Family Values

2:57 PM

Over a year ago, while at dinner with some dear friends, they shared with us their list of Family Values.  It was a short list of words which they had carefully considered and defined as the values they most wanted their family to strive for and represent.

They explained to us that they talked about these values regularly with their children and tried to seek out opportunities to demonstrate those values in their daily life activities. Their very young children rattle them off with pride!

The idea of establishing our own set of Family Values resonated with me and Kyle.  At the time, Kyle was involved in a men's discipleship group with one of the pastors at our church, and one of things they were emphasizing was defining their life courses as men of God. Being purposeful about your life, rather than just being blown here and there by the winds of change. If you think about it, that's how most people live: reacting and responding to what comes their way rather than moving headlong into life with a goal.

Kyle eventually wrapped up his men's group with a very detailed list of his personal life goals and exactly how he would define achievement of those goals. He read them to me on Mother's Day and I must simply say, I was honored once again to be the one he chose to spend his life with. There are some men in this world who are a cut above the others, and I believe with all my heart that my husband is one of them. And I attribute it to his heart for the Lord.

Needless to say, his personal soul-searching prompted us to do some family soul-searching. It was time to be purposeful about our family. It was time to define some values that would define us, describe us and hopefully, shape us from here on out.

We began by asking some basic, but thought-provoking questions.
Who were we?
What was important to us?
What things did we want to avoid?
Where there qualities about our upbringings we liked and wanted to incorporate?
Ones we wanted to head strongly in the opposite direction of?

We labored over this process. We'd each write out a list of words, adjectives and try to whittle them down into a list that could become key values for us. We'd scratch them out, add to them, discuss them, argue about them.

It was important for us that they be specific enough to be easily understood, yet broad enough that more than one thing could lead to it.  If that's confusing, bear with me. I'll try to elaborate as we go on.  As followers of Christ, it would be easy to say a key value is "Christ-like". Well, that's really too broad. And truthfully, our desire to follow Christ and make decisions and take actions that mimic his own and demonstrate obedience to His instructions for us...that was foundational. Understood. The bedrock of our family. Being Christ followers is most definitely at the core of who this family is, but we didn't want to make our values just "spiritual sounding". We most definitely did want to make them consistent with our beliefs and supported by our beliefs.

And let me say right here that this list is and should be unique for each family, just as each family is utterly and completely unique.  The things that are crucial to you may differ slightly from us, but that in no way diminishes the importance of anyone's set of values. We are all supposed to be unique individuals, therefore, it naturally follows that we will all be unique families!

Here are our Family Values (in this order for no reason other than that they create a pleasing cadence which we hoped might make them more easily memorizable for our children):


Having read them, you may be thinking...huh. I thought they'd be more impressive than that. Or, I really would have picked ___________ over that one...The first time I told my mom this list, she did just that. She said, Oh, you really should have put "Grateful" on the list. Well, while we do think gratefulness is very important and something we will emphasize to our children, it didn't make our final cut. The point is, there will, of course, be many other important things that you want to instill and impart in your children and yourselves, but you can't have a list of 30 things or you've lost the point entirely. I don't use my mom as a negative example at all, just as proof that everyone will have a variety of ideas about what should be important. And they probably all will be important! My mom is absolutely right that gratitude is something that seems to be slipping away entirely from recent generations, and we will most definitely strive to teach our children to have grateful attitudes in addition to our top values.

In addition to identifying those values, we also defined them specifically to guide our family and also attributed a specific Bible verse to each:

We are confident in direction and strong in action.
2 Timothy 1:7 - For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

We think for ourselves and use our abilities to God's glory.
Psalm 90:17 - And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands for us; Yes, establish the work of our hands.

We live joyfully and encourage others.
Psalm 118:24 - This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.

We are truthful when we speak and faithful when we act.
Proverbs 22:1 - A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, Loving favor rather than silver and gold.

There you have it, folks. Those are our family values. Kyle printed them up on foam-core and they sit on each child's bedside table. We recite them periodically with enthusiasm! We bring them up at opportune moments (getting a shot at the doctor? No worries! We're COURAGEOUS!). We foster creativity through various means, as you've seen on this blog. And also, from a practical standpoint, we also make sure we even set aside funds for things that facilitate development of those values. Like money for art lessons, art supplies, etc.

Positivity is extremely important in this household because there are strongholds of negativity and a critical spirit from both sides of our genealogy.  From personal experience, we both strongly believe that there is no successful way to passively deal with them. You have to combat them with force and head on.  If you're not striving to be positive, to seek for joy and encourage others, then it is just too stinking easy to complain, bad-mouth others, whine, focus on the negative and just tear others down with your critical nature. This is a prime joy-killer in Satan's artillery. I know this so deeply and I fight this daily. This is important to us. And vital to our family's health.

Having shared these with you, I hope it spurs you on to consider your own family and the values that mean the most for you.  I can tell you that it was a curiously enlightening process just exploring the values that we could have used. There are so many. It is exciting to have nailed down ours. And a little intimidating because now that you know ours, you can call us on it if you see us acting in a way that contradicts them! Ouch!

Seriously, may we stimulate and challenge your own family to consider and define your own set.
Good luck!

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  1. These are so good!! We have certain words that are important for certain times...kind and forgiving have been huge for us lately..but to have core words--awesome!! You inspire me, Ashley.