by Ann Dunagan
God has a destiny for your family. He has an individual plan for each member, as well as a “corporate” purpose for you as a family unit. God will help you, as parents, to train each child toward God’s mission for his or her life, and He will help you to focus your family toward making a strong impact for His kingdom—in your community, in your church, in your children’s schools, and in the world.
In a mission-minded family, there’s a God-infused energy. There’s a focus on God’s worldwide purpose. There’s a passion for the lost. There’s a spiritual depth and hunger that reaches beyond the maintenance mode of cultural Christianity. A mission-minded family emphasizes leadership, calling, and destiny. There’s a prevailing attitude of self-sacrifice. And there’s an unmistakable and contagious joy.
I believe these qualities can be identified and summarized in three powerful dynamics.
Dynamic #1: A mission-minded family lives in submission. A mission-minded family is submitted. There’s a total submission to God and to His purposes. In archery, the arrow doesn’t choose its destination; it simply rests in the archer’s hand to be aimed toward his chosen target. When the archer is ready, the arrow will be released and as long as the arrow is properly aligned and unhindered by outside forces, it will soar forward toward its appointed destiny.
It may sound more important to board an overseas-bound 747 or to have the opportunity to influence a huge crowd of people, but these activities may not be God’s best plan for this particular moment (or season) in our lives.
We’re all called, as believers, to be a part of God’s worldwide plan; but His expectations for us, as individuals and as a family, may be much smaller, yet possibly even more challenging to obey. Today’s mission-for-the-moment simply may be to open our Bible and read a few chapters or to take a minute to pray for a friend. Maybe right now all God wants is for us to snuggle up on the couch with a little one and read a fun storybook. Or perhaps God’s perfect will is merely for us to quit procrastinating, turn off the computer, and go finish those loads of laundry!
Submission to God involves every area of our lives: our personal maturity (spiritually, mentally, physically, and financially), our attitude toward our marriage, our family priorities, our disciplines in home management—along with our ministry callings. As we allow God to refine those sub areas in our lives, we can trust that He will fulfill all of His mission promises to us … in His timing.
Dynamic #2: A mission-minded family is focused on eternity. Mission-minded families have a focused purpose for life.
It’s good to consider the godly legacy we will leave for the next generation and important to realize that our day-to-day decisions can leave a lasting example, for good or for evil. But as Christians, and as members of mission-minded families, our godly legacy is not the end. Our ultimate life evaluation will not be determined by the opinions of those we leave behind. Instead, our life will be judged by the One we go to meet—our almighty God in heaven.
A mission-minded family keeps God’s focus in mind. A powerful dynamic is present when you raise your children to walk daily in the fear of the Lord. It’s not about preparing kids to be successful, or to get into a good college, or to make a lot of money to give to missions, or even to do something “famous” for God. Our mission is to love and please God—to live every day in complete obedience.
How this plays out for each mission-minded family will be different. God has unique purposes and callings. But we begin with the end in mind. As we’re raising each of our children—from cuddling our babies, to disciplining our toddlers, to teaching and training our school-age children, to encouraging and motivating our teens, to aiming and releasing our young adults to God’s call for their lives—we keep the target in focus.
Dynamic #3: A mission-minded family is strategically aimed. Each person in your family has specific gifts and callings, and you also have a destiny as a family. God has placed you together as a powerful mission-minded unit, so it is important to seek the Lord for His purpose for you as a team.
Our goal is not to raise kids to be popular, famous, or wealthy. The goal is not to somehow get our teenagers to “survive” their youth without tasting a drop of alcohol, puffing on a cigarette, or experimenting with illegal drugs. It’s not enough to “hope” that each child will turn out okay or “trust” that they won’t be “too bad.” As we influence tomorrow’s world changers, our vision must be infinitely higher.
Instead of focusing on the “NO” side of human legalism (emphasizing our never-ending rules), it’s much more fulfilling and productive to challenge young people to live on the “YES” side of God’s life (emphasizing His eternal plans).
As we keep each of our children focused on God’s long-term goals, today’s short-term decisions will make sense. And today’s temptations, by God’s grace, will be easier to withstand.
As mission-minded families, we can seek God’s direction and then begin to serve as God’s facilitators and motivators. If we can encourage our children to discover God’s plans and want to develop specific God-given abilities, it will totally change everything. Instead of dealing with surface issues, we begin to train our children’s hearts and to focus on staying aimed toward God’s purpose. A change at this root level alters everything, from grades in school and success in activities to confidence in leadership and a spiritual desire to develop God-glorifying friendships.
The Mission-Minded Family
, by Ann Dunagan, © 2007, Authentic Publishing. Used by permission.
FamilyLife is a donor-supported ministry offering practical and biblical resources and events to help you build a godly marriage and family.