At the Willow Creek Leadership Summit back in 2007 (I think) one of the speakers said something that I still think about regularly. He talked about the idea of having a “shadow mission”. A shadow mission is a misguided version of your calling. It is something that is slightly different from your true calling, but similar enough to your calling to confuse you and get you off track. A shadow mission puts you about 10 degrees off course.
At the time, this really hit home.
Leah and I had been in a band called Save the Ship for about a year. We felt that God had called us to be a part of this band as a ministry. We even hoped that the band could be a full-time part of our lives. We wanted to devote everything to following God. But I had gotten off track.
Over time, my desire to be in a band superseded my desire to follow God. I worked really hard to make the band successful financially. Rather than devoting my life to following God, I devoted it to being in a band. All of my time when to booking shows and promoting online… and I could have justified every second of time that I wasted.
My heart was in the wrong spot. Though I was chasing after something similar to what we were called to do, I wasn’t actually chasing God. I was about 10 degrees off the mark. At first, 10 degrees isn’t very significant. But the farther you travel, the farther 10 degrees is from where you want to be.
I was reminded about this today when I read in John 5 when Jesus calls out a group of Jews saying “you search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.”
The people that He was talking to were looking for salvation in the Scriptures when the salvation that they needed was standing before them. Sure, you can certainly justify reading the Scriptures. There is nothing wrong with that. But by chasing after the Scripture, they were missing the point.