A Mission that Fits (pt.3)

Exploring Phrases by Voting with Sticky Dots

The problem with Designing Purpose is not in not having any ideas or content to draw from, it is having too much.  Too many phrases.  Too many values.  One of my professors used to say about writing and preaching, “Ya gotta have the guts to cut.”  This is the phase in writing your Family Mission Statement that takes guts.  This can be easily completed by having another family meeting and give everyone sticky dots.  Sticky dots are amazing.


Sticky dots have so many uses.  Meta planning or getting all of the ideas out on a table or on a large piece of paper for all to see and then giving everyone an equal amount of votes can be done with sticky dots.  Of course, who doesn’t want to have a family game night where you try and stick the most dots on each other’s face?

Tools Needed:  Butcher paper, Markers, Sticky Dots, Willing participants.Sticky dot voting 4

Pick 10-12 of your most favorite value ideas and phrases that you think represent your family well.  Write them down on cards or butcher paper.  Here is the fun part:  Give everyone 10 dots and let them vote on what they think are the best ideas or values that they want to have representing their family.  A person can put one dot on 10 different values or 10 dots on one specific value or anywhere in between.  Once that is completed, the family can step back and see themes and trends.  It doesn’t take long at all.  The only caveat is to give everyone the freedom to think independently.  There is always 1 domineering person that has a hard time not talking during the voting process and seeking to sway the vote.  Nip that in the bud.

HOMEWORK- Go by Sticky Dots and have fun voting on things.  Get some practice for the big meeting where your family votes on the guts of your Family Mission Statement. Designing Purpose IS NOT BORING!



A Mission that fits (pt. 2)

Steps to writing your families' Mission in this world.

We are talking about Designing Purpose for our lives and families.  Why?  Because Family’s Matter.  We are in the midst of thinking through writing a Mission that fits your family or yourself.  The first step is rallying the troops then truly nail down values.  This post is simple and very applicable.  It asks a ton of questions to help you refine and nail down values.  The journey of 1,220 miles is accomplished one mile at a time.  There are key steps to take along the way:

  1. Rally the Troops
  2. Nail down Values
  3. Explore Phrases
  4. The Place of Roles
  5. Sleep on it
  6. Make it Public
  7. Make it a Daily Reminder
  8. Make Adjustments


Nail Down Values

I’m not sure enough can be said about determining values.  If you and your kids designed your values, now is the time to discuss those values and why they are so important to you and your family.  If you haven’t nailed down values quite yet, here are some questions that will assist you in having real and not just declared values:

Questions for Couples only:

  • What kind of marriage partners do we want to be?
  • What is the purpose of our marriage?
  • How do we want to treat each other?
  • How do we want to resolve our differences?
  • How can we both support each other in our respective goals?
  • How do we want to handle finances?
  • What kind of parents do we want to be?
  • What principles do we want to teach our children to help them prepare for adulthood and lead responsible, caring lives?
  • What traditions do want to keep and create? What traditions are we bringing into the marriage?
  • Are there things from our respective family histories that we’re happy or unhappy with? How can we change them if we’re unhappy?

Questions for Families of kids:

  • What is the purpose of our family?
  • What kind of family do we want to be?
  • What kinds of things do we want to do?
  • What kind of feeling do we want to have in our home?
  • What kind of home would you like to invite your friends to?
  • What embarrasses you about our family?
  • What makes you want to come home?
  • What do we want to be remembered by/for?
  • What kind of relationships do we want to have with one another?
  • How do we want to treat one another and speak to one another?
  • What things are truly important to us as a family?
  • What are the unique talents, gifts, and abilities of family members?
  • What are our responsibilities as family members?
  • What are the principles and guidelines we want our family to follow?
  • Who are our heroes? What it is about them that we like and would like to emulate?
  • How can we contribute to society as a family and become more service-oriented?

Question:  Does your family have values?  What are they?  Are they real or declared (are they lived out or only talked about)? 

A Mission that Fits (pt. 1)

Steps to writing your families' Mission in this world.

There is a difference between a compass and a map.  A mission is more like a compass than a map.  A compass can get you started in the right direction when you head into new territory.  One must learn how to hold a compass, learn which way you are facing in the first place in order to find true north, and give you confidence that you on the right path.  Just like there are steps one must take in order to use a compass, there are steps an individual or a family takes in order to design a mission.

