The world’s problems seem insurmountable at times. Our news channels are filled with tragedies–deaths, shootings and other criminal activities define today’s culture. Addictions and life-threatening illnesses may cause us to lose hope as families are torn apart.
According to Pope Francis in 2015, “the family is the fundamental locus of the covenant between the Church and God’s creation.” As parents, it’s our responsibility to model Christian living for others. Collectively, we can solve some of the world’s biggest problems but must start within our own families.
How Do You Define Success?
What does success look like to you? Do you define success in material ways? In other words, are you concerned with the type of car you drive, clothes you wear, or home in which you live?
Or is success intangible? Perhaps you are successful when relationships with family members, friends, and Jesus are strong.
My definition of success is intangible. I feel successful when:
1. My faith in God is strong and I’m surrendering to His plan.
2. Bryan and I have a solid marriage, encouraging and supporting each other.
3. Choosing compassion, rather than anger, in stressful parenting moments.
4. Serving others, using my unique talents and gifts.
Examination of Personal Values
If you don’t have a clear view of success right now, I’d encourage you to examine personal values. Some of the core Christian values include:
Which words resonate most deeply with you? How do you live out these core values on a daily basis? Which other values (excluded from the list above) are meaningful to you?
It’s OK to go against the grain. To live an abundant, prosperous life, your values may contradict ones traditionally espoused by society.
Other Values to Consider
We obviously live in a materialistic world. People wait in long lines to buy the latest iPhone, even when their current one is only a year old. Or they sacrifice time with family after Thanksgiving to be the first in the store for Black Friday deals.
Living a simple, uncluttered life is the opposite of hyper-consumerism. The minimalist movement is especially appealing for this reason. But believe me, I’m a work-in-progress. With three young kids, it’s quite challenging to model simplicity when friends’ parents provide multiple toys each Christmas while we insist on gift cards to family-friendly places. Joshua Becker says it well in the first issue of Simple Money magazine:
“Every increased possession adds increased anxiety into our lives. Everything we own takes up physical space in our home and mental space in our mind. Our possessions require maintenance and cleaning, creating a cause-and-effect relationship between our excess possessions and our overall lack of time, energy, and focus.”
I don’t know about you, but time is one of my scarcest resources. Getting rid of the clutter is freeing both physically and emotionally. Simplicity rules.
Perhaps responsibility is another value in your household. You have clear consequences if rules aren’t followed. How often do you see someone blaming another person for his or her actions? Maybe it’s the recovering perfectionist in me, but I’m quick to acknowledge when I’ve made a mistake and ask for forgiveness.
Do you also believe that honesty is the always the best policy? How many little white lies do you tell? Our kids see everything. When your kids are old enough, mention the ethical dilemmas you currently face as an adult. It will help them make wise decisions now and later.
You may also value tolerance. You accept others for who they are and don’t resort to violence when there is a disagreement, especially a political one. Moving beyond tolerance to acceptance and (eventually) appreciation is even more admirable. Anyone who espouses diversity and inclusion will tell you to not only accept people’s differences but to actually celebrate them, too!
Generosity, then, becomes the ideal. We should be generous with our time, talent, and treasure to help those who may not be as advantaged as us.
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” – Matthew 25:40
Patience is another common value. With technological advances, everything is on-demand. Want to skip commercials on TV? You can pay for a premium service that lets you record and fast forward through shows. No wonder Netflix is such a success for movie buffs and TV fanatics. Any parent of a young child will tell you that patience is a daily challenge.
And finally, courage. When you make a significant change, you must move past the fear of failure. That certainly isn’t easy. It involves surrender and putting your trust in Jesus, knowing he will carry you.
This can be particularly challenging if you’re a planner like me. You want to look into the future, envision a scenario, and research it extensively. You explore the possibilities. Staying stuck on the hamster wheel of continuous planning removes joy from your life.
Here is a recap of other values you may want to consider adding to your list:
Defining Family Values
Once you’ve identified your values, it’s important to communicate those values with other family members. Uncovering your spouse’s core values (if married) is an enriching exercise for your marriage. Understand that your spouse’s values may differ from yours. My husband Bryan and I individually reviewed a list of 50 values and selected our top 5 values. Of the 10 total values, we only had one in common.
Next, select five core values that will guide your family’s decision-making. Include your spouse in this selection process if you’re married. If you only have one core value in common, a nice compromise is to pick two from your list and two from your spouse’s list.
Finally, share those values with your children. Verbally expressing values is wonderful, but you should also model those values through your actions. Just remember to give yourself grace when you mess up (all of us do). Strive for progress, not perfection.
The foundation of purposeful living is three-fold. You should: 1) have an abundance mindset, 2) deeply examine personal and family values, and 3) craft a family vision statement. This article helps with item 2, and item 3 will be the focal point of my next blog post.
All of these foundational concepts are articulated in my first book, Redefining Family Wealth: A Parent’s Guide to Purposeful Living. The book will be available for presale in mid-May and published in early June. In the meantime, register for the WorthyNest® blog if you’re not already a subscriber. You’ll receive a thank-you gift and regular book updates.