"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
-- Luke 4:18-19
Many companies and organizations have a mission statement, which is a written declaration that presents their purpose, work and goals. For example, CSX Corporation strives to "...be the safest, most progressive North American railroad, relentless in the pursuit of customer and employee excellence." Levi Strauss & Co.'s mission statement says, "People love our clothes and trust our company. We will market the most appealing and widely worn casual clothing in the world. We will clothe the world." Meanwhile, The Hershey Company--the manufacturer of delicious treats such as Twizzlers, Hershey's Kisses and Reese's peanut butter cups--gets right down to business with its stark mission statement: "Undisputed Marketplace Leadership."
A common denominator here is the principle of return on investment, primarily to the organization's customers and stockholders. After all, the companies understand that they would not exist without their benefactors' ongoing confidence and support. Likewise, their backers expect to see positive results in one form or another.
Jesus once told a story about a master who gave each of his three servants a considerable amount of money ("talents") to invest while he was away on an extended trip. After a while, the master returned to claim what was his. He was very pleased with the first two servants, who had invested what he had given them. Their efforts resulted in doubling the master's money. But it wasn't so with the third servant, who feared his master's stern reputation and the potential for loss. So instead, he played it safe and literally buried the money in a hole in the ground. The master was displeased, to say the least! Instead of commending the servant's regard for safeguarding his resources, he was furious because the servant had wasted the opportunity to invest and multiply his treasure.
That's where Jesus' mission statement for his followers enters the picture. God has given us various resources, skills, opportunities and circumstances for investing in the spiritual lives of others. They could be as close as your spouse, sibling or child. But they might be a co-worker, neighbor or someone who's put in your path at a most unexpected moment.
"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you," Jesus told his apostles, "and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."