What is important to your family? What are your goals and dreams? What makes you unique and special as a family? What are your values?
Maybe you are thinking more along the lines of “How did you get that up your nose?” or “What is that terrible smell coming from the fridge?” and not so much about whether you are reaching your potential as a family. One simple way to make help keep the most important things at the top of our list is to follow the lead of the business community and write a Family Mission Statement. A Mission Statement is simply a short, direct statement of the guiding principles of an organization; the essence of what you are all about. It helps the company make decisions based on a cohesive identity and purpose. For families, it reminds us of the bigger picture and keeps us working towards our goals, not just running around (and around, and around, and around…). Do you want to give it a try? Here are a couple of ideas to get you started:
1) Hype it up
If you were running a business, you might get people together for a retreat to write your company’s Mission Statement. Why not add a little bit of hype for your family version? Make a treat and invite your family to get together at a designated time.
Let everyone participate in generating ideas, even young kids. I think one of our first Family Mission Statements had something about eating lots of ice cream in it. That’s hardly a guiding principle, but it was what meant the most to our three-year-old at the time. Try to get everyone to brainstorm what makes your family unique, what is important to you, and what you believe. Ask who you are as a family, what you are trying to achieve together, and what defines success.
3) Write it out
Put your ideas together in a few short sentences. Your Mission Statement might read something like these examples:
The Jones family is dedicated to improving the world around us, enjoying the outdoors, caring for the poor, and developing our talents.
The Youngs are committed to strengthening our family by living deliberately, seeking God’s will, serving others, and choosing family over other interests. We only allow kindness in our home, and act in ways that will help us progress as a family. We carefully plan outside activities so we preserve time as a family and make it a priority to have fun together.
This family stands for basketball, pancakes on Sunday, practical jokes, pets, working hard, and laughing out loud every day.
We believe we were created to make the world a better place, not to add to its burden. We recycle, stay self-reliant, consume less, and give more than we get. We believe we can change the world if we work together as a family.
4) Use it
Can you see the power that can come from examining and writing down the mission of your family? Write down your mission in a planning notebook, or display it somewhere it will be seen often. Whether it is for the small daily decisions or the family-changing big ones, use that Mission Statement as a road map and guiding principle. Will that choice help your family fulfill its mission? You can also use it in teaching children. Since they helped to craft your Mission Statement, you can refer back to it when trouble arises. Help children see that their interactions with each other are either bringing your family closer to achieving its mission, or further away.
I hope this gives your family a starting place for crafting a Family Mission Statement. As you think about what your family is all about, you may realize that the things that are most important to you have succumbed to sneaky time-stealers. If, in a moment of honesty, your mission sounds something like, “Our family believes in watching mindless media, eating TV dinners, and criticizing each other,” maybe it is time to do a little dreaming and set some goals. Craft a statement that represents what you would like to be as a family, and keep working towards that ideal.
Having a Family Mission Statement won’t solve all the problems, but it will help you know why those problems are worth solving. There is so much collective strength that comes from a family living deliberately. Knowing what we are striving for can make all the difference.
Give others some good ideas. Leave a comment and share your Family Mission Statement with us!