I used to think religious truth was handed down from up above, etched out on tablets or on scrolls, forever fixed and finished from the get-go.
But that’s – please excuse the pun – a myth. Religions seldom grow that way.
They grow in dialogue.
They swell up over months, decades, millennia of back-and-forth. Perspectives clash and fuse. The faithful talk about which version, which stories, which practices of divine truth they find most meaningful. There’s some oral transmission, word-of-mouth work-shopping, before somebody thinks to write it down.
The images and poetry and tales that make the cut? The ones we come to think of as essential to that religious tradition? They’re the ones that stood the test of (a) time and (b) people.
They’re still here because a bunch of folks found meaning in them. And keep finding meaning.
How do you explain what your company does?
Not as religion, I hope. But I hope you do explain why what you do is somehow meaningful. I hope you help your customers or donors or employees to connect with what you do on a heart level. I hope you can tell a story that makes people care.
And you might not get there by handing down your mission statement from on high, fixed on a tablet or a corporate memo.
It might take some dialogue.
You might need input from your board, your customers, your team. You might need to let people kick that mission statement’s tires a bit. Your company’s story needs to stand the test of people. And of time.
Which takes a little time.
And, probably, a little help.
And, most of all, humility. We’re all just seekers after all.