We started off the New Year with 10 Ways to Dream With Your Family in the New Year. I will be writing a series on this later this month, but I wanted to also focus on the act of becoming a family with purpose.
Throughout the years, we have attempted to be intentional about being purposeful in how we live out our family dreams and our everyday lives. Nearly 90% of those attempts were unsuccessful, until I finally realized what was holding us back.
Three words: The Almighty Schedule.
It beat me like a dead horse but for some reason, I always came back and failed miserably to fit our family into the boxes of those I saw around me. I honestly believed that scheduling our family meant that we possessed purpose. But the truth is, scheduling our family was suffocating our purpose.
I have a vivid memory from when Jolie was a baby and I attempted to “get it all together” by making an itemized schedule of the day set in fifteen minute increments. It was ridiculous. And of course, in the first day when we were already “behind schedule” it caused us all to react and live not only in stress, but also away from our purpose.
Now, five years later, we have finally discovered that routines work best for our family. And quite honestly, routines in our home are very loose. Our family thrives on unpredictability. Though, because we have toddlers, who thrive on a sense of security through predictability, we have had to be intentional about including the hallmarks of our day consistently.
Becoming a family of purpose is something our family is going after in 2016. Abraham’s story speaks so much to us because in it, God was so intentional about calling out a family into the world. It was the first story of family missions in the Bible, and it fascinates me.
Longing to become a family with purpose? Here are five ways we have intentionally focused our family in that direction.
- Know your family’s purpose. What has God placed inside of your family that needs to be shared with those around you? Some of us have been so stuffed with the ideology of discovering “our” purpose, that we do not know how to be a part of a team. As a family, you are a team. Are you a family on a mission? Do you know what that mission is? If not, think about asking God as a family what His dreams are for you.
- Call out the gifts in your kids. As parents, we know our kids like no one else. Our three year old son has an extreme gift of encouragement. I’m not talking about a tendency towards flattery, Tuck literally can motivate and enliven people around him with his words and observations. He calls out the gold in people everywhere he goes, and it hasn’t been taught to him. It’s just innate. Are you calling out the gifts in your kids? Those gifts can help bring clarity to discovering how to live out your purpose as a family.
- Know the hallmarks of your day. Why do you do what you do? Each day, there are hallmarks of our day that we intentionally go through to build up our family. Some are small, like praying at the dinner table together. Some are routine aspects like our bedtime routine before bed. But all of these acts help strengthen our purpose for the day.
- Reassess, Reassess, Reassess. Some of the greatest advice I have ever received was that I didn’t need to fit my family into someone else’s box. That was so freeing to me! I would encourage you to find what works for your family and to constantly reassess what is working and what needs to be changed. I was amazed at how many things I did throughout my days that lacked meaning. When what we are doing does not work for our family any longer, we change.
- When you don’t know the big picture, focus on the basics. Sometimes change can be overwhelming. And to be honest, God might not show you the entire picture for your family in the beginning. In the craziness of life, one of the keys I have had to remember is to get the basics right. When all else seems too much, and schedules overwhelm our days, I know to go back to our family’s greatest purpose: to love and enjoy one another. If we aren’t doing that, we’re missing the point. Small steps like focusing on my marriage and doing small acts that speak my husband’s love language, making sure to hug my kids and tell them I love them each day, and even enjoying a cup of coffee are all basics of my day no matter what is happening in our world.
As leaders of your family, I want to encourage you to ask God about the promises He has placed over your tribe. In Genesis 12, God encountered Abram and said, “I want you to go to the land I will give you. I promise that I will bless you, and make your family great. I will be with you in all you do, and because of you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”
Abram, and later Abraham’s decision to obey God and live out his family purposefully meant that other families around him were affected. Your decision to live in the reality of the dreams God has placed in your family can directly affect families around you. What promises has God spoken to you about your family?