Family Vision

Last month I encouraged you to develop a general vision for the new school year. Leading with vision is the key to family unity, peace, order, and effectiveness. This month, I have some suggestions for fashioning a vision for each member of your family. One of the benefits as you go through the process of discussing vision with others is building relationships. As you listen to their hearts, their dreams, and their desires, and they yours, you grow closer together. This is invaluable for you as a leader because that kind of concern and care adds value to your relationship in the minds of those you are called to serve.

Where there is no vision the people are unrestrained  

Proverbs 29:18 indicates that problems arise where there is no vision. Why? Because one of the purposes of vision is to provide restraint. Without vision, each person in your family will come up with his or her own vision on a daily basis. When those visions are not the same, conflict occurs. However, when everyone has agreed upon the vision for the family and also sees how their own personal vision fits in with everyone else’s vision, many conflicts are avoided, and peace and unity are the benefits.

Your wife will love it

Some of the most memorable times in our marriage when we were discipling our children were the times Alma and I got away together for a weekend to develop vision for each of the children. My vision for the weekend was to give Alma all the time she wanted to tell me about them. I arranged for a sitter to stay with the kids for about two and a half days. Then I surprised her with the location for our time away together. Usually we went to a Southern California beach city or to a friend’s cabin in the mountains.

The plan was for her to have my undivided attention as she gave her evaluation of each of the children. I took notes. Wow, would it have been much easier had we had an iPad or a laptop computer! I usually took a legal pad and pen to record the important points, both positive and negative. I have to admit it took a great amount of self-restraint to not argue or debate with her. Although I wanted her viewpoint first, often our perceptions weren’t the same (Are we the only ones that have experienced this?). Because I listened first, she was more desirous to hear about my viewpoint afterwards.

The fact of the matter was that she knew the kids better than I did. She lived with them all day, taught them, administrated their activities, and monitored their work and relationships. When I came home in the evenings, we ate and played together, did some chores, and had family devotions before bedtime–hardly a view of real life. I desperately needed her input as we set the vision for each child. As we talked, I was listening for how each child needed to grow in six general areas of life.

We developed vision in six areas of life

One of my visions for our time together was for us to develop vision for each of the children in six areas of life that could be discussed, negotiated, and agreed upon when we returned. Usually it took a day and a half to gather information. I felt a little like a private detective gathering facts on each one. The six areas of life for which we sought vision were these:

•        Spiritual: Bible reading, Scripture memory, prayer, heart condition.

•        Physical: Exercise routine, sports activities, health.

•        Character: Two character qualities were focused on.

•        Relational/loving others: Selflessness vs. selfishness, how they handle offenses, discernment in friendships, and ministry involvement.

•        Educational/academic: Course of study, curriculum, who is teaching what?

•        Life skills: Listening, typing, finances, service skills, leadership, etc.

As I listened, we noted how the children had grown in each area so we could compliment and encourage them. I also asked the Lord to show two points in each area where they could improve. Of course, all of the ideas were submitted to God’s Word to make sure all the options were biblically based and fit within the overarching principle of loving God and others. Then we developed goals for the next six months.

Develop a Vision for Marriage

One of the blessings of our time together was my getting her view of my life and priorities as well as her getting to hear my perspective of her life. By the time we finished, Alma and I each had a vision for our own lives in the six areas mentioned above. We discussed areas where we had grown as well as areas in which we needed to grow. This was so helpful! We continue to do this in our lives because of the tremendous growth that comes from living with vision. We have benefited in our marriage, in our ministry to others, and in our relationship with God because we have submitted ourselves to the Lord and to each other. Because we discuss our visions together, and pray and seek the Lord’s wisdom and guidance, we have a basis for unity and direction in our lives that protects us from much division and conflict.

Children must understand and see the vision

Before going home, Alma and I had agreed upon the vision for each member of the family as far as we were concerned. However, our vision concerned more than ourselves. Therefore we met with each child to discuss their vision. We encouraged them in the areas where we had seen growth and advancement. Then we asked their input regarding the six areas mentioned above. Did they think we were on target? Would they like to make any input to the vision? We brainstormed on character projects, who might help them learn specific life skills, relationships they thought needed improvement, the Scripture passages they would study and memorize, books they were going to read, activities, and ministries in which they wanted to participate. When we finished with each one, we were agreed as to the direction we and they were going for the next six months.

Go with the flow

The value of having vision is that it establishes a flow that helps you make decisions. When faced with options or activities that surfaced in the moment, we taught the children to submit themselves to the already agreed upon vision. If it fit within the vision, then it could be considered. If it didn’t, it wasn’t really something to consider–God had already given wisdom for making that decision when He gave the vision. Each Sunday, Alma and I took a few minutes to rehearse the vision and schedule for the week to make sure we didn’t have any conflicts and pray about any changes that needed to be made based on health, stress level, emotional state, and relationship challenges. Our primary goal was to go with the flow of the six month vision.

It’s the direction that counts

Think of where you and your children will be ten to fifteen years down the road if you take small steps each six months. Everyone will mature and grow in the areas where you provide vision. If there is no vision, most people live for themselves. You want to encourage your children to learn to live by vision and realize that vision is a gift from God. It is important not to make your vision a law, but instead, use the vision as a general means of unifying and ordering the next six months’ specific priorities. The specific vision might change, but the general vision doesn’t.

God’s vision is our security

Teaching your children about vision and living according to God’s vision for your lives is important because it provides security. Vision predetermines all action. No one functions without vision. They either adopt the vision of another or they determine their own. Everything flows out of one’s vision. For instance, before an artist even chooses a canvas, much less touches the paint brush to the canvas, the vision is firmly in mind. From the canvas size, to the paint brushes used, to the colors involved–every decision was predetermined by the vision for the painting.

I think vision has such a powerful influence because we are made in God’s image and He functions according to this vision principle. His vision for us predetermines all of His words and actions toward us. Acts 4:27-28 states this principle. “For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur.” The point is that purpose always predetermines actions because it “puts a boundary ahead of time” around the activity. That’s what predestined means. Our confidence and security lie in this wonderful truth: God has predestined us (has a vision for us) to be conformed to the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. Therefore all of His actions and words toward us are predetermined by that vision. Nothing can come to us that doesn’t have the purpose of Christ-likeness as the generating principle. God’s vision for us is the source of our security, and when we go with the flow of His vision, we experience harmony, peace, order, and security.

Lead with vision

Will you lead with vision? I hope so. Although my target audience is men, if you are a wife and mother, you can benefit from running the home and the areas for which you are responsible with vision. Having shared Alma’s and my experiences with developing vision, I hope you will seek God for His vision for your lives. I know He will be faithful to meet you if you seek Him humbly and with an attitude of surrender and faith.

Remember that your direction is important. Perhaps to begin with you won’t be able to do everything you wish, but you can take steps today to seek the Lord for vision for today and then walk in it. Some of you have very important decisions to make, and with vision you can avoid much conflict and destruction in your family. As you experience the benefits of leading with vision in the small things, you’ll want to expand your horizons and trust the Lord for more.

By Norm Wakefield, Spirit of Elijah Ministries

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