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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?