One of the oddest, but eerily familiar characters in film is Milton Waddams from the 1999 satirical film “Office Space.” The movie is a wild exaggeration of the dysfunctional nature of the traditional office with just enough truth thrown in to make anyone with any kind of office experience laugh uncomfortably.
Milton's life is defined by his job. When your life and very identity is tied to your work, all manner of ridiculousness can crowd your vision. Milton is so fixated on the kind of stapler he has, the location of his desk, and the fact that he sometimes gets shortchanged a piece of cake at office birthdays, that he ultimately gets fired and burns down the very office that defined his life.
Don’t get me wrong, we want folks committed to their work, but when they are defined by it, things start to really break down. Folks like Milton, as it turns out, are the antithesis of missional DNA (mDNA). Movements happen when a community of people defined by their mDNA mobilize. Part of the painful learning of trying to reengineer a small business into a Kingdom focused vehicle for the gospel, has been the realization that folks like Milton (and there are many) stand squarely in the way of this effort, and folks with mDNA (there seem to be very few) are the necessary lifeblood of this kind of movement.
In Al Hirsch’s “Forgotten Ways,” the missional DNA found in the movements of the early Acts Church and the modern Chinese church form the basis of "apostolic genius." These defining elements seem to be essential for radical spiritual revival. It also, as we are finding out, is pretty essential if you are going to break rank and intend something unconventional and radical in terms of leading a Kingdom-focused business.
We are starting to see the powerful momentum from members of our team that carry missional DNA and have a life of mission and service outside the company walls. We are also experiencing the incredible undercurrent of those that don’t. While it isn’t reasonable to think that any company would exist with a disproportionate amount of team members carrying mDNA, it is essential that you carry more than a remnant, especially in your leadership, if you are going to move the ball very far down the field.
Finding folks like this and getting them into our leadership is essential for our survival. We are currently working on a project that would help us identify folks with either mDNA or at least some ability to find coherence in our missionally-infused values and purpose, before we hire them. More about that later.
Could you define the DNA of your organization or key leaders as missional?
Is there enough mDNA in you and the leadership of your enterprise to help you overcome all that stands in the path of your role in advancing the Kingdom?
As a leader, what do you need to do to breathe more mDNA into the family, business, or organization where you lead?