We watched this Academy-award nominated film last week and boy it was really something to behold…
It wasn’t our favorite because of the philosophical statements on society/humanity. And it wasn’t our favorite because they have this big righteous brood that seems wild and free (though that was pretty cool). It wasn’t our favorite because of the writing or screenplay or picture or costume.
It was our favorite because of how it puts a highly intentional family on display.
The family has its mission, vision and values pretty well laced up.
Although one of the major points of the film is the unraveling of the dad’s perfect family plan, you can see the sharp discipline and buy in of this family on a mission.
And THAT is awe-inspiring.
THAT is something that all families, the American family, most certainly the God-fearing family must embrace… (and like as soon as humanely possible by the way…!)
You see the problem is that, in our families-as in our personal lives, in the absence of intentionality there is drift.
When I say drift I mean in our character, in our spirituality and in our identities. So the first question I have is: do you think its worth it to leave those things up to chance… in ourselves or the kids we have the privilege of leading?
Without a plan, without a clear-cut and ruthlessly pursued vision there is just merely default mode. And the next question I have for you about “default mode” is this: is that really how you want to lead your family?
If you’d like to take just 1 or 2 positive steps in the direction of intentional family planning (and out of drift/default mode) then I suggest you consider this:
Consider the vision you have for you, your marriage and your family. I would define vision here merely as a picture of a preferred future.
What’s the destination? What’s the hope? This is most commonly illustrated by how our kids turn out. Now as much as their hearts, their character, their spirits are formed by the sovereign design of God and the ongoing activity of the Holy Spirit, we still have a profound role as their parents and leaders.
And we all have known that child who we, frankly, hope to God our kid does not turn out to be like. We see the attitudes, traits and behaviors of that student in our kids class, that neighborhood kid or kid from church and think, ‘man, I hope that’s not my kid one day…’
Well I have news for you: all the “hoping” and “finger-crossing” in the world is not going to move the dial on your kid’s heart and mind if you are still living in drift/default mode!
The principle I’m trying to elucidate is this: you know very well how you would like your kids to think, act, operate and carry themselves and you know how you would like them NOT to think, act, operate and carry themselves. The question, once again, becomes: what are we willing to do, today, to see our preferred futures realized?
You have to think, seriously, for a moment: what kind of child, what kind of family are we producing right now? Every 1 day we are given is a building block for our character and development that produces an outcome-one way or another.
When your child is 12, 16, 21 you will not have a “take-back.” Once again, nothing is “too big” a job for the movement of the Holy Spirit in your son or daughters life, but the point is not living on a prayer (to shamelessly draw on the scripture of Bon Jovi for a moment), the point is to intentionally draw your family into a preferred future shape!
Consider the values that you believe must be baked into everyday living in order that your odds of reaching this preferred future picture are maximized.
As the above illustration shows, it’s not enough to just have the vision of your family’s preferred destination. You must now begin charting a path forward for this vision to be realized.
Your family needs some software.
If the current state of your family’s values, programs and “standard operating procedures” is vacuous, then you might be in a state of drift.
In the movie, the audience is meticulously reminded of the systems and standards by which this family carries itself. They work out together, they hunt together (yes, hunt together) they cook and clean together-it’s systemized with everyone willingly contributing and it’s beautiful.
But there’s this one scene where one of the daughters, when asked how she is enjoying her book (a book in a series of pre-defined curriculum the father has apparently laid out for all the children) answers, “it’s interesting.”
The dad and 2 or 3 of the siblings blurt out almost like sirens saying, “that’s a dead word… she used a forbidden phrase!” And the young woman is encouraged to find the real nuance in her evaluation of the book.
I mean that may seem like a pretty small example but think about the power of words for a moment. This family had a plan and a system and a value in place for what kinds of words are allowed in their family or not.
We can allow words in our house that breed a victim-mentality, guilt, shame and greed or we can bind those words, correct those words and redirect those words toward the underlying emotion. And in so doing we forge the responses that breed the type of mentalities and character we hope to see!
If we would like to make the move from drift to intentionality we have to start today.
We have to create, first, a vision because vision drives it all. It’s our anchor, it’s our guiding light and it’s our destination.
Then we have to set about the tough work of baking values into our daily lives at home, in the car, at the dinner table, when we are out and about with play-dates… everywhere there is the potential for relating or communicating, there is an opportunity to see values lived out.
TIP: start by writing it down. Sit down with your co-lead and prayerfully consider what those founding documents might look like.
I’m curious: what are the visions and values that have served and guided your family? How do you find this article to be true or not as experienced by you and yours?