Zig Ziglar is famous for saying, “If you aim at nothing you will hit it every time.” So, why, when it comes to raising our families, are we so often aiming at nothing?
Years ago, in talking with a mother who had several grown kids who were accomplished speakers, I asked her how that happened. “Is it just a coincidence that they all moved in that direction?” I asked. After sharing stories of the unique and yet similar paths God had led her children down she added, “But I did prepare for them for this from an early age.”
She told me how she was intentional about putting her kids in “comfortably uncomfortable” situations. Even as toddlers, she would encourage them to recite verses or sing songs while standing on the family’s fireplace hearth, their very first “stage”. She took every opportunity to encourage them to sing, pray or speak at church events easing them from the living room to a broader yet familiar audience.
Ultimately, from an early age, she was aiming them at something.
As we walk into a season known for personal goals and resolutions, can we stretch our thinking a little bit wider? Can we ask, what am I aiming my family at?
Here are a few steps to help you answer that question.
Get clear on the end result.
How often do we parent with the end result in mind? Much of the time we do what our parents did or, quite intentionally, the opposite. We do what the families around us do or sometimes, what we feel pressured to do by grandparents. But ultimately we are responsible for leading the children, the family, God has given us. So ask the hard questions and get focused on what exactly you want to aim your family at.
Use your days wisely.
How we spend our minutes is how we spend our days. How we spend our days is how we spend our years. We know this, right? But do we actually live with this in mind? Every parent knows or has been told, our years of raising a family will go faster than we think. And it is true. Daily we are helping aim our kids while our time with them in our home expires. We are teaching them, whether we want to or not, what is worth spending your time on, what is important and what is not.
Think backward from the goal. What matters most to your family and how can you make sure your days, your actions, reflect that?
Do not trade what is immediate for what is important.
We live in a world of urgency. Our consumption of content, access to information and propensity for distraction is at an entirely new level. We must not trade what is urgent for what is important. The urgent will always be there. But that end result, that is what is important.
Trade the good for the best.
My greatest disillusionment in parenting may very well be this – there are so many good things. I thought I would be fighting off the bad and trying to choose the good for my family, but it often looks more like fighting off the good for best. Sports are good, as are fine arts. Church programs are good, as is serving your community. Traveling is good, as are family hike and picnics. But we simply cannot do it all. Looking at all of these things in light of what we are aiming for helps us filter the good from the best.
As a healthy direction that brings clarity to what we value, family goals serve us very well. They help us live and plan with intention. They help us number our days and spend our time wisely. But ultimately, we don’t serve goals or outcomes. On our own and as a family we seek to serve Christ. The most courageous thing we will ever do is offer all of our hopes, dreams and yes, even our goals for our family, up to Him. Pray fervently that He will lead you, that you will listen and follow in the year ahead. And let your family watch you do that. Leading by example is always a great way of aiming.
So, what is your family aiming at?
Katie Westenberg is a wife and mother to four, who is passionate about fighting fear and living brave. Married for 15 years, she lives in Washington state, enjoying life outside the city limits and any adventures that involve friends and family. She writes at IChooseBrave.com encouraging women to fear God and live brave.