There were already nine children in our house plus my parents, so I guess one more really didn’t make that much of a difference.
One day my friends asked me why a stranger was living with us. I really didn’t know. So later that night I asked my dad. He simply said, “Because that is who we are.”
I don’t believe I really understood what he was telling me at the time, but I think I do now. He was telling me that this was our family mission. This is the standard by which our family would live.
Jamelle wasn’t the only guest that stayed with us. I remember some others as well but not their names. Mostly what I remember is that there was a set of values that my parents lived by and their values were our values. These values and principles that my parents worked hard at instilling in their children were what guided our family.
These values simple summed up what Jesus said in Luke 10:27 “He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”
When our boys were still pretty young, my wife Lynn and I started thinking about what values we wanted to pass on to them. We decided to write a family mission statement. We figured that this would be a good way to let our boys know what we thought was important.
We started by simply brainstorming with our boys which values we thought would be the most important. Then we wrote a sentence on what we thought it might look like when that value was lived out. Our nine year-old had a better understanding of what we were doing than our five-year-old, but even he was able to participate and share ideas.
Eventually we came up with a family mission statement that we all felt good about. We typed it up and printed it on nice paper. Then we put it in a frame and hung it in our front entryway. It was the first thing that any guest would see when they entered our home.
Having a clear set of values really made a difference for all of us. One of the values that we choose was honesty. There was a day when our younger son was caught telling a lie. We walked down to our front hallway and read the part of our family mission that talked about honesty and integrity. We explained how important it was in our family to be honest, regardless of the consequences.
When values are clear, decisions are easy!
One day I was at a garden store twenty miles from my home getting supplies for a large project that I was starting that day. When I got home I noticed that the store neglected to charge me for one of my items. My first thought was that since it was the store’s fault, I had no obligation to do anything about it. But then I looked over at my sons having lunch and I knew my integrity was at stake. I got back in my car and drove the twenty miles to the store to pay for the $8.59 item. Easy decision.
My boys know that we live by a code. As they have grown we have seen evidence that they too are living by the code. “Love the Lord with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself.”
Perhaps it’s time for your family to write you own family mission statement. There is no right or wrong way to do this. You can be as creative as you want.
If you need some examples, just Google “Family Mission Statement” and you will find hundreds of examples. Involve your whole family. Create something that you can all agree on and that will stand the test of time.
You’ll find that you as a family agree on who you are, it is a lot easier to be who you want to be.
And let us not grow weary of doing good,
for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
When someone asks about your Family Mission Statement hanging on your wall, you can simply respond, “This is who we are.”
By Pete Larson
Husband to Lynn
Father of two sons
1 Corinthians 13 Parenting Team Member
Executive Director of Family Fest Ministries