Last month, I mentioned in my goals post that Andrew and I were writing a family purpose statement together.
We are facing some big changes in the next few months. We are already thinking through ways of integrating the relationship-centered, simple lifestyle we've grown into here in Cambodia with the fast-paced, task-oriented culture in America.
Why write a family purpose statement (or mission statement)?
We decided it would be helpful for us as a family to develop a set of values and priorities we believe God has uniquely given us. These are not hard and fast rules to dictate every decision of our lives. But when we're faced with choosing what commitments to make, how to spend our time and money, and what we feel God is calling us to pursue as a family,
this statement will help inform our choices and remind us what we truly think is important.
We can't do everything. So the most important thing is to figure out what our highest priorities are, and let the rest go.
After a month of discussions and prayers and drafts, this is what we've decided is our purpose as a family:
We believe our purpose as a family is to glorify God through how we love Him, each other, and the world around us. As we live out our unique calling in the kingdom of God, we believe He will meet the needs of our family abundantly (Matthew 6:33).
Our family’s decisions will enable us to:
· Pursue God’s kingdom
· Build relationships rooted in love
· Prioritize people over possessions, and memories over materialism
· Live simply so we have more to give to others
· Create a home where all are welcome
· Explore the world
How did we come up with this?
The main resource we used was this terrific post from Tsh Oxenreider at the Art of Simple. She lists twenty questions to help you talk through your values, passions, and hopes for the future. Her book Organized Simplicity also has similar information in the chapter on family purpose statements.
As Andrew and I worked through the questions, we realized that in the past (almost) 5 years of marriage, certain themes and values have taken priority in how we spend our time and money.
- Our faith in Jesus as our only hope is always front and center, and our motivations for life flow from him.
- We long to build deep relationships within our family and with the people God puts in our path.
- We don't want to spend our time or money buying more stuff that we then have to take care of; we'd rather spend it on making memories and loving people.
- As we live free of debt and other financial obligations, and also by keeping our time commitments small, we are free to be generous with both whenever God brings a need into our lives. We also want to avoid a lifestyle that is dependent on keeping others in bondage (such as buying clothes made by unethical companies or food that used child laborers) and make choices that will help make the world a better place.
- Hospitality is a gift we love to share; we are happiest when we have people over two or three nights a week!
- Travel is in our DNA as a couple. It's not just for holidays; it's a way of understanding the world, learning more about the human experience, and appreciating the wonders of God's creation.
How will we actually use this family purpose statement?
I am hoping to print off our statement, frame it, and hang it up in our house back in Kansas City as a reminder of what matters to our family. We intentionally kept the statements short and focused, so they would be easy to remember.
One example of using this statement is buying gifts for holidays and birthdays. Now, I know that for some people, gift buying is the pinnacle of their love language, and there's nothing wrong with that! But for Andrew and I, we enjoy givings acts of love instead. So for his birthday, I planned several little surprises that made it memorable and shared how special he was.
The beauty of a family purpose statement is that it can be whatever your family needs it to be. If you are trying to get out of debt, one of your priorities can be working towards financial freedom. If you feel a calling to support missionaries financially and with prayer, make that one of your value statements!
I hope this exercise has given you some inspiration for developing your own personal purpose statement!
This definitely isn't just for families or couples; it can be a great tool for small groups, individuals, or even roommates who want their home to be used for the kingdom of God.
If you have written your own purpose statement, I'd love to read it! Share in the comments a link to your blog, or just type it out right there so we can read it together and be encouraged to live life on purpose!
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