Posted by: tucsonjefe | March 2, 2010

Eliminating Mission Creep.

Remember back in 2001?  After the 9/11 assault on the United States President Bush declared a “war on terror.”  Part of that war would be an invasion of Afghanistan for the purpose of deposing the Taliban from power, capturing Osama bin Laden, and disrupting al Qaeda training and staging in that country.  It is now 2010.  Two of those goals have long since been accomplished.  The third, the capture of Osama, seems almost forgotten.  Instead, we have now dispatched more troops for the pacification of the fourth or fifth Taliban resurgence.  As part of this plan, our troops are now involved in education reform, infrastructure building, poppy removal, economic redevelopment, and security force training.  This is a classic example of what the military calls “mission creep”: A tendency of military operations in foreign countries to increase gradually in scope and demand further commitment of personnel and resources as the situation develops. Field Manual 3-07, Stability Operations and Support Operations describes two types of mission creep. The first occurs when “the unit receives shifting guidance or a change in mission for which the unit is not properly configured or resourced.” The second occurs “when a unit attempts to do more than is allowed in the current mandate and mission.”  Wavering from the top and over-reaching on the ground causes bog-down.

Mission creep is not confined to the military. It impacts us in our ministry as well.  Sometimes we find conditions “on the ground” to be different than we anticipated.  We make what we deem to be necessary corrections that then become part of the ongoing mission. The witnessing team runs into homeless people who need food. The next week we carry sandwiches.  Suddenly we are planning a soup kitchen.  We put together a worship band to assist the congregation in their priestly ministry of praise.  The band gets better.  They attend a Christian concert.  Suddenly we are installing lights and subwoofers and smoke machines. Then we notice that the “kingdom of priests” are watching, not worshipping.  Not all “on the ground” adjustments are mission creep.  Some are simply enhancements to our ability to fulfill our mandate.  Taking time to determine which is which just may save the mission.  “Mission creep” is not a result of dishonesty or wrong intent, but it can serve to impede the completion of our course. It causes us to use our resources to do things we are not gifted and trained to do, sapping or diverting our ability to do what we were created to do.

Scripture Reading:  1 Samuel 15:22  So Samuel said: “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.

Somebody said:   If we don’t change direction soon, we’ll end up where we’re going.
— Professor Irwin Corey

During my prayer time this last Monday, I heard the words “mission creep”.  I am convinced it is the last time.  Each of us has an assignment given with a purpose.  It fits with the assignments of those around us and around the world, to execute a synchronized finale to this age.  It is daily more important that we stay on mission and eliminate the creep.


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