One of the things I've encouraged others to do is to write out a family purpose statement or even just come up with a few goals for your family that you can filter decisions through. It's really not unlike a business model. I'm one of those coo-coo people that attends business or leadership seminars and twists it in my mind as to how it can apply to family life. That's where my thought process came from on this. I observed businesses establishing a purpose statement that was used as a guide to keep their company on the right track for which it was originally started. Our church even does it--"Helping people to find Jesus Christ and follow Him fully." They make decisions for the church as a whole based on whether it fits within those parameters. I mean really now, doesn't it make sense that we do the same for our families? Don't you want to have an idea of where you're headed or do you prefer to blunder through each day? Do you have an idea of what you'd like your family/children to be like some day or do you just cross your fingers and hope for a miracle? How will you get there if you don't have some sort of plan of action or maybe a guiding principle to get you there?
Thus said, I did create one of these for my children when they were toddlers and it served us well for a period of time, but as my children have gotten older, I have wanted to formulate a new purpose statement because our needs have changed a bit, yet I haven't ever gotten to it. In my perfectionist way, I never really tackled it because I wanted it to be perfect on the first shot and ready for framing on my wall! I wasn't willing to write out a few ideas and then let them simmer into perfection over time.
Recently, I've gotten a reminder about this desire and thus decided to get over my bad perfectionist self and to just start writing. In an effort to possibly help others get started, I am going to share with you my very rough list of ideas. I still have to work them through in my mind as to what I want to add/remove and then decide if I want to formulate them into one fancy statement or to have bullet points. Still simmering...
Please keep in mind that my purpose for my family is going to look different than yours. You are welcome to use it as a place to get ideas and then form it to fit your family.
Early years purpose statement:
God has given me the vision to stay home with my children so that I might raise them to be a sweet perfume to whoever they come into contact with--behaviorally, spiritually & personality-wise. I also want to challenge them intellectually and allow them to creatively experience life to the fullest. I want them to enjoy life and likewise me to enjoy them. I thank God for the opportunity to stay home so that I have the chance to get to know them well in hopes that I can foster who God has made them and help give them opportunities in which to blossom regardless of their different personalities and needs.
Last week I had some drive time to sit with my husband and hammer out some current backbones of a new family purpose statement:
- Train and equip our children for adulthood. Not only in their actions like practical life skills and job skills, but also in character.
- We as the parents will work to be evermindful that we cannot just say what we believe, we must live what we say we believe.
- We will make sure that all of our children know that they are a blessing to us and they have our approval, regardless of the choices they make or who they become. They will always have our blessing over them.
- Help our children find & foster their personal gifts and talents--working alongside them to find their purpose and to pray diligently that they will not have a sense of wandering and not know what they are here for.
- We will work to raise our children to be leaders of the next generation. Children know who they are and what they stand for. Stand out as light in a dark world.
- Giving them a Biblical foundation/worldview. Equip them with practical skills like memorizing God's Word, knowing how to read their Bibles, how to study it themselves and to be in the habit of having a quiet time with the Lord each day.
- Putting our faith, as a family, into action by using our lives to be a part of the solution in meeting the needs of the defenseless.
- Family will be our priority. We will aim to make sure that our family does not get the leftovers.
- Keeping our daughter's Russian heritage alive/our heart for Eastern Europe at the forefront of our mind and actions.
Here's some examples: when someone asks one of us to join a committe, be a leader of a ministry or to go on a mission trip. Since my husband is on staff at our church, this happens to us all of the time. So we go to our family purpose statments and filter it. Does it fit for us to go to Haiti when our heart is for Eastern Europe? Should we serve the low-income kids, as a family, on a Saturday when Saturday is our Daddy's only full day off with us? Should I participate in a ministry that I love, but is on the only night we have together as a family? Should I take on being the coordinator for a ministy that I know I can do well, but will leave me exhausted and little time for my kids (and my husband, for that matter)? Does The Talker want to join choir with his sister since she is in it, but yet singing is not really his thing? Should we make our kids take piano lessons even though we've had a piano sitting in our home for over 12 years and no one has expressed one iota of interest in it? What about when our whole family enrolls in soccer? What if one of my kids doesn't want to, but wants to pursue baseball instead? Should we sign up our kids for a particular children's ministry just because everyone else is or should be skip it and find something else that is better suited for them and our family?
My list could go on, but I hope you get the point. We live in a culture, even the church, that offers us more options than we know what to do with, but we are only in this life once. We only get one shot to live it with purpose. I only have 18 years to pour into my children's lives. I don't know about you, but I don't want to waste it. So go ahead, do some thinking about what you want for your family in the years to come. Think backwards and figure out some statements/goals that will help you figure out how to stay on that road toward your end goal. Don't be a perfectionist like me. Put your thoughts onto paper, talk with your husband and get his input, pray, let them simmer and then refine them. After that...go for it! Live your life like every day matters!
*Some books that have been helpful in relation to formulating a family vision statement:
"The Danger of Raising Nice Kids" by Timothy Smith and "Visioneering" by Andy Stanley.