A vision statement, much like mission statements in the business world, gives definition to what you want to become. A vision statement though often defined by the parents, can involve the children at some stage. Whether you include the children in the writing of this statement or not, the heart of it should be passed onto them so they can capture the excitement of what it means to belong to their family.
Not every family is going to be the same. We only have to look around at our friends to know that each family is different. I have two siblings, and each of our families are different. We have different values, different priorities, and different ways of living our family life. And that is all okay. In fact, that is the very reason why we need to understand our own family (our own family ways and purposes) so that we can stay true to ourselves and lead an effective family life.
My husband, Peter, is a pilot and he loves to look at maps and see the world from that perspective. As he plans his flights he tells me that if he is a few degrees off, even for a short period of time, at the end of his flying time he would find himself nowhere near his expected destination. This is obviously important as he flies around the outback of Australia. It is also an important lesson to be learnt in the training of our family. First we need to have a map to know where we are heading, to know our destination. Secondly, we must keep our instruments true to that flight-plan and be prepared to make the adjustments necessary in order to arrive at our destination.
Intentional and purposeful are two keywords that Peter and I hold to when looking at our lives and making our decisions. Though we never forget the scripture that says,
In his heart a man plans his course,
but the Lord determines his steps.
As we prayerfully considered what values to hold to, what priorities to set, and what decisions to make we have gone with the things that make our heart beat. We believe that as we commit our thoughts and decisions to God that he will change our heart if we are not in step with him.
Our Vision statement says:
Our vision comes out of personal relationship with God and the consequent desire for godly character. Specifically: order, peace, wisdom and creativity. These are to characterize our every area of life – our family, our home, how we relate to others and our business ventures. The outworking of this will be others knowing God and His purposes.
I doubt this means anything to you – but it means a lot to Peter and me. It has been a statement that has helped us stay firm and focused in the ups and downs of life. It has helped us stay focused on something bigger than ourselves and yet grow as individuals and as a family unit.
It’s about looking big picture (not the details)
Not long after Peter and I were married we went to a business seminar where they talked about “working IN the business” compared to ”working ON the business”. Working IN the business is about the everyday activities that make that business tick. Working ON the business is the big picture stuff: the decisions that shape and direct the business more than the hands on, nitty gritty. We took this same language and moved it over to our family sphere. We didn’t want to get so caught up working IN the family, the everyday messy life stuff that we never saw the big picture, never got to working ON the family.
So we set aside time to talk about our family direction, about what was important to us, about what we wanted to look like at the end of our parenting journey, what we wanted to be known for as a family. These types of questions helped us identify what values we held dear.
We spent the day brainstorming questions, sharing with each other, grouping similar thoughts, summarizing and rephrasing certain ideas. And we came up with a statement – which three years later, we revised and fine tuned to the statement I shared above.
Since then, we regularly look at this statement and see how we are measuring up; see where there are gaps which then help us set some goals for the coming year. We do set goals outside of this statement but I don’t think we have ever done anything that would be in opposition to this statement. Not because this statement rules our life, but because this statement reflects our heart.
Do you have a vision statement? Maybe the idea completely overwhelms you. And that is okay. We often we hear ideas like this and we get overwhelmed and mostly because of the language that we use – vision statements. That is pretty high powered. But all we are talking about is identifying key values, key practices, key purposes that you want to see your family charactised by.
Start thinking about your Family Values
Though it seems pretty self-focused we could all list a few things when asked, “How do you want to be remembered? Or, “What reputation do you want to have?” We can ask these same questions with our family unit as the focus.
- How do you want your family to be remembered?
- What reputation do you want your family to have?
- What dreams do you have for your family unit in terms of spiritual, moral, emotional, social, intellectual, physical well-being?
- What values do you want your family to live by, regardless of life?
- What habits do you want your family to live by?
- How would you describe the purpose of being a family? Why are you a family?
These six questions will prompt you to think about your family beyond the day to day activity. Six questions that will create conversation and vulnerability as you and your spouse talk about your family and your hearts desires.
Six questions that will help you be intentional and purposeful in your family life. Can I encourage you to find a time to start talking about these things. You may need to set aside a whole day, or maybe a series of coffee dates – whatever works for you.
It might be hard, you may well need to revisit and fine tune next year – but start today to think about the big picture of being your family. Start working ON your family.
Download this brainstorming worksheet to get your thinking started. I have also included some instructions to help your brainstorm session so you can start to fine tune a family vision statement that really does reflect your heart.
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