Three things have converged recently to impact how I view my role as a father (and husband), raising kids with my wife. First, as a result of reading the book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, I went back and re-wrote my personal vision and mission statements. Second, this past weekend on a trip to the bookstore with my family (man I love a good book was a phrase I could be heard saying all throughout this trip), I picked up and started reading a new book Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson one of my favorite orators and social justice advocates. Third, yesterday in church our pastor talked about the power of the local church to influence and save lives. #strongchurch #strongnation. This is something I’ve recently been thinking more a lot about, since we’ve now joined a small group and I’m looking to get more involved in service and missions with our family.
Getting Clear on My Personal Vision and Mission
For me, this is a no brainer. I already begin and end my day with some sort of reflection about progress, and the act of putting into writing the bar that I’m daily holding myself up against was cathartic. I’ve written personal vision and mission statements before, but each time I get a little clearer about who I am, what my purpose is, and how to get there. It’s an inspiring process that I encourage everyone, especially those responsible for raising kids. I’m a firm believer that if we’re intentional about our lives, then our kids will be intentional about theirs. For those curious, my personal mission centers around being a life changing husband, father, and leader to those in my personal orbit. With that as a my bar, and personal values like growth, reflection, faith, and loyalty as my anchors, I daily evaluate the progress of my decisions and actions against this question: how effectively did I lead myself, my family, and others today?
Understanding the impact of #strongchurch
For me, growing up in a local church transformed my life, mostly because of the foundation and preventative care that it provided. I grew up knowing that I had a purpose in life, that all people have God given value, that I am created to love and be loved by God and others. These are principles that were explicitly taught to me by my parents, and reinforced through the activities of my local church who served as partners in raising me into adulthood. Just like no person is perfect, neither is any one church, but that’s also kind of the point. The gathering of believers together to grow as believers (hence the purpose of the church) isn’t about perfection, it’s about growth. My strong foundation being raised as a churchgoer is what’s responsible for my life’s orientation around learning and growing. This in and of itself is an invaluable legacy to pass on to my children.
Anyone who has ever heard Mr. Stevenson speak knows that this man has stories to tell for days. What’s most impressive though is his sense of hope and optimism in the face of really difficult circumstances. At the beginning of his book he talks about starting his career as a law student hopeless adrift, until he found his way to his purpose. Even the title, just mercy strikes a cord with me because we all need a partner, someone or something bigger than ourselves to help us find ourselves. My entire life I’ve grown up knowing and understanding what it means to be the beneficiary of grace. Mercy is a bit different from grace. Most people are ok with the idea of grace being extended by a benevolent God who cares about us all equally. But mercy, just mercy, is a desperate plea for love, forgiveness, help, care, and grace when no one (perhaps not even yourself), thinks you deserve it. I’ve come to believe that everyone makes mistakes, myself included, and the truest test of all our characters is how we respond after the mistake.
With these lessons in mind, as I’ve said before leadership is more caught than taught. My aim is to model these principles with my own life, and as I do so, start a conversation with my daughters about why they’re important as they begin to adopt their own.