By Kendra Roehl
Do you want to be on a family mission together? Here are three ways I’ve used to build a mission with my family.
My Story of a Family Mission
Several years ago, one of our children handed me a list for Christmas…in October. The page was covered, front and back, with items they hoped to receive as presents. When I showed my husband, we realized we needed to do something about the commercialization of Christmas in our home.
Together with a group of friends, we decided to shift the focus of the holiday from ourselves to others by looking for ways to incorporate kind acts into our days. We intentionally sought organizations doing good locally, nationally, and internationally.
That year, we made cookies for our neighbors, bought gifts for homeless shelters in our community, donated food to the food shelf, and bought medical supplies for refugees, among other small daily acts of kindness in our home.
We saw such a shift in our family’s focus from “us” to “others” that we began to look for more ways throughout the year to serve. What started as a concern that our kids were becoming too selfish became a catalyst that still drives our family today.
3 Ways to Be on a Family Mission
Here are a few ways we work together to be on mission as a family:
- Make it a goal for each family member to show one kind act per week.
In our home, this can mean simply opening the door for someone, offering a warm greeting, or inviting someone new to sit at your lunch table. Kind acts don’t need to be elaborate. They are more about getting in the habit of noticing others and thinking about what we can do to assist or brighten their day.
At the end of the week, each family member shares what they did. You can try it for a month, six weeks, or whatever seems reasonable for your family. Have everyone write down what they’ve done each week to keep track. At the end of the time period, have a celebration and talk about how it made every family member feel to show kindness to others.
- Start conversations with your family about community and world issues.
Over the years, we’ve discussed homelessness and hunger, abuse and poverty in our family. As our kids have grown, their interest in the world around them has grown as well.
One way we’ve seen this is through our 11-year-old son, who is passionate about helping people obtain clean drinking water. His enthusiasm for this issue has made it valuable to the rest of our family, as well.
Sharing issues and needs with our children has helped them become more compassionate in their approach to the world.
- At least once a year, work as a family to meet a need.
After we have conversations about needs in our community, we then ask our kids what we should do to help. We want our kids to not just notice the needs of others but feel empowered to do something to help.
Some things we’ve done as a family are to “adopt” foster kids through our county who would otherwise not receive Christmas gifts, donate school supplies to a school in need and help serve meals at a local shelter. We’ve found that giving can happen any time of year, and there are always organizations that are looking for volunteers.
Since we’ve started incorporating these three tips, we’ve found our kids often take the lead on finding people they want to help or serve.
It’s not always perfect. There have certainly been times when kids grumbled or things didn’t turn out like we’d hoped. But often, our kids remember what it feels like to serve someone else. They know that as a family our unified mission is to love God and love others. And these three tips are a practical way that we go about doing just that.
Wife Step: Talk with your husband and family and pick one way that you can start to go on mission together.
Do it afraid. Kendra Roehl has sought to live out that advice as a social worker, foster parent, mother of five, public speaker and author. Kendra and her husband have become well-known advocates for foster care, taking in over 20 children in six years, and adopting three of them. She continues to care for others on their journeys as a frequent speaker, a founder of The Ruth Experience and an author of several books, including the One Year Daily Acts of Friendship: 365 Days to Finding, Keeping, and Loving Your Friends. You can find her on Instagram and Facebook @theruthexperience