Establishing a Family Vision – An Encouragement for Home Educating Dads
By Kris Baines – January 2015
Many of the men reading this may be very good at managing their time – but for me this isn’t a strength. However, as a husband and father, I know I am responsible to manage our time well, to help avoid life becoming absolutely hectic and unbearably busy.
Something I have found helps me in this, is deliberate and intentional planning and prioritising. I am realising more and more that when life gets too fast paced, priorities get jumbled and important things get neglected – there is much I can do, with the Lord’s help, to make things more manageable and peaceable again. I often remind myself that there are always enough hours in the day to do God’s will!
So here are a few simple suggestions that may help you to develop a family vision if you haven’t done so already. For our family, this takes place through intermittent “family vision discussions”. I will give you the “loose” format we follow, and you can perhaps adjust things, according to what works best for your family.
OPENING PRAYER & FEEDBACK
We begin with a time of prayer in which we commit the time to the Lord, and ask for His wisdom. We then discuss how things are going in general, what is working and what isn’t, specific struggles, prayer needs and problems that need addressing. We also share victories and growth so we can thank God for them together.
This is also a time for me to be real with my children, sharing areas in which I have failed and how I am seeking God’s help. Children can tolerate a lot of mistakes their father may make, but not consistent hypocrisy.
DOCUMENTING THE FAMILY VISION
I have a notebook in which I document our “fluid” family vision. It primarily includes a list of those things we consider to be priorities for our family, in accordance with God’s leading and call upon our lives. It also includes the activities and actions that are the outworking of those priorities.
An example of some of the things on this list are: Family Devotions, Fellowship, Hospitality, Quality Family Time, Evangelism, Exercise, Topics To Study, Skills To Develop, Ways To Serve Within The Local Church etc.
I then write out some more details for each heading, for example: Hospitality: Having people around after church, inviting neighbours over. Skills To Develop: Photography (Sarah), Music Recording (Holly) etc. The whole point is that in addition to the home-education “basics” (reading, writing, maths), we want our curriculum to be an outflow of our family vision, rather than something separate from it.
“See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is”. (Ephesians 5:15-17, NKJV)
Once the main priorities and activities are noted down – we then evaluate the value, benefit and necessity of how our time has been used. This is where it is important to have a good idea of what your family vision is – and where you feel as a family God wants you to serve Him, and what areas He wants you to focus on. What gifts has God given your children? What burdens do you each have to serve God? Have certain activities contributed towards your family vision, or distracted you from it? This may take some time, but can lead to at least a draft copy of your family’s vision – and from then on you just need to make minor adjustments.
Having done this, the next step is to shuffle whatever you need to in your lives, to prioritise that which should be given more time and attention. Will one less “activity” in the week help your wife to not be so exhausted? Will a time of serving or ministering in a rest home help your children to become less self-centred? Is that weekly commitment to “help” someone out, causing you to neglect something of greater importance? The details will be different for everyone.
MOVING FROM THE “WHY” TO THE “HOW”
If something new is to be implemented, what needs to take place for that to happen and when will it take place? If something is to be deleted from the family schedule, when and how is that going to be done? Following these steps, it’s a very helpful thing to diarise another time to sit down as a family and evaluate again, tweaking where necessary. I only managed to do this about 4 times this year – but if I didn’t aim to do it more, it probably wouldn’t have happened at all! The goal is not perfection, it is direction – and without that direction, we may just slip back into a hectic pace of life, with no real sense of purpose or goal.
One of the most helpful things about having an established family vision, is when a new opportunity, activity or event is begging for our time and attention, it can be evaluated in light of the family vision, and that makes it a lot easier to say “yes” or “no” – and saves a lot of unnecessary hassle later on.
Lastly, if the initiating and leading of these kind of things is something that is very new, and even daunting for you, may I encourage you to at least start somewhere. Ask God for the necessary courage, and perhaps begin by communicating your desire to your wife, and seek her support. It may even feel awkward at first, getting the family together in this way, but over time it will become easier, and even appreciated by your wife and children. Aim to make it an encouraging, inspiring and special time, knowing that God is with you.
I hope this has been an encouragement to some of you dads – and I hope you have a blessed and productive 2015!
Kris Baines is married to Becky, and they home-educate their 7 children in Rolleston. In addition to running the Psalm 12:1 Project, Kris works as a pastor, paramedic, and composer. He also runs a ministry aimed at encouraging Christian men. For more information see www.psalmtwelveone.org.nz, or www.krisbaines.com. Kris can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org