Why A One-Sentence Mission Statement Doesn’t Work

Mark Furlong
3 min readJan 22, 2021

What To Do Instead

Photo by Steve Halama on Unsplash

Trying to come up with a one-sentence mission statement for your life is often more hurtful than helpful.

One-Sentence: Sound Good

Some really big-name people in the personal development, leadership space teach professionals to come up with a one-sentence mission statement.

It sounds good. It is often good for businesses and organizations. HOWEVER, in my experience working with hundreds of individuals, trying to come up with a one-sentence mission statement has not been helpful.

Here’s why:
1. It’s Really, Really Hard. Most professionals (and I mean over 90%) have trouble narrowing down the essence of their entire life to one sentence. Trying to come up with the exact right words, words that are meant to guide a person’s entire life, is really, really hard.

For most people, trying to do so is more paralyzing than liberating. And it’s not even necessary to live a focused, on-target with God’s purposes life. I can’t even begin to tell you how many smart people have worked and worked and worked on this one-sentence exercise and NEVER come up with something they feel fits them and energizes them.

When I first started, I used to take people through the steps to get there and it so rarely worked that I finally dropped it and came up with a different approach.

2. Purposes Change. I used to think God had one big purpose, one big mission for our lives and that and only that is what we are to focus on.

Eventually, through more Bible study and experience, I have come to believe God’s Big Purposes for our lives are SEASONAL in many, many cases.

Yes, there are a few who are called by God to do one thing their entire lives, but those are exceptions, not the rule.

Look at Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Gideon, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Peter, James, John, and Paul.

All of them did different things at different seasons in their lives. Even Jesus had two very different career callings in his short life on earth.

That’s one of the big reasons, when I work with people on their God-given purpose, we take time to zero in on what God wants them to do during this season of life. Not the rest of their life: this main season.

And I don’t require them to come up with one forced, one-sentence
to guide their entire life. I’ve found coming up with a purpose-paragraph
to be much easier, liberating, and empowering, while still giving needed direction and focus.

A Purpose Page

Jesus Himself used several different statements to provide focus for Himself and to let others know what He was about.

He said things like, “I have come so they might have life and have it abundantly.”

“I came to seek and to save the lost.”

“The Spirit of the Lord is on Me to preach, teach, heal, set free.”

“The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and lay His life down for many.”

The Apostle Paul also used several different types of purpose describing sentences to provide focus and let others know what he was called to do.

He described himself as an apostle, teacher, father in the faith, builder, evangelist, witness, servant and more.

Jesus and Paul both lived pretty on-target, productive lives I’d say without a one-sentence mission statement.

I’ve seen people get much more energized and focused by narrowing down who they are and what they’re called to do on a one-page purpose page.

It gives them plenty of focus so they can say “yes” to what lines up with God’s calling on their lives and “no” to what doesn’t.

It is energizing because it gives a fuller picture of who they are and what they’re called to do.

And it gets them taking action much faster because they’re not struggling to find the perfect few words to describe their entire life-focus.

If learning how to do that is of interest to you, take a look at the resources and programs at www.MarkFurlongCoaching.com

Mark Furlong

Author, Coach Helping busy, active people know and live ALL of God’s purposes for their life: the COMPLETE life. www.TruVineMission.com,