KompassTaking the First Steps:

Each year, I drive my family to Raleigh, NC to visit my mom, dad, brothers, sisters, nieces, and nephews.  It is a 1,220 mile journey, door to door.  A journey of 1,220 miles begins with the first mile but there are many potential pitfalls along the way.  A mission statement has a beginning as well.  There is one principle that must be understood so you don’t get tripped up on the journey, the number one reminder is to understand that it is a living document.  It is not so important that it sounds good but that it is applied.  Designing a Mission has a built in feature that allows a family to tweak the wording from time to time.  Don’t sweat it, you are not locked into words that no longer communicate what you want them to communicate.

In the coming posts, I will be writing on steps a family, couple or individual can take in order to Design Mission and develop a purposeful life.  Here are the steps that can be taken in order to Design Mission for your family or your life:

  1. Rally the Troops
  2. Nail down Values
  3. Explore Phrases
  4. Write it Down
  5. Sleep on it
  6. Make it Public
  7. Make it a Daily Reminder
  8. Make Adjustments

Rallying the Troops:

My wife and I have been working on a family mission statement for nearly twenty years.  We started during our pre-marital days.  Our mentors encouraged us to have special times to discuss what we want our lives to look like.  We come back to it on an annual basis during family vacation.

This process can be an entire family adventure.  It could be extremely strategic to give everyone a voice.  The youngest to the oldest will be effected by the statement as well as give affect.  Make it fun if young kids are involved, have realistic expectations, listen for common themes and write things down.  One way to get more people involved is to have different people writing things down.  Sometimes the louder and more outgoing personalities can overwhelm the quiet, so instead of having brainstorming times, consider having write storming times, same thing as brainstorming but everyone is quiet and writing instead of a couple sharing their ideas out loud.

Someone, likely the leader, mom or dad, will take what has been written down and make summary statements.  A family mission statement will not be decided upon in a single sitting.  Time is not your enemy, it is not a sprint, it is a marathon.  The slower the better on this journey.  It is nothing like our trip from H-Town to Raleigh, NC.  I always try and beat my previous times.

Things to Consider:

Make family meetings short if you have young kids (15-20 minutes).

Have the expectation that kids will not be adults and give kid type offerings.

If you have older and younger kids, have coloring pages for the younger kids, so they can be around, while you work with the older kids in forming the statement.

What are other ideas on setting up a family meeting time?


Inward, Outward, Upward, Onward

The Importance of Mission in Designing Purpose

One family ingrained four words in their children’s hearts and minds as they were growing up.





It went something like, be a strong person inwardly, let it show outwardly, honor God upwardly and pursue your goals onwardly.  This is a type of mission statement that gave solid direction to this family.  What is a family mission statement?  Why this chapter is so important?


What is a Family Mission Statement

I like Stephen Covey.  I think he was the first person that I read that got me excited about goals, mission, time management, etc.  He wrote a great deal on developing mission statements.  He said, ” A family mission statement is a combined, unified expression from all family members of what your family is all about.”  A company designs a mission to communicate their “reason for existence.”  See if you can match familiar mission statement mottos with companies.

  1. The happiest place on earth.
  2. Leave the driving to us.
  3. Betcha can’t eat just one.
  4. The taste of a new generation.
  5. A passion for the road.
  6. Get your own box.
  7. Does she or doesn’t she?
  8. Play. Laugh. Grow.
  9. The best a man can get.
  10. Let your fingers do the walking.

Match with- Greyhound, Pepsi, Fisher-Price, Clairol, Yellow Pages, Gillette, Lays, Disney World, Cheez-It, Mazda. (ANSWERS BELOW).

Why is a Mission so Important to You and Your Family?

Many people have trouble deciding what’s right or wrong, and have difficulty making choices as to what they should do. Perhaps one of the reasons is because they grow up without clear values. The foundation of effective decision-making is having a set of real values and a clear mission statement to guide them.

Mission statements are like traditions.  Children will remember them when they get older and when they need to draw on their upbringing.  A mission will reinforce their values and who they really are, and will help them to make positive decisions.


A mission statement is like a compass that guides the course of an individual or a family.  By defining timeless values that do not change, it provides direction for strategies that do change. A mission statement incorporates values and roles (more on this in a future post).  It is actually better to call it a Categorized Mission Statement.

