12 Keys Of Discipleship, Part 9

2009-5-18 08:22:00

Keys Of Discipleship -- Key Seven

Find Your Mission

The disciple must have a mission. Why?

Without a mission the seeker's energies will be scattered and however good are his intentions he will not accomplish much. A mission is a work to do in a focussed area and when thought is directed away from everything to a pin-pointed objective miracles of achievement can be accomplished.

A great example of what can be done with a mission is the space program. When the race for space started the United States just ambled along with no clear objective. Their energies were further scattered with the Army and Navy competing against each other for research and development funds.

The Soviets, on the other hand, had a clear sense of mission which was to be the first in space. They knew if they could accomplish this they would score a major public relations victory.

Then, sure enough, in 1957 they launched the first satellite in orbit and startled the world. This woke us up to our own sense of mission and finally Kennedy sealed the deal by making a specific mission goal to put a man on the moon before 1970.

Finally, we had a specific mission and worked toward it, Then two tragedies happened making many wonder if the mission could be accomplished. First, JFK [John F. Kennedy] was assassinated and, secondly, three astronauts were killed by a fire inside their capsule.

Many began to wonder if the mission was just a fanciful dream. But instead of treating the drawbacks as failure they saw them as sacrifices that must bear fruit and the work continued. Finally, on July 20, 1969, the first man set foot on the surface of the moon.

The world was amazed and even now, 40 years later, it is such a fantastic feat that many people on the planet do not believe it happened.

The mission was accomplished. What was next? Were we going to Mars, build a base on the moon or what? For the next 40 years there were few specific goals and nothing much very specific happened. Bush 43 kind of set a goal to go to Mars and return to the moon but no one got excited and many didn't want to spend any additional money.

Unless someone sets a far-reaching goal for space governments may just dabble in it for another 40 years, or until private enterprise decides to be the ones to set the new mission -- as they have with computers.

Without a mission, even the best of intentions and great knowledge will accomplish little.

How does he find out what the mission is?

Let me tell my own story here. I had a sense of mission from my earliest memories. I knew I had something to do, but didn't know what it was. When I was around 6 I went to a movie and the main character said he was a scientist. I had no idea what a scientist was but felt that had something to do with my mission. When I got home I asked my mother what a scientist was. After she explained I announced to her that was what I was going to be.

She then told me there were many different kinds of scientists. I needed to figure out which kind I wanted to be. Over the next couple years I thought about it and decided that I wanted to be an astronomer. I was especially interested in the moon and 9 planets and learned everything I could about them. I was fascinated in looking over pictures of them and dreaming about what the future would reveal about them.

Then my uncle bought me a sizable telescope and I was in hog heaven exploring the celestial bodies but also made the neighbors a little nervous for fear I may be spying on them. Some of them seemed to think a telescope could see through walls.

One thing bothered me about astronomy and that was, even though I found it fascinating, there was not much chance of making significant change by looking through telescopes and mapping the heavens. I began to wonder if my mission was not something else. I asked myself this question.

What can I do that would accomplish the highest good for the world?

About the time I was pondering this I began to get interested in making homemade rockets. I had a great time doing this and began setting new rockets off almost daily. Then at the age of 13, on the evening of December 26, 1958 and friend and I were putting the finishing touches on a rocket in our kitchen. As I was working on it, it exploded and sent me to the hospital for a month. My friend was also injured but not nearly as bad.

As I was recovering in the hospital a friend brought me a book on rockets and space flight. It was the first book that I had ever read from cover to cover. After I finished it I thought about my mission along these lines: I could perform a much greater service to mankind by building rockets and exploring new worlds than by just looking at them as an astronomer. Then, at that moment I decided I was going to be an astronautical engineer and build rockets to explore the planets. From that point on I developed a love of exploratory reading and studied everything available about rockets and space flight.

Then, about the age of 16 I developed an interest in writing, but still stuck to my goal of becoming an engineer. My interest in writing increased until I started my freshman year at the University of Idaho. I entered the college of engineering majoring in mechanical engineering. I dreamed of going to Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but that was not to be.

At the end of my first semester something happened that shattered my mission. I received my first failing grades in my life and it was in my two greatest loves. The first was mechanical drawing -- a key course for any engineer. Even though I loved rocket science and the end results of engineering I found I didn't have much love for the nuts and bolts. Just learning the basics like precise lettering was painful for me.

The second class I failed was English. In high school I always did okay in English, but the teacher of this class was a strange guy that seemed to take a dislike to me.

When I saw my two "F's" I was devastated. Maybe I just wasn't intelligent enough to be an engineer or a writer. Maybe my sense of mission was just a dream. What was I to do with my life, I wondered.

To be continued...


"The past is finished. There is nothing to be gained by going over it. Whatever it gave us in the experiences it brought us was something we had to know."
  -- Rebecca Beard