How and Why to Create a
Family Mission Statement
Hey Friend! I know you have huge hopes and dreams for your family. You want to create the best family you can and for your kids to grow up feeling loved and anchored in your values. You want to be one of THOSE families. The ones that are happy, love each other, and stick together.
And you can do it! Those families do exist and yours can be one of them. I’m excited to share an idea that has really helped us in our family feel more connected to one another, unified, and full of purpose: create and use a family mission statement.
If you’re like me, when you were newly married you and your sweetheart probably talked about your future family, planning what you wanted it to be like. Maybe you came from a broken family and determined yours would be different. If you came from a solid family you had ideas of what you loved about your family life that you wanted to pass on. Together you had great hopes and dreams of the family you’d create together.
With your first baby your heart burst with love and a bit of fear. Your two-some became three and you felt the weight and glory of parenthood: great responsibility and also incredible power. You were the queen of your own little kingdom.
I remember these feelings cradling my first baby. I was excited to build our family and do the great work of parenting. Together with my husband I was sure we could do it. Bring it on!
Fast forward seven years and add three more kids to the mix and life got complicated. It was all I could do to keep kids clothed, fed, and alive let alone teaching all the important things like character, values, and principles. I was tired!
We needed a bright, tangible, easily-accessible tool to unify us around our grand purposes. We needed a stepping stool for our kids so they could reach the big, eternal, life-changing values and principles we were devoted to on a daily basis.
The family mission statement is just the tool we needed. And I believe it will help your family become grounded in the principles you hold dear and want to pass on as a legacy too. Even when life is going at a hundred miles a minute.
I’ve created a 10-page Family Mission Statement Workbook to help you create your family mission statement. This process isn’t complex but it helps to have a guide. You can grab it for free below as my gift to you.
Companies have mission statements but the need for a family to have one is even greater! With your family you are establishing an entity that creates human beings, builds generations, nurtures souls, and produces the essence of what is best in life. There is no greater work.
The world outside our homes is turbulent. Opposition to creating stable, loving, successful families is pressingly huge. There are countless distractions and deceptions that can scatter our families and we can so easily lose ourselves and our children in the chaos.
A family mission statement can help keep your family grounded and connected to each other and to true principles.
What is a family mission statement?
A family mission statement defines what your family is all about, what you stand for, what principles and virtues you value. It’s a tool you can post, memorize, and recite to remind you of what’s most important to your family, who you are, and where you’re going.
“A family mission statement is a combined, unified expression from all family members of what your family is all about – what it is you really want to do and be – and the principles you choose to govern your family life.” ~ Stephen Covey
Why take the time and effort to do this?
We found that our family mission statement does three powerful things for our family:
- Creates unity.
- Establishes vision.
- Gives purpose and identity.
We all helped define and agreed to live by the principles and standards laid out in our family mission statement. Additionally, we support each other in living these principles and standards. When someone isn’t following the principles, or the family as a whole gets off track, the family mission statement acts as a battle cry to pull together in the right direction.
“Having a shared vision – a shared sense of values and purpose – bonds parents and children together. It guides your parenting decisions and offers your children clear ideals to strive for and guidance in what choices to make. A mission statement also articulates the standards by which each member of the family can evaluate each other’s behavior, and children and parents will ideally check and encourage one another as they make their way down this agreed upon path.” ~ Brett McKay
Sometimes we look at life just one day at a time and get caught in the daily details. But creating a family mission statement helps a family climb to higher ground and gain a grander perspective. It provides opportunity to look ahead, be intentional about the kind of family you want and how to achieve it. A family then has a roadmap to follow.
“A family mission statement lays out a vision for your family of where you want to go and how you want to get there. It provides a path and guideposts pointing the way ahead and illuminating the curves and bumps along the way.” ~ Brett McKay
Without a family mission statement we are subject to the path of least resistance in raising our families:
“To be swept along with the flow of society’s values and social trends without any sense of compass, without a map, without vision, without purpose. In a sense, someone else has done the creation of your family mission statement for you, and unaware, you’re just simply living out the scripts that have been given to you. You’re really not living; you’re being lived.” ~Stephen Covey
Give Purpose and Identity
The world is full of identities and distractions that are fighting for your children: gangs, false ideologies, and the path of ease away from virtue.
“We know we live in a turbulent world. These are very complex, unstable times. There are many forces, both seen and unseen in the world that make building loving, permanent relationships at home and raising effective families more difficult than ever.” ~ Stephen Covey
Our family mission statement gives our family purpose and identity. When you create and use your family mission statement, your children will know who they are and will know they are part of something great. They won’t need to look for acceptance and inclusion elsewhere. They are already part of one of the greatest organizations in the world – your family!
