The concept is intimidating. I mean, who really has the time to craft a thoroughly vetted, perfectly worded, and beautifully displayed family mission statement in their home? Is it just for decoration, or is there some intrinsic value in having one?
It’s one of those things we’ve considered creating for years, but the desire for perfection stopped us. One glance at Pinterest and you’ll see perfect families, with perfect mission statements all apparently constantly living up to every last word in them, all day every day…
And so each time we discussed it, we stopped trying just after we started.
That is, until my fourth grader brought home an assignment from his public school last year. He told us about 30 minutes before bedtime, “I’m supposed to turn in a family mission statement for school tomorrow. It’s my homework assignment.”
I understand the value of a mission statement for organizations. It was just a few years ago that I worked with my staff to create one for the ministry I lead – The Mentoring Alliance. Ever since then we know that, “We exist to mobilize godly people into the lives of kids and families, to provide tangible help and eternal hope.”
This clarity of mission has been immensely valuable for us, as a ministry. But what about for families? Does a well-worded mission statement do more than create good eye candy for the walls of high achieving parents?
(My daughter, being my Vanna White…)
Back to my son’s assignment…
There were 30 minutes before bedtime. He had an assignment. We had work to do.
We gathered up all the kids – 5 of them in our family – and began kicking around ideas. They were all over the place: fun, faith, God, love, hope, mercy, kindness, Jesus, adventure, etc.
I looked over and saw a verse we had on the wall:
“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8
And then I thought about one of the core values of our church – generosity.
After going back and forth a few times we decided what it would be. We wrote it down, put our kids to bed all-the-while not realizing just how much this quick phrase jotted down on wrinkled up piece of notebook paper would do for our family…
“We want to walk with God intimately and love others generously.”
And there it is. No bells and whistles. No glitzy design package. No volumes of Bible verses providing backing for every key word throughout.
Here’s what I’ve found it does for my family… This phrase has become a north pole for us. It’s a plumb line, or a grounding rod. It gives us a common thought to come back to over and over and over again that reinforces a much larger concept.
Every word isn’t perfect. Nor is it complete.
In fact, we might change it next year. And if we do, no big deal. We’re not married to it. This statement exists to serve my family; we don’t exist to serve it.
Sure, you could work through instructions on writing family mission statements. That would be commendable. But I think there are many families – maybe like yours – that just need to create a simple thought that would keep your family pointed in the direction you want it to go.
If that’s you, I’d encourage you to decide this month what it’ll be. Don’t take a long time. With every passing minute your expectation of perfection will only increase.
Heck, maybe you could get yours done in less than 27 minutes. If so, I applaud you. But I bet you will find that short period of time spent on creating a family mission statement will provide you years of direction as you lead your family through the many difficulties we know this world has in store for us all.
Do you have a family mission statement? If so, please share…