Thursday, August 23, 2012

Without vision, the people perish

If people can't see what God is doing,
   they stumble all over themselves;
But when they attend to what he reveals,
   they are most blessed.
Proverbs 29:18 (msg)

It is easy to live a “good life” as a family.  I mean, we are busy enough just keeping schedules, doing homework, playing games as a family, dinner nights together, bedtime stories, reading our Bible, disciplining, refereeing arguments, limiting screen time, etc.

But is this a great story?

I was challenged when reading a Donald Miller Book, A million miles in a thousand years. One chapter is all about our story. This chapter is a discussion between Don and friend whose daughter has gotten mixed up in a bad relationship and made bad choices. Don tells him his daughter is living a bad story. The good elements of a story involve a character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it.  It involves trials, risk, and adventure.

“He thought about the story his daughter was living and the role she was playing inside that story.  He realized he hadn’t provided a better role for his daughter.  He hadn’t mapped out a story for his family.  And so his daughter had chosen another story, a story in which she was wanted, even if she was only being used.  In the absence of a family story, she’d chosen a story in which there was risk and adventure, rebellion and independence.  “She’s not a bad girl”, my friend said.  “She was just choosing the best story available to her.”

This chapter shook me.  There is more than just teaching Bible stories, praying, disciplining with Biblical truths and loving my children well. I have to invite my children into the better story; a story that has risk, danger, excitement and may even be a little uncomfortable at times.  After all, look at Jesus’ life, there was nothing safe about it.  My children have to feel needed in our family’s story, they have to have a vital role to play.  I have to be vulnerable to show them where I mess up and fall short.  I can’t be the director who has it all together.  I have to be a flawed character on the wild ride too.

We began to think about what story our family was living and how we were even communicating to our kids what is important or unique about our family.  We realized beyond reading the Bible together and praying, we weren’t being very intentional about the legacy we were leaving our kids.  There were things important to us that we were sharing lessons, but it wasn’t clearly communicated in such a way that they could see there are certain flags in the sand for our family when it comes to who we are and how we live. 

It was almost 2 years ago now, that we were challenged to define our values and vision for our family.   These needed to be concrete and over-communicated.  Our kids need to know who we are and why, and what the Lord has called our little family to be uniquely in his story. 

As we started this process and gave our kids more of a say so in our family decisions (even at the ages of 3 and 5), we began to see real change in them.  We started sharing with them the hard things going on in the world.  We would pray at night for the 26,000 people that would die that day because they had nothing to eat, we would talk about the people who could be hurt or killed if they follow Jesus.  Our kids’ eyes opened around a passion and vision we had for our family but did not communicate very well to them.

John and I took some time and separately came up with a list of 5 values that were core to us.  This list ended up being more like 9 each because it is hard to get them down. We realized when we came together we had 5 in common.  We began the process of discussing why it was important, how that is fleshed out in a family, how these will influence our story, our giving, our parenting.  We wrote them out, defined each value, and posted them.

Proverbs 29:18 says “Without vision, the people perish.” We had to cast vision over our family.  We now had a list of values that we could communicate daily to our kids, when we ate dinner, when we had an argument, when we messed up, in the midst of discipline.  It became a reminder of who we are and whose we are.  These became the thread of our story.  We began a family-giving -project that implemented several of our values and passions.  The kids had a huge part and they were thrilled to be involved.  

After examining what was really important to us and how God has uniquely designed our family, we came up with these values and descriptions in no particular order:

Stewardship/Generosity: We will give generously of what God has entrusted to us.
Gratitude: We will have an attitude of thankfulness knowing we deserve nothing.
Humility: We will remember who we are in Christ and therefore see extreme value
                  in others.
Faith: We will put our trust in Christ and the word of God and live it out in action.
Relationships: We will put high worth on healthy communication, forgiveness, and
                        respect for each other.

Out of these values we can develop our purpose and mission. We also spent some time praying through our 3 shared passions (the unreached, the orphan, and marriage) in the kingdom and that, along with our values, developed our family mission statement. These guide our decision-making, organization of priorities, and giving as a filter to what is important.

Then, post your values around the house, use them in discussion, in prayer, praise your kids when they did something that showed a value, talk about it in discipline as a reminder of who we are and are called to be. This is our legacy at stake. This is our vehicle to point people to Christ.

Our values will all look different from each other, as will our stories.  Let’s not get wrapped up in any comparison game.  Yours will look different than ours.  Let’s pray through what God has put on our hearts to pass on to our children.  Let’s instill an excitement for living the WILD story God has called us to.  If your story is boring, it may just be you aren’t hearing exactly what the Lord is calling you to! Spend some time in prayer as a couple in this. Get away for a weekend as a couple without the kids and set goals for your family, develop a mission or vision statement, narrow down to your 5 core values, discuss your shared kingdom passions. 

This is not just a good thing to do, this is crucial.  Lets set the stage for an exciting story to unfold as we follow Christ as a family. 

::If you would like to do this exercise as a family, here is how John and I did it... We took this list of 200+ values and spent some time thinking what we felt like the top 10 values are we would want to teach our children, be known by, pass down, or live by. We did this separately and then came together with our list of 10. Then we discussed why we felt like ours were important and saw which ones lined up. The list is not comprehensive. We made up a few of our own. And then we prayed about it and nailed down our 5 values we wanted to guide our teaching, discipline, dinnertime discussions, and way of life as our family.::
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1 comment:

  1. Truly beautiful and such an encouragement. Thanks for sharing!