How to create a family mission statement?
Here are 5 steps to help you accomplish this in your family. It’s not complicated, but remember, if you’d like some help, I’ve created a workbook to help you through these steps, you can get it below.
Get on the same page as a couple.
Establish the foundation both of you want your family to build on. Meet with your husband and together brainstorm and honestly discuss what are your core values and defining principles you live by and want to pass to your children. What principles really mean something to both of you? As the leaders in your home, where do you want to lead your children to?
“The single most important and far-reaching leadership activity that you will ever do in your family is to develop a family mission statement.” ~Stephen Covey
These discussions start the process and continue as your family grows.
Stanton and I find our favorite times to have these discussions are in the middle of a long road trip. With miles behind us the world’s cares fall away from us and our dreams are as expansive as the wide open road ahead of us. We dream together about what we want our family to be, and make plans for getting us there.
We ask ourselves questions like:
- What do we want our family to be like?
- What traditions do we want to keep and create in our family?
- What is really important to us in our family?
- What makes us really happy as a couple and a family?
- How can we build a family culture that keeps our family close and brings us to Christ?
This is a great time to be prayerful as a couple. We have our dreams and vision of what we want for our families, but so does God – and often His vision is greater than ours. He may open an understanding to you of your family’s mission and purpose that is bigger and more glorious than you imagined possible. Give Him a chance to guide you here.
There are a million fabulous worthy and wonderful principles we can base our lives on. Choose the ones you personally are devoted to and bring you joy. The ones you would give your life to. After all, you ARE giving your life to instill these most important values in your children’s lives as you raise them.
Be careful to not create a cumbersome list of overwhelming aspirations. Don’t get caught in the perfection trap. Don’t think you need to include every good thing out there. Be choosy. Be deliberate. Choose the principles and values that mean the most to you. What are you really about? What are you willing to bet your life on and devote your life to living?
For example, if you aspire for a clean and orderly home, yet really are not the type who happily spends Saturdays cleaning every room for a few hours, don’t choose “We are clean and tidy” as an emphasis. Just because another family has clean and tidy on their list, doesn’t mean you have to even though it’s a very nice idea. Don’t choose a principle that you are unlikely to live up to as parents leading your family.
Think in terms of big ideas.
When our children were young and we were in the process of creating our family mission statement for the first time, we were part of a family book club. Several of our friends were working on their family mission statements too. One family chose the term “Servant” as an identifier for their family. That word didn’t mean much to me and at the time it sounded kind of negative and I wondered at their choice. But when my friend explained it to us, I marveled at the beauty of the intention and vision of their family as servants of God and how that empowered them to live and act in charity as a family. Wow! I learned it’s not so much the words, but the meaning we instill in them and bring to life in our families.
Bring in the troops.
Now that you and your husband are clear on what you want for your family, it’s time to get the kids onboard. Remember, when people help create something they are more likely to support it. That’s especially true of kids.
“Involvement in the process means that family members discuss with each other and think about all of the issues, concerns, and dimensions until they begin to crystallize and settle in. Family members buy into it and begin to truly own the family mission statement. But until they own it, it is just some kind of abstract idea that has no impact on their lives.” ~ Stephen Covey
Council with your kids in a fun, casual, family meeting. Or, make it a special event. But never stodgy or formal. You want everyone to feel relaxed and comfortable. There’s nothing wrong with building a bit of excitement towards the event. You’ll start out with an initial meeting to get the process started. As you grow as a family and new inspiration comes, you’ll want to meet again to amend and adopt parts of your mission statement.
Here are some ideas families have used for these meetings:
- A pizza night with conversation around the table.
- A family campout discussing dreams and hopes under the stars around the campfire.
- A family hike to a beautiful location with a picnic lunch and conversation waiting.
- A night out to an inspiring play or concert then discussion over dessert.
- A family night in the living room with popcorn and a dry-erase board for brainstorming.
- Conversation around the dinner table at home.
Gear how you present this according to the ages of your kids.
Thing to keep in mind during these meetings:
1. Every idea is important and everyone needs a chance to tell what they think without criticism or judgement. You are mining for gold and the gold are the thoughts and feelings of your loved ones.
2. Really listen to what is being said, even if it seems like a goofy comment. Sometimes talking through it helps us get to the real meaning of what we’re thinking and feeling. Be patient as others share their thoughts and set respect for everyone’s comments as a ground rule.
3. Someone needs to take notes. Record the thoughts, impressions, and words used. This is fun on a big white board or on giant poster boards with colorful markers to make it more visual and fun for children.
