A Family Vision

Vision has been a word I have been interacting with and thinking about a decent amount recently. Mostly because it is an issue the leaders of our church have been discussing a lot. At this point perhaps it is best be honest and say that vision is not a word that I particular enjoy. Not because I have anything against the word itself, but it is a word that can hold a certain amount of expectation with it. In my limited experience with the word it seems that vision requires the development of a detailed plan by a leader and that it is to be given to the people under that leader. Not only does it seem that the leader is expected to develop the detailed plan, but also to implement it.

This seems so daunting to me. It seems like it is attempting to climb Mt. Everest with shoestring and a bit of chewed bubble gum. To me the ideal image of a vision, which is perhaps an ironic way of stating things, is one of figuring out what values are most important. It is not so much about making a set detailed plan, but more about figuring out what is or should be important in the life of an individual, group, or larger organization and then making real changes in that general direction.

With this background Kristen and I had a discussion this past weekend about what we wanted the “vision” for our family to be. What did we want to have be important to us? What things are the things we want to be known for? It is the first time we’ve really articulated the question and thought at all about it. It is a good question to think about. Here are the things we came up with.

Hospitality and Generosity – We want to be known as generous and hospitable people. We want our house and lives to be open to others. This is somewhat of a challenge for us to advertise considering that I’m a bit of a strange mix of introvert and extrovert and my wife is very, very much an introvert. However, we do want people to feel like they can come over at any time that we’re available whether it is for the need to talk about something important or just to have fun. We got a lot of exercise in this sort of thing from our good friend Andy, but sadly since he’s left we’ve fallen into not being nearly as good at that. Perhaps this is because not many people just call up on short notice and say that they’re coming over and that they may have a friend or four tagging along with them.

All of that probably falls more under hospitality, but I think generosity is a component of that as well. Generosity also includes being willing to help those around us going through tough times. This could be helping merely in being there to talk to or helping in a more tangible way. However, this is something we want to be known for as well.

A Graceful Spirit – Another value we want to have important to us is one where people can feel free to be who they are. Let’s face it on Sunday mornings we play a game of masks and deception. We try to put on our perfect Christian smiles and mask what’s going on in our lives. I’ve done it, you’ve done it, and sadly despite knowing we do it, we still do it. I guess ultimately we want people to feel like they can be themselves and are not going to be hit with a judgmental attitude.

The picture that comes to mind is Jesus eating and drinking with the sinners, prostitutes and tax collectors. Jesus does this without displaying a judgmental attitude towards those who he is eating with, in fact the very act of eating with them is showing them they are accepted by Jesus. Now does that mean that Jesus agreed or encouraged everything that they were doing? Do we think he viewed prostitution as legit or that he wanted the tax collectors to continue to extort money out of people? No, but he didn’t let that get in the way of accepting them and relating to them.

Granted the reality is that neither Kristen nor I are Christ, but we do have the knowledge that we are not perfect. We are sinners just like every single person on the face of the earth. All of us may be in different places, but there is no room to be able to look down on anyone in the face of that reality. We want to be there for people even if their views differ from ours. Those issues are not what make the whole person in our eyes. We want people to feel safe with us and not simply feel like a label or that their existence is reduced to one dimension.

Open Communication – We want our communication to be open and honest. Whether this is between Kristen and I as husband and wife, between us and our son Ryan, or between us as a family with other people. This can take shape in many ways. It can simply be in being honest about struggles we face. Being honest about our failures, our sin, our feelings, and our need for God.

I think this is also important as we raise our son. Having the ability to talk things through with him, or have him know that he can always come and talk with us through things is important to us. we don’t want to be known for simply pulling the “because I said so” card, not to say I won’t ever do that, but about striving for communication and giving honest reasons for things, but also being willing to listen to his reasons. We don’t simply want to micromanage Ryan’s life or the life of any of our other kids, but we do want and need to be invovled and interacting with his life as his parents, his guides, his fellow travelers, and his friends.

It is also about being able to discuss things, instead of simply debating things. It can be things as non controversial as these values and why we think they’re important. To our reasons behind our faith or even more controversial issues. Honestly the communication regarding some of these things may simply be the humility to say “I don’t know entirely,” but still being willing to say it clearly.

Balance – This is vague, but one that is a big one for me and one Kristen has been drawn more and more to. This idea of balance can be seen in a number of ways. It is the idea of seeking a balanced view of the tensions of Scripture. Free will vs. God’s sovereignty; faith alone vs. works; what we know vs. what’s in our heart; grace vs. truth; and the list could go on. So often we lift one up at the expense of the other, when scripture usually presents a both/and picture.

This is not just relegated to approaching scripture, but also in other circles. We have a tendency to drift towards extremes. Whether in our politics or even in our value judgments. For example the idea of claiming to be tolerant, yet being intolerant to people who have a different view than you. In other ways this is just about living life and not trying to sterilize it or only turn it into a big game. It is about being able to be mature and immature as the situation calls, to be among groups of people, but taking time for yourself and those closest to you.

Some may be concerned that I have not listed being Godly or some similar type of language. Honestly, I believe that these things are part of what it means to be Godly and I can only hope to achieve these values by being connected to and rely on God. Quite frankly, I get tired of trite sayings like being Godly or spiritual and would rather not use that language but yet be practical in my saying what I think following God looks like. That is the root of all these values a following of God and a reliance on his grace and mercy.

This is the vision we have for our family at this point. It may change over time, but this is where we are now. We may not have everything listed perfectly out. Anyone else thought of the vision of their family and what they want to have be known as important in their lives?

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