A Family Mission Statement
By Dr. Jerry L. Terrill, Professor Counseling and Director of the Counseling Program, Houston Graduate School of Theology
Every syllabus at HGST begins with our mission statement:
Houston Graduate School of Theology equips women and men to be ministers and messengers of God’s mission of reconciliation through academic excellence, personal transformation, and leadership development.
Mission statements are essential for organizations. Clearly stating an organization’s purpose sets expectations, creates standard for evaluating institutional activities, and helps in decision-making. A mission statement can do that for families too.
A family mission statement allows couples and families to create a unifying vision for life together. It begins with an affirmative decision to identify the most important values in the family’s life. And, if it’s to be a true co-creation, it will require couples to communicate. The process begins with a statement or question that seeks to define the issue: What do we want our mission statement to look like? This will mean resolving to agree and disagree, asking for feedback in the brainstorming phase of development. By focusing on solutions and seeking out points of agreement, all parties will feel like winners.
Stephen Covey writes in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families that “[a] family mission statement is a combined, unified expression from all family members of what your family is all about and the principles you choose to govern your family life.” Covey goes on to say, “It’s drafting the blueprint before constructing the building, writing the script before performing the play, creating the flight plan before taking off in the airplane.” Covey believes that “the family is the most important origination in the world,” transcending gender roles of “your way” or “my way,” thereby creating a new way, a higher way: “our way.” He believes, “The process is as important as the product, the destination.” Covey maintains that the “mission statement focuses on the possibilities, not on the limitations.” Mission statements give a “sense of shared visions and values,” a sense of standards which become the “DNA” of your family life. It creates an explicit moral compass, “that the family is non-negotiable.”
Proverbs 29:18 informs us, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” A mission statement is a vision statement for successful families. It provides a foundation, a cornerstone, for couples and families to grow and become successful. The mission statement provides clarity, giving purpose and direction to your family. It provides inspiration and meaning that reflects your family values and philosophy of life. It is plausible and attainable. Above all, if prayer and contemplation are a part of the process, it reflects your love of God.