4. Ask questions to help your kids get into it with you: What do you like about our family? What do you want our family to be all about? What is important to us? What do you think are the good things we can do as a family? What kind of a family do you want us to be? How do we want to treat each other?
Once you have the brainstormed thoughts, ideas, and words from your sessions together as a couple and with your kids, it’s time to craft the wording. If your kids are older, they can be part of this process.
Look for themes and big ideas.
Take those words and ideas you gathered as a couple and a family and look for themes and big ideas. What are the main ideas that keep coming up?
Create Power Phrases.
Craft these ideas into phrases. Don’t get paralyzed by trying to make it perfect! Just get those phrases down and call it good. You can go back and tweak it later as you want.
Make the phrases packed with meaning but short and easy enough to remember and memorize even for your young children.
Pare all your ideas down to 5 – 10 sentences. Don’t make it a huge list of things that don’t really matter to you. Remember. Be choosy and intentional.
Give it some time.
Now let it simmer. Pray about it. Make changes as needed. It’s ok to take your time and get it just how you want so all family members love it. This is going to be yours for a long time. Be happy with it.
For us this didn’t happen in one night or one sitting. It took thoughtful conversations, prayer, and revisions to get it how we wanted. We added to it over the years. You can find our family mission statement near the end of this article if you’d like to read it. And the truth is, it’s still not perfect but has been a huge blessing to our family for over 15 years that we’ve been using it.
Yours won’t be perfect or all-comprehensive either. That’s ok. Don’t get hung up on having it sound just right or look amazing. It’s the ideas in it that are important.
And that you use it.
That’s the next step in this how-to process.
Your family mission statement may be AMAZING, but if it stays hidden away and forgotten it won’t do your family any good. Tap into its power by making it front and center in your home and your family’s hearts.
There are lots of ways you can do this:
Publish it for members to see.
Write it, print it, do artwork around it, include it in family albums and books. Write it inside the family scriptures.
Frame it, hang it, tape it across from the toilet in the most used bathroom! (I’ve done that.)
Have fun learning it by heart.
Make a game of memorizing it as a family.
For children you can help them draw pictures of what the principles mean to them. Maybe create a picture “book” of all your family’s drawings of what the ideas behind each phrase of your family mission statement means to you as a family.
Put the words to your family mission statement to music.
Recite it each day with your children as part of your devotional and prayer time.
Refer to it often in daily life.
When decisions need to be made, rules have been broken, or something happens in current events that is related to the principles and values in your mission statement, talk about it as a family, using the family mission statement as a source of truth to lean on.
Make up stories to tell your children at bedtime where the hero lives out the principles in your mission statement. This does take some creative thought, but these stories will become some of your kid’s favorite bedtime memories.
Teach from it in planned and spur-of-the-moment ways.
Pray for it to be a source of strength, unity, connection, and power in your family.
Keep it alive.
Plan to review and revise your mission statement as needed to meet your needs as a family. Make any changes sparingly. The change must be purposeful and intentional because too many changes can confuse children and make them less loyal to your family mission statement. If it’s always changing it doesn’t hold as much power and awe.
And besides, it trips everyone up when you all go to re-memorize it (yep, been there).
But our lives and our families grow and change, our mission statements can and should grow with our needs. For example, in my family, we now have a home full of youth and young adults, and we are looking at being grandparents in the next few years. Our lives have changed and Stanton and I still have ongoing conversations about what we want our lives to look like. What do we want our family to be like with married children and grandchildren? If something substantial comes up through inspiration, we’ll adjust the mission statement to fill that need.
Our Family Mission Statement
Hey Friend, sometimes it’s helpful to see how someone else did the very thing we are trying to do. With that in mind, I’ll share with you our family mission statement and our experience creating it:
Our Miller Family Mission Statement:
Millers are DISCIPLES of CHRIST. We keep COVENANTS, build ZION, and defend VIRTUE. We seek TRUTH, KNOWLEDGE, and WISDOM through the SPIRIT. We build CHRISTLIKE CHARACTER to fulfill our MISSIONS in LIFE. We live to make men FREE through SERVICE and abounding in GOOD WORKS.
Be STRONG and of good COURAGE. WORK hard. STUDY hard. PLAY hard.
We created this and lived it one step at a time.
Step 1: Getting on the same page as a couple.
Our kids were young when we started creating our family mission statement. Stanton and I brainstormed principles we feel strongly about: seeking and living truth, freedom, serving others, foundation in Christ, becoming like Christ to best serve God and fulfill the life missions He would give us.
Step 2: Bring in the troops.
