I think it’s important to develop a family mission statement for your family. I gathered the kids together and we came up with a family mission statement several years ago. I did this after reading Seven habits of Highly Effective Families by Stephen Covey.
One thing that Stephen Covey said in his book that really encouraged me was that we should not expect perfection or get frustrated when we miss the mark. He said that setting these goals would at least give us something to shoot for. If we are aiming at nothing, that’s what we’ll get. But if we have a target, we are more likely to do better than we would if there was no target at all. There would be something that our family could rally around, a plan that would promote unity and define what kind of family we are and what we’re all about.
Here is our family mission statement:
1. To live out the kind of life that God wants Christian families to live.
2. To teach other families how to live together in love and kindness, with God as the center of all we do.
3. To glorify God in all that we say and do.
Let the Lord build your house. Ps. 127:1
These are some of our basic beliefs about how God designed family.
We believe that children are important spiritually.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior. Ps. 127:4
They shall speak with their enemies in the gate. Ps 127:5
You train them and point them in the right direction, then send them out. Or even better, they find their own place in the family and the family unit stays together, even into the second generation (and beyond!).
Children increase your family’s spiritual power when you all pray together. When a family prays about their purpose and goals as a family, each member feels important and necessary. When a family does spiritual warfare together, the power of agreement and the dynamic of corporate prayer is added. The parents don’t carry the full burden of fighting for the family or hearing the voice of the Lord, finding out His will for the family in difficult situations.
When children have been trained to pray in this way, they may choose to gather around their parents and pray for them when they feel burdened. They can lift them up and carry them when they’re weak. When children hear parents arguing, they can pray together for them.
They can join with their parents and speak with their enemies in the gate. In this way, children know that they have a purpose and an important role in their family. Because you’re all in the same family, you have the same intensity of desire (and hopefully intensity of prayer) because whatever happens affects all of you. You automatically increase your prayer power through numbers and through agreement and unity.
They learn from the family how the family of God is supposed to live together and interact with each other.
Comparison and competition should be discouraged. Children should be encouraged to love their brothers and sisters. To be happy and rejoice with one who has something good happen. Instead of being selfish and jealous, they should be pointed toward the loving, giving way to react. They should be encouraged to help each other, to protect each other, to be nicer to each other than they are to non-family-members, instead of vice versa. The older ones should help take care of the younger ones. In this way, they begin to learn how to be good parents and how to be patient with others. These attributes will help them in dealing with people outside of the family – people in the household of faith and people in the world. The children in a warm, close family learn how to build strong, honest, loving relationships with others.
They learn how to handle stress and conflict in a loving way in a warm, supportive environment. Positive peer pressure can come into play when one child is misbehaving, and the others want peace to be restored. The whole family can express disapproval of the behavior and exert pressure on the renegade to line up with the will of the majority. Older children should be made to recognize their leadership roles. They are role models to younger children by virtue of being older. They should be encouraged to embrace that position and use it in a positive way. They should be rewarded and given positive reinforcement for setting a good example and for interacting lovingly with their siblings.
I recently read these goals to the family and asked their thoughts about how we’re doing as far as fulfilling these goals. The consensus was that we’re doing pretty well. We talked about areas we need to improve in. I asked if anybody thought we needed to change or add anything. Shawn mentioned that we need to make sure that people know how important it is to never show favoritism. We have seen families where one parent takes one of the children as their pet and the other parent takes another child as their pet. We think this is really bad. I think each one of my kids feels equally loved by me and by Gary. We have tried to be fair with each of them and give them attention and affection as equally as possible. Some need more attention or affection than others, and when they need it, all they have to do is come to us.
Another theme that seems important to us is developing personal relationships with God. It wasn’t going to church every Sunday that made a difference in my husband’s spiritual life, or in mine, really. It was developing our own personal relationships with the Lord in our prayer time and especially during struggles and trials. Our kids haven’t gone to church every Sunday. We haven’t found a church that could handle all of us. But we have been praying and studying the Word together, and my children are in good shape spiritually. I know they are.
Katie added that people who don’t spend much time at home but are busy running around all the time don’t seem to get close to each other and have a harder time getting along with each other.
Shawn’s closing statement was: A family should grow closer to God together. It should be a continual progression – an unbroken fellowship.