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Our God-assigned mission, or shadow mission?

By Dave Henning / August 8, 2018

“If we do not pursue the mission for which God made us, we will find a substitute.   We cannot live in the absence of purpose.  If we do not  live our God-assigned mission, we will live what might be called a shadow mission, playing a game we were not meant to play.”- John Ortberg

In Chapter 15 (“Beware the Shadow Mission”) of When the Game is Over, John Ortberg presents the concept of a shadow mission.  Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung (father’s occupation – pastor) used to speak of our shadow side.  Jung used this term in a secularized way.  Thus, he didn’t invoke the presence of God or the need for forgiveness.

Yet, Pastor Ortberg finds Jung’s shadow image helpful.  Because the image describes the sense of hiddenness, vagueness, and confusion that one’s sin causes.  Furthermore, John contrasts our God-assigned mission with a shadow mission:

“Just as we all have a mission — a way of contributing to God’s kingdom that we were designed and gifted for– we also have what might be called a shadow mission.  My shadow mission is what I will do with my life when I drift on autopilot.  It consists of the activities toward which I will gravitate if I allow my natural temptations and selfishness to take over.  Everyone has a shadow mission.”

In addition, Pastor Ortberg underscores, it’s enormously helpful to achieve clarity on your shadow mission.  It’s also important to name it.  Because when you see that mission for what it is, you realize how much you don’t want to devote your life to it.

“At the end of the game,” John cautions, “our shadow missions all spell the same result: despair.”

Today’s question: What Bible verses, hymns, or Christian songs maintain your focus on your God-assigned mission?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Treading water right now?”

About the author

Dave Henning


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