The process with our children occurred over several short, casual conversations with them about what our family means, what they like about our family, and what they wanted our family to be like. We tried to make these discussions fun with treats, cuddling, and wrestling with Dad afterwards.
Step 3: Write it.
We took the ideas from both our couple and family councils and incorporated them as we tweaked the words and phrasing to come up with specific sentences that encapsulated the heart and vision of our family. We started with a few sentences and added to it over a span of a couple years until it felt just right.
Step 4: Use it.
We memorized it as a family and most mornings we started our days out with the kids and I snuggled up on the couch for morning prayer, a song, and saying our family mission statement together. As long as we got those first three things in in the day: family prayer, a hymn, and our mission statement, it felt like a good day. Evenings were spent reading scriptures with Dad and reading-aloud as a family or playing games.
Our family mission statement and devotional acted as a way to start our days in a meaningful way and to create an orderly beginning. We sandwiched our days between this devotional time in the mornings and scripture study and prayer with Dad in the evenings. This seemed to glue us together in the craziness of family life with young children.
Step 5: Keep it alive.
While our family was young, it was hard to imagine anything beyond the routine I’ve described above. But like everything in life, even our families change. Our circumstances change. Children go off to school. They get married. They head out into their own lives.
But we’ve found with each change and adjustment we are still grounded through our mission statement. Now on our long road trips and in moments when the house is quiet (yes, those days really do come!) we dream of what the next phase looks like for us and our children. All along, we still have the foundational principles of our mission statement guiding us and pulling our loved ones close to us across the distance.
How our family mission statement is one of the BEST things we’ve done as a family.
- It helped us focus on what we were about.
- Helped us create an identity individually and as a family.
- It defined who we were.
- It acted as a framework from which to build our children’s faith in Jesus Christ, unify us in purpose, and create vision of what we felt was important to become and do in this life.
For sure, sometimes it was said in tired, bored voices. Sometimes with loud, silly jubilance. And as our children got older and our lives got busier and more complex with teenagers, we recited it less often together.
But I’ve come to realize how impactful this mission statement has been for our children when I see them as youth and young adults living the values and principles in our mission statement. They claim those principles for themselves. Their life choices uphold the values we included in our family mission statement. Realizing that is a satisfying mom-moment!
Our family mission statement and motto defined and passed on our values to our children. It has welded our hearts together as a family in identity, purpose, faith, and vision.
As memorized scripture and hymns are like spiritual armor for us when we leave the safety of our homes, a memorized family mission statement can be a strength, comfort, and reminder to our children of who they are and what they stand for.
Here’s what one of our son’s had to say about our family mission statement:
“It helped me feel united with my family knowing we all had the same goals. It helped me see we had a purpose, and acted as a compass for me. We are all trying to make the world a better place and be good Christians. When things get hard I can recall our mission statement and get a renewed sense of purpose and direction. I always know who I am. It means a lot to me. I feel like I have a map for my character; the kind of person I am going to be. It’s an anchor. It keeps me grounded. It is a guide. I can ask myself if what I’m doing is helping to fulfill my mission. If it is, I know it isn’t a waste of time. Having a memorized mission statement is a handy tool against dealing with hard times. It’s been a blessing in my life.” ~ Jacob Miller
In invitation: Create your own family mission statement.
Hey Friend, if we are not intentional then the culture of our families will happen by default, and will take the path of least resistance. This usually reverts to mediocrity, laziness, incivility, and lacking character. The counter-culture is strong and is happy to gobble our families up unless we provide a better, stronger way.
To have a culture of hard work, love, optimism, collaboration, and faith, we have to be intentional about it. As we are vigilant and purposeful, we will pass on a legacy of faith, love, and hopefully a whole lot of fun because intentional families are usually happier families.
Creating and using a family mission statement is a wonderful way of being intentional.
Give it a try and tell me how it goes! I’d love to hear your experiences and suggestions.
If you’d like some guidance in creating your family mission statement, you can use the workbook I created to help you through the process. You can grab it below for free as my gift to you when you sign up to receive inspirational notes and encouragement from me in your inbox. I love to keep in touch and share with you all the abundance tips I come across.
Grab your FREE Family Mission Statement Workbook here!
Want some guidance in creating your Family Mission Statement? I’d love to help you! I’ve created this FREE workbook to walk you through the process. I’ll also send you notes of inspiration and ideas for living life more abundantly. Hey, Friend, you’ve got this!
Sources and Resources for this article:
Covey, Stephen R.. How to Develop Your Family Mission Statement . Brilliance Publishing. Kindle Edition.
Covey, Stephen R..The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families