By Alicia Searl, Crosswalk.com
Does your family have a list of values, standards, and expectations you strive to live by? Maybe it is a family motto, a few phrases, or particular Bible verses that are often said to help lead and direct your family. Why is this important, you may ask? Valid question. Why I can’t speak for everyone, I can tell you how having a list of values has shaped our own family.
When my husband and I became parents sixteen years ago, we needed as much help as we could get. We had a fussy baby that no matter how hard we tried, we could not sooth, and financial burdens were putting a strain on our marriage, causing fear to abound and tension to ensue. My sweet hubby kept saying no matter how hard this is, we must find joy. We clung to that and did our very best to seek out the joy in that season. But, it was often in those late nights when I was utterly exhausted and crying out to God in a voice only a mother could understand that God showed up, tenderly touching my heart, showing how the burdens I carried as a new mom could collide with joy. So, while choosing joy didn’t come easily, God made it possible.
As our family has grown, we have taken on more values and changed or adopted new phrases to meet certain seasons of our lives. Understanding what we wanted for our family has always been important to us, but placing those values in our home in a tangible way has made it all the more meaningful. Having a list of values shows our children that while we may all fail and mess up from time to time, we are still called to do our best to build a Christ-centered home – together.
In our home, our values tend to revolve around three key attributes: love, identity, and joy.
-Always Show Love (John 15:12, Luke 6:31, Corinthians 16:14)
-Remember Who You Are and Who You Follow (2 Corinthians 5:17, Romans 5:8, Galatians 4:7, Psalms 139:14)
-Choose Joy (Psalm 16:11, Philippians 4:4, Romans 15:13)
So, does your family need a list of values? Still wondering if it is a good fit for your family? Well, then read on and find out why it may be valuable, and discover a few values you may want to implement in your own home.
1. Values Set the Tone and Environment of Our Homes
We Will Serve the Lord
How would you describe the environment in your home? Is there evidence that God is moving in your life and the lives of your children? How do you know? These are essential questions to answer as you decide on values that will meet your family's needs because, just as our families are continually growing and changing, our values must also be flexible. Now, hear me out; this is not to say that the values themselves change, as values based on God’s Word are true and constant, bringing peace, hope, comfort, and love. But, as our family changes, our values should reflect that.
So, as you create values for your family, here is what you need to know: YOU set the tone and environment of your home. It all begins in the confines of your home. If your family needs to reset and needs a fresh start, pray and seek God’s wisdom and discernment. Then cultivate an atmosphere that is welcoming and inviting for your family and, more importantly, a space that shows that your household serves the Lord (Joshua 24:15). As parents, we must be the first to first to temper our own thoughts, pause before we speak, and consider how our actions affect others.
We can also promote a healthy, spiritually inviting home with simple and subtle changes such as playing praise and worship music, lighting festive candles that bring in a soft glow, and being servant-minded by helping clean bedrooms, fold clothes, or prep a favorite meal.
So, what tone do you want to set for your home? Start by cultivating it now; it is never too late.
2. Values Allow for Every Family Member to Get Involved
We Are All Part of God’s Family
If we want our homes to display love, joy, and grace, we need to open up and have conversations about it. Sit down with your family and share how vital it is that each family member plays a part in contributing to a home rich in God’s love.
When our daughters were younger, we sat down with them and talked about some Scriptures that we felt needed to lead our family, then allowed them to share what they thought. At that time, our family focused on being kind and generous, so our values echoed that in our mottos of “Kindness Counts” and “Love One Another.” As they have grown older, we’ve placed more emphasis on their identity and how their choices should reflect Who they follow. Now, when I drop them off at a friend’s house or school event, all I have to say is, “Remember who you are…” and they complete it with, “And Who you follow.” Sure, it may come with an eye roll or groan (they are teens, after all), but as far as I’m concerned, it is still penetrating their hearts.
What values does your family currently need to implement? Take a moment to hold a family meeting and discuss what your family needs in order to grow closer together and closer to God.
3. Values Ultimately Keep Us Accountable
Moved By Love
Let me be clear here. There is a distinct difference between standards and expectations. Standards are those unspoken rules, generally accepted as “the norm,” used to help us carry out our actions and as a basis for our judgments. They are essentially the core of our being, a gauge, if you will, of what we measure ourselves by. Expectations, on the other hand, are what we impose on others. It comes with how we “expect” others to react, behave, and conduct themselves in certain situations.
As parents and believers, you can see how these can get intermingled and become quite messy. So, we need to be clear with our children about what we expect from them and, more importantly, the certain behaviors and mannerisms that God expects from them, such as obedience (Ephesians 6:1-3), integrity (Proverbs 11:3), modesty (1 Timothy 2:9-10), and honesty (2 Corinthians 8:21) to name a few. The fruits of the spirit are a good place to start when teaching expected behavior motivated by love (Galatians 5:22-23).
When we place values around our home, it embeds those standards within the walls of our hearts, helping lead and guide our decisions as we seek God for wisdom. Expectations allow us to communicate our standards with one another and safely form boundaries so we can lean into those values and hold each other accountable.
How are your values keeping each family member accountable for their choices and actions?
4. Values Give Us the Opportunity to Share God’s Love
Share God’s Goodness
Do you have an open-door policy? Hospitality may come as second nature or bring on a tinge of terror, especially when an unexpected visitor stops by and you have laundry sprawled all across your couch. Ugh. All that aside, though, teaching our children that our homes are welcome and open to anybody and everybody sends a loud and clear message to our children. It says we love everyone!
When it comes to spreading God’s love, we must push past our insecurities and the worries that come with our messy houses and aim to be a light. Matthew 5:14-16 tells us to be like a city on a hill, where the light glows so brightly everyone can see through it, and the actions of Christ’s love are on display. Wow! I don’t know about you, but that is rather convicting. Especially when the momma bear in me comes out, and it isn’t pretty. I can tell you I would not want that on display. But the beauty about striving to live the way Matthew 5:14-16 commands us to is that it forces us to shift our focus. It calls us to harness our own actions and turn them into loving others, both inside and outside our homes.
When we welcome others into our home, it creates space for God to enter into our conversations, softening our hearts and doing work in theirs as well. The opportunities to spread the gospel are endless, if we just open our hearts and homes.
Is your home a place where people from all walks of life are welcome? How can you make it that way and train your children to be welcoming as well?
5. Values Help Connect with Our Family in a Deeper Way
Fully Known and Deeply Loved
God’s design for family is simple. It is to experience His amazing love and to share that with others. However, in all honestly, sometimes the most difficult people to love are the little darlings that reside under the same roof. Living with people 24/7 can surely test every bit of our patience, am I right?
That is why it is so important to establish Christian values that line up with God’s Word in our homes. It creates a space to love and forgive freely. When we value one another, we learn to honor and respect each other’s standards and boundaries and aim to listen attentively to one another’s needs. It provides a safe place to be fully known and deeply loved.
As we discuss values in our homes, it can easily open up dialogue to discuss deeper, more intimate things that may be weighing heavy on your child’s heart. From struggles at school or with friends to battling inner emotions or insecurities, putting values in place reminds them that they have a safety net with you and that you can seek God for answers together. This also reassures your spouse as you face battles within your marriage. Being fully known and deeply loved is truly invaluable.
Are you investing in each relationship in your home?
And there you have it, my friend. The reasons why we use values in our home to lead and direct us as parents and strive to etch God’s love in our children’s hearts. While this takes time to build upon and will come with a unique set of challenges as your family grows, seek God and pray for wisdom – let Him take the lead and reveal values that will grow your family.