At this time of year many of us are making resolutions for the upcoming new year. A more effective practice is to develop a written plan and shared mission along with other people to hold us accountable to our “resolutions.” Here is a process that a family can use to establish a written plan.
The Master’s Plan
As Jesus began His public ministry, He knew where He was going. He had studied and memorized scripture well. Jesus understood that He was the Son of God, He was fully aware that He would go to the cross. Jesus realized that He would return to the side of the Father and He knew that He would return to earth one day. He knew about His future destination. Knowing His future destination gave Jesus clarity with His earthly mission: to make disciples.
Jesus communicated the plan to His disciples and constantly kept the plan in front of them as they followed Him in achieving the plan. Wise parents do the same.
In the same way that Jesus knew where He was going, parents should know where they are going, too. You should have a clear idea of what your priorities and goals are for your family. You can and should decide in advance the direction of your family; in other words you should decide where you are headed. Of course, in the end our steps are ordered of the Lord, and we must be flexible and willing for the Lord to change our plans. Proverbs 16:9 tells us, “A man’s heart plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.”
Preparing for Your Planning Time
One of the best examples in scripture that gives as a lot of helpful detail about planning is the book of Nehemiah. Nehemiah was a man who began with a burden or passion, who prayed fervently for God to give him direction, and was obedient in developing a plan and seeing the plan come to fruition in “miraculous time.” Nehemiah was diligent in planning, in communicating the plan to his followers, and in making adjustments to overcome obstacles and adversity as God’s people worked toward completing the task. Nehemiah created a “shared vision” with his followers; this is a very effective way to implement a plan. Read the first few chapters in the book of Nehemiah to see prayer, preparation, and planning and execution of the plan in action. Like Nehemiah, we need to ask the Lord for direction before we embark upon any important task. Proverbs 16:3 reminds us, “Commit your works to the LORD, and your thoughts will be established.”
Planning can be fun and exciting! As you ask the Lord for help; He will guide you. As you begin to write down the burdens that Lord has placed on your heart, you will be excited to take the first step in your passions becoming reality. There is something powerful about writing down your goals. Like a magnet is attracted to steel, your family will begin to be attracted to the goals that you have committed in writing to achieve.
Clarifying and Writing Down Your Plan
Meet with your spouse to establish overall direction for family. Always pray for the Lord’s direction as you plan. As you begin to write down your long term goals, prayerfully ask yourself the question, “If I could paint a picture of my family in 10 years, what would it look like?” Answer the following questions as you develop your family direction. Simply jot down a list of answers to these questions:
Think about your children in ten years. What godly characteristics do you want your children to have? How will you be serving the Lord? What is the burden that the Lord has placed on your heart? What people groups or underprivileged people do you want to help? What unique talents and gifts does your family possess? How do you plan to disciple your family? How much time will you spend with your children? Will you teach or will other Christians teach your children? How will you protect your children? What will be your approach with regard to your children finding a spouse? What sacrifices will you make in terms of possessions, career and hobbies in order to make disciples of your children? What debt level will you need to have in order to acheive the above?
Once you have written down a list of answers to the above questions, then take your list and make a paragraph out of your goals. Here’s an example:
Jones Family Ten Year Plan
“In 2020 the Jones family will be serving the Lord. The children will be in their teens and the entire family will exhibit the fruit of the Spirit. The most important fruit is that we will truly love one another and others outside of the family. We will structure our lives so that mom can be at home to disciple our children. Dad will work in a local business so that he may be near his family. We may not have an expensive home or a new car, but we will have the most important thing, love.
Our burden is to help orphans in America and overseas. We will….”
Communicating Your Plan to Your Family
- Direct your family to count the blessings of previous year. How did God bless us last year? Write down each response, while encouraging the responders. You are beginning your meeting on a positive note, and you want to keep the tone of the meeting light and fun.
- Read your Ten Year Plan to your children. Communicate the goals that you and your spouse have established for the family. Usually the father will lead, but either parent can conduct the meeting.
- Ask your children for their ideas. Write down each response. Don’t let one member (especially yourself) dominate the ideas; involve all the members. I try to withhold my ideas until the end of the meeting; you may find that other family members will have the same ideas that you had. Let them get the credit! Always affirm each idea, and don’t let other family members criticize the ideas of others. You and your spouse may decide to edit the list later, but if you criticize an idea during the meeting you will effectively “kill” the creativity.
At the end of your planning time, you will simply have a “to do list” of things you want to accomplish during the year and beyond. It is good to assign due dates for each item, and who is responsible for the task. The parent will be responsible to ensure that each task is accomplished on time, but when you review the plan together each family member will be responsible to the family for their assigned tasks. Below is an example of how your family action plan might begin:
Jones Family Blessings from 2010
God answered prayer about dad’s health concern.
Jessica born again!
Family learned about Spiritual heritage of America at Jamestown.
Jones Family 2011 Action Plan
Establish daily family worship Dad Jan 31
Bake Cookies for ministry Stacy Ongoing
At the end of the process, you will have a written plan in which each family member played a part in creating. This can be a fun, family-unifying project that will produce eternal fruit, if the Lord is leading the process!
Article from Disciple Like Jesus