Our Core Purpose

Last fall, our extended leadership team (some 60 of us) got together for a planning retreat. During this time, we worked on our Core Ideology as a company. We wanted to answer the question, “Why do we exist?” and “What values do we share in common?” The answers to these two questions became our “Core Purpose” and “Core Values.” In this post, I would like to share the former.

We have now been living with our Core Purpose for the past six months. I think most of us are in agreement that this does a good job of articulating why we exist as a company. I have decided to post it here to a wider audience and invite your comments. What do you think?

Core Purpose


As a Company we believe that we exist to inspire the world. To make this personal and memorable, we have stated it as, “We inspire the world.” In order to make it clear what we mean by this, we have expounded the statement word-by-word.

“We”

The pronoun “we” emphasizes our commitment to teamwork. We cannot accomplish God’s purpose for our company on our own. It takes more than a handful of star performers. It takes all of us, collectively working together, each employing our unique gifts, to fulfill our calling.

“Inspire”

According to the dictionary, “inspire” means “1. To affect or guide; 2. To fill with enlivening or exalting emotion; 3. To be the cause or source of; bring about.” All of these meanings are relevant to our purpose as a company:

  • First, we want our products—books, videos, and conferences—to affect people. We are not in the business of merely entertaining our audiences or “tickling their ears.” Instead, we want our products to have a positive impact on consumers. In addition, we live in a day when people are desperate for direction and advice. As a result, we want our products to provide practical guidance.
  • Second, we want our products to have a positive emotional impact. Emotions are not something to disparage or disregard. They can be the very thing that provide the impetus for action. Inspired emotions can lead to noble actions. We want to intentionally stimulate those kinds of emotions through the products we produce.
  • Third, we want our products to be a source of real change, both in individuals and in our larger culture. Looking back over our lives, most of us recognize that real change frequently came about as a result of the books we read, the conferences we attended, or both. These types of products provide an opportunity to affect deep and lasting change.

It is interesting to note that the word inspire originally came from the Greek work theopneustos. It literally means “God-breathed” (Theos, God, and pneo, to breathe). This is particularly fitting for our company, since we acknowledge that God is the ultimate Source of inspiration. We want our products to be a means by which God breathes new life into His world.

“The World”

The world is the focus of our inspiration. While this work begins initially with the individual, it does not end there. Our goal is to inspire a chain reaction that ultimately influences the whole world. Our purpose will not be realized until our products are readily available and changing lives on every continent.

Want to launch your own blog or upgrade to a self-hosted WordPress blog? It’s easier than you think! Watch my free, twenty-minute screencast. I show you exactly how to do it, step-by-step. You don’t need any technical knowledge. Click here to get started.

Watch my free screencast

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are snarky, offensive, or off-topic. If in doubt, read My Comments Policy.

  • http://www.mosaictrust.com Derek Bell

    Michael,
    “Your Bloglet Update ‘From Where I Sit’” is always a great addition to my day. Thank you – I know it is an investment of your part.

    I love your purpose statement and I am comfortable using the “L” word because you are talking about the lives of people—and that is love worthy. The one comment I had pertains to the further explanation of the “we.” I would wonder if by the line “It takes more than a handful of star performers,” you might create a divide of those who think they are star performers and those who think they are not (maybe a lack of confidence). I know that is not your intent. Is your statement just as effective if you leave that line out? I am sure you want your editors to be star performing editors, your entry level publicist to be star performers, and even your janitorial staff to be star performers at what they do. Just a thought!

    Thank you again for giving us a glimpse of your journey – you are INSPIRING me!

