“Where are you headed from here?”
Creating a Family Mission Statement
By Dave Stone
Author of THE FAITHFUL FAMILIES series
In the business world, leaders spend a great deal of time and money developing a mission statement. That prime directive becomes the foundational principle for every job in the organization, every decision, every change, every dollar spent. When the mission is understood and embraced, it serves as a compass for every employee. Everyone aims toward that goal, and the company succeeds.
We know it works for business. Why, then, don’t we give more attention to the mission of our families? How can we be such fierce and focused leaders at work and not bring the same principles and practices home? A clear vision for the family, repeated and woven into the fabric of daily life, results in joy, direction, and confidence. Rather than aimlessly meandering in a maze, your family can find meaning through its mission.
I can hear you muttering under your breath, “Nobody said this guest blog required any homework. Besides, we’ve gone this long without a family mission statement. What’s the big deal about doing it now?”
Here’s the big deal. To steal a line from the feline, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.”
Think about it this way: Your phone or car may have a GPS, but until you lock in a destination, all it does is show you where you are. You can’t get to where you want to be until you know where you want to go.
In the first book of the Faithful Families series, we set the goal of Raising Your Kids to Love the Lord (cleverly, that’s what I named the book, too!). We all want that, but let’s kick it up another notch. If we truly are serious about Building Family Ties with Faith, Love, and Laughter (which is what I titled my second book—see where I’m going here?) we’ll need a compass to get us there. That compass is the family mission statement.
A mission statement is not something parents come up with and then impose on their kids. It’s a family project. You need to involve everybody in the process; decide together what your values are and how they can be reflected in your mission. When everyone has a voice, you’ll have what the business world calls “buy in” for years to come. Everyone takes ownership. Everyone is invested in the outcome.
It doesn’t matter if your children are five or fifteen, a family mission statement provides a rallying point, a focus, a center of gravity that holds your family together.
So, how do you go about it? It’s a simple process, really.
• Pray for God to give you all clear direction and unity.
• Discuss principles and goals that are important to your family.
• Talk about how you’d like the family to be remembered years from now.
• Write down several possible statements.
• Narrow it down to the best one, then pray about it for several days.
• Reconvene and determine your family mission statement.
• Schedule a regular time for the family to pray and evaluate your progress.
There are lots of creative ways to do this. You might want to brainstorm with your family by getting a large piece of poster board and some brightly colored markers. Place the poster in a prominent spot—near the breakfast table, maybe, or on the side of the refrigerator. For a few days, let everyone in the family write on it—graffiti-style—significant Bible verses, ideas, prayers, fruit of the Spirit, hopes, and wishes for the family. Set a time to brainstorm, agree on the principles, and identify goals that are important for your family. Use those as the basis for your mission statement.
Relax. This is not a test. There is no right or wrong way to go about it, no grades, no black marks on your permanent record. You are crafting this around the way your family is wired, so your mission statement will be different from anyone else’s. The detail, length, and intent are up to you.
If you asked the Stone family, my kids and Beth would tell you that our mission statement is: Go to heaven when we die and take as many people with us as we can. Maybe that sounds pretty general, but when you put it into practice, it makes a very specific and significant difference in the daily choices we make. Recently, our family went out to dinner with another couple. Beth’s friend later told her, “When we go out to eat at a restaurant, we go to eat. But you all go with a totally different agenda. It’s like you’re building relationships with the waiters and managers there.”
She was exactly right. We choose where to eat based on who we need to check on or follow up with, or where we think we can plant some seed. We’ve nurtured relationships with staff, attended birthday parties for their children, offered help when they’ve faced hardships. For nearly three years, on a monthly basis, we’ve invested in those employees. From that particular restaurant thus far, five of them have visited our church. God has blessed us as we’ve tried to live out our mission.
And that’s what a mission statement is designed to do—to provide a foundation for the daily choices you make and the way you live.
If you’ interested in creating your family mission statement now, we’ve developed a kit at the link below that’ll help you get started. The kit includes seven questions that will help jump-start your family’s brainstorming session. Also included is a certificate that you can use to write your mission statement and post up in your home.
And remember: a clear vision for family repeated and woven into the fabric of daily life, results in JOY, DIRECTION, AND CONFIDENCE.
*guest post provided by Dave Stone and Thomas Nelson Publishers. This is not a review*