Back in the fall our small group at church went through a parenting study called Ready to Launch that our pastor and his wife put together. It goes through the Bible to seek wisdom about parenting, discipline, the role of the church, and shaping a child’s heart for the gospel.
One of the first week’s topic was all about the importance of setting a family mission statement for your home. The point was basically to be intentional about the things you value and want to instill in your children, so that each member knows the family values and are working towards a common goal. Our homework after that week was to sit down with our family and come up with our own family mission statement.
Well, we put it off for a little while, mainly because it just seemed like such a daunting task. Create a family mission statement? Family values? That seemed like so much pressure and so very… permanent. Like, what if we decide later we want to change it? Or what if we miss something important that should have been in there?
But we decided coming up with something was better than nothing and we may as well give it a try. We are the adults, we can change it whenever we want, right? (Isn’t that one of the perks for being a parent?:)
So after a few weeks of procrastination, J and I finally had a chance to talk through our homework. We were in the car on a road trip, which, by the way, is the most conducive time for any “Big Talk” in our home. When you’re stuck in the car, you can’t escape the conversation!
It seemed kind of awkward and silly at first. But I here’s how we determined what our family mission statement one.
First, get out a blank piece of paper and start brainstorming any idea for what you want your family to look like and what is important to you.
Here’s what our list looked like:
- Grace for ourselves and each other
- Forgive each other
- Generous living
- Patient with one another
- Healthy lifestyle
- Giving thanks
- Play together
- Dance parties in the kitchen
- Servant’s heart
- Love each other
- Not entitled or spoiled
- Worship together
- Be active
- Simple, content living
- Care for the environment
- Travel and adventure
- Show hospitality
- Spend time in nature
Narrow Down to 3 to 5 Top Values
Next, narrow down your list to your top three to five values that are most important for your family.
We decided to choose a statement that was short, simple and easy for us to remember. Some families have longer or more profound mission statements, or a long series of words. Which is totally cool, if that’s your route! We just wanted it short and easy to remember. There’s no way we are all going to memorize long paragraphs.
So after narrowing down the long list of qualities we want to model for our kids and raise them here are the three we landed on:
Be kind to one another.
Have a grateful heart.
Live with integrity.
These are the core values we want our kids to exemplify as they grow up and continue as they enter adulthood: to love others with kindness, be content and generous with what they have, and live honest lives with integrity and doing what is right.
We decided to also choose a verse that we can claim as our “family verse.”
We chose 1 Peter 4:8-11:
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
We like that this verse includes qualities from our mission statement and also emphasizes the need for God to enable us with the power to accomplish them.
This is our hope: that as a family, we can love each other well, know and understand how much we are loved by God and each other and use our unique gifts we have been given to serve others and glorify the Lord.
What To Do with Your Mission Statement
Once you’ve set your family mission statement, then what?
Since the girls are still pretty little, we haven’t had too much opportunity to use them for discipline or encouragement. But we try to talk to them about them, rebuke and correct when we need to, and celebrate when we see either of them experiencing any of these in her life. For example, when L is being mean to M, we punish her for not being kind. Or when she’s being generous, we celebrate her grateful heart by sharing.
As it goes, of course, with all things in parenting, the lessons I really want my kids to know, are actually the ones I need to learn myself.
For example, since creating these values, I’ll find myself complaining about something and think: Oops. I am not being grateful for what I have. Or I’ll get frustrated with L for being extra whiny and needy and think: I am not responding very kindly to her right now. Or I will accidentally drop a piece of trash and consider not picking it up and think: That is not being a good steward of our resources.
It’s convicting stuff, y’all!
Ways to Incorporate Your Family Mission Statement
Aside from talking about the values with your kids, here are some other ways to incorporate them into your home:
- Memorizing your family verse
- Practice writing them
- Visibly displaying your values and verse in our home
- I got one of these letter boards to hang in our kitchen, and when we don’t have another saying on it, I keep our three family values on there as a reminder.
- Celebrating when one of our kids shows one of these values
- Rebuking and correcting our kids when they need to be reminded to be kind, grateful or aren’t living with integrity.
So there are our family mission statement or values. It’s nothing fancy or special, but was actually a great exercise in getting us aligned on what we value and what we want our family culture to look like. And if you need more ideas, there’s a lot of inspiration on Pinterest for how others have created one and other values they chose.
I’m curious: Do you have a family mission statement? Have you ever tried that exercise?