I’ve been thinking a lot about the key findings from the Revolutionary Parenting book I outlined in my last post. There is so much to take away from Barna’s findings, but what convicted me to most immediate action was this one:
“Another of the distinctive qualities of Revolutionary Parents was that they set tangible and measurable parenting goals and held themselves accountable. Three out of every four of these parents (73 percent) developed and pursued goals. That’s about fifteen times the proportion among other parents.”
Perhaps because I am, by nature, a very goal-oriented person, I was surprised to realize that I have never sat down and explicitly outlined my spiritual goals for my kids. Reading that this is a key distinguishing act of the parents who raised “Spiritual Champions,” it was on my heart right away to sit down and get my goals on paper.
The book doesn’t provide further information on the nature of the goals these parents had set, and I’m sure it varies widely. I thought I would share what I wrote for my family this week as one possible thought starter for those considering goal setting. Simply figuring out how to approach the project is half the battle!
After drafting my goals, I would say these are the three key reasons I recommend other Christian parents take the time to do it:
1. Setting goals creates accountability – before yourself and God.
Putting my known objectives into words made them feel “official.” There is nothing I wrote that represented a giant shift, per se, in what I’m doing, but it felt like making a heart-felt contract between myself and God. This sense of accountability can only strengthen your parenting. If your goals do represent a large shift from what you are currently doing, writing them down can be the catalyst you need for making the change you want in your home.
2. It truly makes you reflect on what you believe.
There is a huge leap between conceptually knowing you want to raise your kids to know the Lord and verbalizing (aloud or on paper) what that specifically means to you. When you sit down to succinctly capture your deepest desires in this area, it really makes you pause to consider your beliefs.
3. It brings to light your weakest areas in Christian parenting.
As you’ll see, my goals are organized by topic: overall parental mission statement, personal spiritual growth, church, family worship, Bible study, prayer and service. For some topics, the words flowed effortlessly. I realized, however, that the difficulty I had writing about service was indicative of my current personal weakness in this area. I’m grateful this exercise brought to light my need to be much more intentional about service personally and with my kids.
For now, my goals are more like mission/belief statements. Over time I would like to evolve this to include specific measurable steps under each area. This is simply a starting point. I hope it encourages you to develop your own family’s mission statements and goals! Here are mine.
Overall Parental Mission Statement
God is the center of our home. There is nothing more important in our parenting efforts than raising our children to know the Lord and all of our parenting decisions must reflect that truth. We humbly acknowledge that we cannot “make” our children into Christ-followers; we know that it is through the Lord’s work in them that they will ultimately come to love Him. That said, God has called us to be the primary spiritual guides of our children on earth and we will work daily to build a foundation of faith for them that He can use to draw them close for a lifetime.
Personal Spiritual Growth
We know that we cannot raise our children to be mature believers in Christ if we are not mature in our faith ourselves. We firmly believe that we are called to a life of consistent spiritual growth and that being a Christian is not defined simply by the moment of professing belief in Christ. We desire to continually grow in our relationship with Jesus, study the Bible regularly and deeply, and serve others throughout our lives.
We believe that church is an important component of our spiritual lives, as it provides a needed opportunity to worship, learn, fellowship and serve corporately. We will attend church weekly to demonstrate this importance to our kids. This means that, while living in our home, each of our kids will be required to attend church with us. We will pay particular attention to ensuring church attendance is a meaningful part of our family’s week rather than a routine event that becomes seen as a “task.”
We recognize that family worship time is a unique opportunity for all of us to grow together in our faith. While attending church is important in that it places us in a community of believers, we believe that it is not a replacement for the intimacy of worshipping together as a family. Through setting aside daily time to worship as a family, we seek to provide the spiritual space for modeling applied faith and having honest and open conversations about the Christian life. Worship time will vary in structure based on the ages of the kids, but will typically include Bible study, discussion, prayer and singing.
It is our firmest conviction that a deep understanding of the Bible is of utmost importance for building our kids’ faith foundation. We believe that simply passing on our personal faith experience as “evidence” for the validity of Christianity is of very limited value in developing our children’s faith; people of all faiths have strong personal experiences that lead them to embrace their beliefs. We believe, however, in the exclusive truth of Christianity, which finds its primary revelation in the Bible. To this end, we acknowledge that the Bible is a complex book theologically, historically and literarily, and that it is our responsibility to guide our kids well beyond a cursory knowledge of key points. We are committed to teaching our kids, in age-appropriate ways, the Bible in great depth.
We believe that prayer is the core foundation of a relationship with Jesus and we desire to frequently model a healthy prayer life at home. We desire for our kids to have the opportunity to hear many prayers and say many prayers in order to comfortably embrace prayer in their own lives. This means we will strive to pray at a variety of times, ensuring our family prayer life does not become limited to certain times of day (e.g., only meal time or night time), certain family members (e.g., only daddy or only mommy), or certain reasons (e.g., only petition or thanks).
We believe that serving others is a core calling of our Christian faith, and that it should be a focus that does not vary with personal time or financial circumstances; we must have a consistent heart for serving others. We will actively seek to 1) educate our kids on the many different needs in the world (locally, nationally and internationally) and 2) find ways to take action on that knowledge.
Have you considered writing family spiritual goals? What categories would you add? How would you approach this? There is no wrong way – I would love to read your ideas!