If you’re like most people in our culture, you find yourself running from one thing to the next. One writer called this the whirlwind when everything is flying around you, and you feel like you are just barely keeping your head above water.
We feel it with our jobs, finances, kids activities, marriage, health issues, aging parents, the list goes on and on.
We have a picture in our minds of what our lives should be like, those around us expect what our lives should be like, and many of us feel like we aren’t even keeping up, we’re falling behind.
I think the way forward is through creating a family mission statement, a “rule of life” for your family.
One reality is that 1 decision makes the next 1oo.
If you think about the process of getting out of debt or losing weight, that simple decision begins a domino effect. Now, instead of eating that second dessert (or dessert at all) or buying something on credit “because it’s a great deal” you now take a step back because you’ve already decided to get out of debt or lose weight.
The problem for us is that we struggle to make that one decision. We’re afraid of missing out, falling behind, not having as much fun or we just get caught in the whirlwind of life.
That’s why a mission statement is so helpful. It is a decision ahead of time to live intentionally.
You need to know this up front:
- This process is incredibly freeing.
- There is no right or wrong mission statement. It is your life, your family, you get to define it. So don’t compare to others.
- Lastly, future generations are affected by this statement because it will define how you spend your time, your money, who you are friends with, where you will worship Jesus, etc. Your grandkids will feel the effect of this statement and if you don’t have one.
Why do this?
If you don’t do this, you and your family personally wander around aimlessly. How do you make a decision when both options seem good? Without a mission statement, you guess and hope you are right. With a mission statement, choices become more natural. You are also able to evaluate things more clearly.
Let’s get started.
Start by listing out what God says about family and you. This should include things like accepted, loved, worthwhile, beautiful, well pleased (proud of), etc. The reason you start here is many of us are chasing after this, yet we already have this in Christ.
Start by listing all the things that describe your family. Not what you hope your family or life is, but what you are, who you are. What is important to you? What matters most? What things will you fight till the death on? This list should be exhaustive. You are listing everything you can think of. Words like creative, intentional, fun, athletic, etc. This can be hard because as you are listing out words about who you are and sometimes because we’ve lacked intentionality, we don’t like who we are. If you want to put in words that describe your hopes as a family, so changing your narrative, do it. This is your statement.
Now, start paring it down. Are there words that mean the same thing or can be combined? You are looking for about 3-5 words to describe your family or you personally. This is the beginning of your statement.
Then, think through 3 – 7 words that describe your values. If you have kids, these are words that describe the things they’ll know when they leave your house. Yes, you want them to know 73 things, but they probably won’t remember them all. Our family landed on gracious, generous, hospitable, learning and laughing. Why? That’s what we wanted our kids to know and what we wanted to be about as a family. Notice, there are a lot of things not on that list, and that’s okay with us.
Now, put it all together in a short sentence, you want it short enough to fit on a t-shirt if possible so you can remember it.
Now, here is how this statement can be helpful right now.
Having this statement decided will also help you make decisions about what is most important for your family to accomplish over the next 2 – 6 months. What one author calls “The rallying cry.” Sadly, most families do not have this. Each person knows what it is, but they haven’t agreed on it and aren’t moving in the same direction. This might be getting out of debt, dealing with a health issue, a learning issue for a child, your marriage. It is, outside of the usual things your family does, the one thing you have to do in the next 2-6 months for your family to go to the next level. Accomplishing this would mean a whole new ballgame for your family.
Once you have your “Rallying cry” what do you need to do to accomplish this? List all the things it will take.
Okay, now share it with a close friend or two. This can be incredibly scary. Ask them to listen as you read it and give feedback. Are the words you used to describe your family, what your family is? Do they see a different value system than you do? You want to pick close friends for this.
Once you feel confident, put the mission statement and the rallying cry in a place where you will see it on a regular basis to remind you and keep you on track. For our family, we discuss our mission statement as dinner and how we lived it out that day. It is an excellent reminder of what we are called to as a family.