Mission over Machine

    1. You and I have a mission.
    2. The machine serves the mission.
    3. You and I do not serve the machine.

Those 3 statements might seem obvious to you. On paper they are obvious to all of us. However over time the systems, processes and machines we build to facilitate our mission can subtly take over.

It rarely happens intentionally. We start by having a highly valuable mission – something worth giving your time and energy towards. Over time the scope of our valuable work requires something to be engineered to help us continue to grow and improve. Think Henry Ford and the assembly line.

The danger for you and I is when we become particularly fond of the engineering that has taken place. We fall in love with the method or model and confuse it as being the most important piece of the puzzle.

Personally I have to pay the most attention to this when it comes to working with volunteers and serving guests. When your mission allows you to serve large groups of people you spend time focusing on the processes, numbers and activity which make it all possible. 

These things are extremely important. They are not the end goal.

    • The goal is to serve people well, the processes help us serve people well
    • The goal is stories of impact, and the numbers point to an individual with a story
    • The goal is better lives, the activity, good work and effort help transform us so we can have a better life.

You and I have to make sure our attention always stays on mission, not the machine.


A little over a year ago I transitioned from the truck I had been driving to an SUV. I liked the truck. It was fully paid for, easy to maintain and was fine for me. The problem was it didn’t have space for me to drive my girls around. 

The truck was a simple machine that allows me to get places and be present with people and moments that matter most. The truck was just a tool. Let’s say I told you I wont be able to take my girls out and spend time with them because of the truck. That would be crazy right? 

The truck isn’t the goal – spending meaningful time with my girls is the goal. Because they are the goal, I made a major change to the machine (the truck) I used in order to make my mission (spending time with them) more possible.


You have a machine that serves your mission. You have systems to tend to, numbers to track and activity to manage. These things help your mission go farther, faster. Over time these things can subtly become more important to you than the mission itself. 

Focus on the mission God has given you and allow the machine to either serve that mission or change/adapt around the mission.

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