Creating mission statements is a very trendy thing these days. What I like about this trend is that is causes many of us to stop and reflect. It also causes us to be more intentional with our thoughts and actions.
Thinking about being intentional and reflective in our lives, my husband and I wanted to have a simple, yet strong statement to anchor our parenting. Both having education backgrounds, we have seen that there is power in agreements in classroom that can be referred to again and again. We wanted the same in our parenting.
We have chosen this verse from The Bible as our family mission statement:
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law."
Whether you use a quote you love from a book, a saying from a family member, reference a religious text, or use your own unique words, here are some questions to consider when choosing a family mission statement:
Is it memorable? What we especially love about this verse is that it can be boiled down to 9 words! That is perfect for memorizing. Those words can be said to oneself at school, in the car, at work, while driving, standing in the grocery store, while playing with friends, etc. When a mission statement has too many words, you run the risk of it losing its potential to be memorized, which then causes its meaning to be lessened.
Is it meaningful? As I examined those 9 words, I realized that 8 of them are focused outward. 8 of the words take the focus away from "me, me, me" and turn attention to others. The one word that is about self, refers to control! This lines up perfect with the type of citizens and community members my husband and I want to raise. We want to send children and someday adults out who do not focus on just themselves, but rather have a heart for the people of this world. It holds meaning that grounds us. That focus is simple, but powerful.
Is it reasonable? While there should be meaning behind your mission statement, you also do not want it to be too lofty. It should be reasonable to direct expectations for the youngest and oldest family members back to the mission statement.
It should reasonable to expect the most mature and immature in your family, to connect to the mission statement in some way. We do not know the personalities of each child who we will raise, but we know that they won't all be the same. Some kiddos may just spend time focusing on what loving looks like, while others may need more work in the self-control or patience areas. Different members will need it applied to different areas. Knowing yourself and your children well will help make this distinction.
Is it applicable? Our daughter is only 1 year old, so as she gets older the reference to this will increase, but I appreciate how applicable this is to many situations as I imagine into the future. I can see conversations around kindness taking place when siblings bicker, I imagine lessons on goodness taking place when we donate old clothes to others, I can hear conversations on patience when we "try again" and choose a response that does not include slamming a door.
I also VERY MUCH appreciate how this applies to not only our daughter, but to my husband and I as well. Whew! Patience speaks to me on those days where my toddler throws her 10th crying fit of the morning. Peace speaks to me when the doubts creep in those months that the budget is tight. Joy speaks to me when I remind myself to find joy in each day, even if it is a tiny moment or when I reflect on whether or not my actions bring joy to others. And self-control certainly speaks to me when I really want to pour that 4th glass of Coke for the day...yep, I said 4th! Those simple words sure do carry a lot with them. Remember, this is a family mission statement, NOT just rules for the kids. Our toes should be stepped on a bit as well. This also allows us to model for our children, that while this is what we strive for, humans are not perfect and we will all, even moms and dads, mess up.