ANSWERS to Mission Mottos

Greyhound (2), Pepsi (4), Fisher-Price (8), Clairol (7), Yellow Pages (10), Gillette (9), Lays (3), Disney World (1), Cheez-It (6), Mazda (5).

Questions- Do you have a mission statement for yourself or your family?  What would you add to the positive reasons for having a mission statement? What other way would you describe the definition of having a mission?

Upcoming Posts- Is there a biblical basis for a mission statement? What is a categorized mission statement?  How does a couple or family design a mission statement?

Learning from Lemmings

Why Not Following the Crowd Comes From a Values Decision

Case Study in Values- Why are values so important?  Have you ever heard of a Lemming?  You know those short-tailed, thickset rodents found in the Arctic tundra?  There is such mystery surrounding these unsavvy creatures.  No one could understand why Lemming population fluctuated dramatically, from massive herds to near extinction.   ABC News in 2004 reported and some popular opinions:

“In the 1530s, the geographer Zeigler of Strasbourg, tried to explain these variations in populations by saying that lemmings fell out of the sky in stormy weather, and then suffered mass extinctions with the sprouting of the grasses of spring. Back in the 19th century, the Naturalist Edward Nelson wrote that ‘the Norton Sound Eskimo have an odd superstition that the White Lemming lives in the land beyond the stars and that it sometimes comes down to the earth, descending in a spiral course during snow-storms.'”

These were before some of more modern mythical understandings that lean more towards mass suicides as thousands follow one Lemming over a cliff to their death.  If one is described as a Lemming then they are considered a person who unthinkingly joins a mass movement, especially a head long rush to destruction.


Standing Out may mean you are Standing Alone

I learned from a really young age what it means to stand out or up for your values.  I went to a high school in Raleigh, NC.  The school had great spirit and a great many students.  We laughed out how many trailers the school had.  I think it was in the 30’s.  It was mostly an anglo school whose athletic programs were second to none.  Having been raised to compete, I had the privilege to play Football, Basketball, and Baseball all throughout high school.  Me and another guy were the only ones in this high school.

Through the work of FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes), I became aware of my need to have my sins forgiven and that receiving the gift of eternal life offered to man through the words and works of Jesus, I trusted in His work and received His gift.  I was instantly changed.  I changed both spiritually and socially.  Although I was among the few in the school who participated in varsity athletics, I was rather shy.  One of the breakthroughs that occurred in my young life was replacing my insecurity with confidence in the Lord.  Previously my confidence only came from competing and winning.  Spiritually I understood I had nothing to prove with the Lord and therefore nothing to lose.  My relationship was secure.  A huge confidence booster.  Socially, I began to share my new found relationship with my friends.  My bible study leader said it should be a value of every Christian, to share their faith and not be ashamed of knowing Jesus.  I made a promise with the Lord that if He would take my shyness away, then I would speak up and keep Him center.

I learned early that few people make it a real value to verbally communicate the importance of their relationship with the Lord but I still refused to follow the Christian crowd of staying silent.  However, that is not the lemming sighting.  That came during the Spring semester at a baseball practice.  Just prior to practice as we were warming up our arms and legs for practice a few of the guys asked me a very pointed question.  They knew I was in a dating relationship with a young lady.  Perhaps it was assumed (because everyone was doing it), but they asked, “Have you gone all the way with your girlfriend?”  I remember it like it was yesterday. For some reason, I was not embarrassed and to the best of my recollection I did not even hesitate.  I simply said, “No!”  I did not stop there.  No I remember saying, “Truth is, I can become like you anytime I want, but you can never become like me again, if you have sex with your girlfriend.”  That is the power of values.  Values have a way of empowering you at the point of greatest need.


Have you gone through the values exercise?  Was it easy?  Did you learn anything about yourself?  About your spouse?  About your relationship?

My suggestion is to take some extended time thinking through the exercise on the previous post.  If you are working through this with your spouse, I call it knee-to-knee time, then give yourself some time.  Set a goal, a good month, where you both talk off and on at times.  You will be glad you did.

The next set of posts in Designing Purpose deals with Designing a Mission Statement.  Not just any old mission but one that is based on your roles.