  • http://www.livesunnysideup.com Carol Toirac-Michael

    I am a new reader to your blogs and have enjoyed what you have shared so far! Your mission statement is a good one, a positive one, but will your readers make it an effective one? There are times when I am inspired by what I am reading and I am impregnated with a the desire to effect change…but I come short of giving birth to that desire. How can we add…”to effect positive change” to our writings?
    We exist to inspire the world to effect positive change.
    I read a lot of inspirational books and but rarely do I find a book that helps me put mileage to the inspiration. I love the Word of God…I teach the Word of God, but the Word leaves the action up to our will and desire. A good inspirational book will not only create the desire but will activate our wills as well! When I write, I like to make it personal with personal action applied. I have changed my writing style to give my reader something to do now, not tomorrow, not next year, not in a given circumstance, but something they can apply immediately to the principles set forth in the article or book. My prayer is that the inspiration will effect positive change. Look forward to more of your blogs! God bless you…Carol

  • http://texlex.typepad.com/ Lexie

    We inspire the world. Simple and memorable. Goal reached. The elaboration gives it depth. If employess choose to grab hold of it, they will know they are part of someting bigger than their job description.

    I think the line about star performers acknowledges that while there might be employees that get more recognition than others, the company and vision depend on all employees. Each employee is responsible for their attitude towards their job in the company.

    Reminds me of “The Incredibles”. Mom says, “Dash, everyone is special.” Dash replies, “That means nobody is special.” I think it’s okay to say that some people perform better than others, it doesn’t mean God loves them more. Everyone is not equal in ability, but God still sent His Son for everyone.

    A bit of a tangent, but an explanation of my opinion.

    Your blogs are interesting and inspiring. Commendable that you open them to comments.
    Thanks for your time.

  • http://staceypacer.blogspot.com stacey

    Your mission statement is inspiring…I’ve been inspired just reading it…thanks for sharing!

  • http://christianfiction.blogspot.com Dee Stewart

    Your Core Purpose sounds commendable, but a bit safe. And from where I sit WestBow creates books that are better than safe. I think you should add “We inspire the world in truth.”

    Truth–meaning–God’s message.

  • http://texlex.typepad.com/ Lexie

    Dee makes a good point. Adding “truth” to it does add a little edge.

  • Laura Winn

    A story of how a Thomas Nelson book has inspired the world:

    In February I went to the northern tip of Indonesia, the epicenter of the Dec. 26 tsunami. I work in the production department here at Thomas Nelson and the day before I left one of my co-workers gave me a copy of The Barbarian Way by Erwin McManus. I was limited in what I could take with me, but I packed the book in my already cramped carry-on bag.

    The time I spent in Indonesia was life-changing: I was moved by the survivors of the tsunami. Every day after delivering rice, clothing, school supplies and hygiene products to the surviving villagers, I would return to camp and read a few pages of The Barbarian Way.

    While sitting on the “back porch” of the camp I looked over the devastated land and read:

    “Because Jesus did not suffer and die so that we could build for ourselves havens, but so that we might expand the kingdoms of his love. Because invisible kingdoms are at war for the hearts and lives of every human being who walks on the face of this earth. And times of war require barbarians who are willing to risk life itself for the freedom of others,” (McManus, 16).

    As the most populous Muslim nation in the world, Indonesia is a war zone both spiritually and physically. The physical war could be seen in 2002 when two car bombs were set off close to a Bali nightclub, killing more than 150 people. It could be seen again last September when another car bomb was set off near the Australian embassy in Jakarta, killing 11 people and injuring many more. The spiritual war takes a little more effort to see, but it can be seen in the eyes of a nation searching for hope and truth.

    God has called me to be a barbarian, to fight in this war for the “hearts and lives of every human being.” It is because of this calling that I am moving to Indonesia in August to teach at a Christian school in Jakarta. (The school is in partnership with my high school, Franklin Classical School.) God is using this unique school to raise up the next generation of Indonesian Christians.

    God used The Barbarian Way to inspire me and to call me to live a life that is unsafe in the eyes of the world.

    Thank you for publishing books that go against what is popular and “inspire the world.” It has been a blessing to be a part of it.

  • John

    Where have you gone? I just start reading your two blogs and you disappear! Please come back.

  • Pingback: Behind the Scenes: Thomas Nelson’s Quarterly Team Meetings | Michael Hyatt