In the 2004 Olympics held in Athens, Greece, Matt Emmons competed in the fifty-meter, three-position rifle competition. He went into the final round with a commanding lead and needed only to get near the bull’s eye in order to win the Gold medal. He set his sights on the target and fired. It appeared he had gotten plenty close enough to win. He waited, but no score appeared. The officials huddled before announcing that Emmons had cross-fired – an extremely rare mistake to make in such an elite level of competition. He had hit the wrong target, so they had no choice but to give him a score of zero, dropping him to eighth place.
Many people get to the end of their life only to realize that much of their life was spent focused on the wrong things. How about you? Are you focused on the right target? Most of us live very un-focused lives distracted by the dozens of things we have chosen to cram into our schedules. We lack anything that really centers or guides how we choose to spend our limited time.
The Bible speaks about two different ways to run the race of life:
Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. (1 Corinthians 9:24-26 NLT)
God has a plan and purpose for your life. He has called you to something more significant than what your chaotic and frenzied life reflects. God wants every step of your life to be on purpose.
So how can your life become more focused? And how do you determine what to focus on? Well, there is a powerful tool that will help you answer these important questions. That tool is a Family Mission Statement.
When you have a Family Mission Statement:
- Decisions are easier to make.
- Activities are more enjoyable and life is more satisfying.
- Enables you to fulfill God’s purposes for your family.
- Helps parents intentionally prepare children for the work God has for them in the future.
Without vision, people perish. (Proverbs 29:18 NIV)
When a family gets really clear about the specific mission God has called them to, it brings focus to the activities of their life. They know how to make choices about what to spend time on and what not to spend time on. Having a family mission statement helps you aim at the right target.
9 Steps to Developing a Family Mission Statement:
1. Make it a family project. Involve everybody in the process. When everyone has a voice, then everyone will take ownership of the mission and be involved in the outcome. Some families I know have taken a family retreat over a weekend to knock it out in a couple days. Others will work on it over a several weeks by taking a couple hours on a family night once a week.
2. Start with prayer. Ask God for clear direction and insight into His plan for your family. Pray for unity as you work together on this project.
3. Explore each family member’s greatest strengths and talents. Take the time to identify each family member’s spiritual gifts, passions, natural abilities, personality, and experiences.
4. Identify your family’s core values. Discuss the principles that are most important to each member of your family. What are their most deeply held beliefs? What keeps you up at night? Look for unifying themes and narrow it down to three to five core family values.
5. Talk about how you’d like your family to be remembered years from now. When people think of your family, how would you like them to finish this sentence: “The Carter’s are a family that ____________.”
6. Identify your family’s ministry goals. If you could do anything to influence the world for Christ, what would it be? What group of people are you naturally drawn to? Who do you feel led to pray for?
7. Craft a succinct statement that captures a unified purpose for your family. There are lots of creative ways to do this. You might want to put up some poster board or a marker board and use brightly colored post-it-notes to do some brainstorming exercises. Let everyone play a part and make sure they see their fingerprints on it. If you have young kids, then make sure to make it a fun experience.
8. Display and express your family’s mission in creative ways. You may want to frame it and put it in a prominent location in your home. Make it your mantra and repeat it to each other regularly as a reminder.
9. Find a regular time for your family to pray and evaluate your progress. Maybe once a year set aside time to review and evaluate how your family is doing. Are you staying on mission or drifting? Celebrate some victories and determine some ways to improve.
Being a part of a family on mission brings focus to how you spend your time. You will learn to run every choice for how you spend your time through the filter of your mission. A family on mission is a powerful force!
Participate in the next Free to Live class and discover how to break free from the madness of your busy life and reprioritize around what matters by applying God’s principles to manage your time.
Stewardship Pastor, Southeast Christian Church
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