. Otherwise, change will move out of control. Another reason for looking at the end first.

Dave Wilson

Jon and Mindy Hirst said...

Dear Anonymous 1:

Thanks for your question about connecting with others. You are right that it can become very political. The key is motivation. When you look for those to connect with, don't just look for those who are politically helpful. Look for people who really get it and who are willing to stick with you when the politics shifts and you loose favor - which will happen at some point for sure.

Where you start is by asking God to bring people to you and connect you with people who you are passionate about serving with.

Jon and Mindy Hirst said...


Thanks for sharing the verse and your heart. That is a great way to define your "ends" and I know that God is bringing people around you who have that same vision and passion!

Jon and Mindy Hirst said...


You are right - we can't see the end completely. We have to trust God. But we need to start somewhere. God will give you enough of the picture so that you can fix your eyes on what He has called you to. Remember to pray for clarity not certainty!

Jon and Mindy Hirst said...


Great point. At some point your change becomes the new normal. That is ok - in fact that means you have created something that is sustaining. But leave that with a "maintainer/manager" and move on to the next innovation God has for you.