Culture is a funny thing. It can make you chase bulls or hang up socks once a year, leave food at the cemetery or throw a tree. Nations have cemented certain customs that depict who they are as a people, and the sheer diversity of it all is breathtaking.
I’ve recently encountered the concept of family culture: the mix of rituals, rules, habits, and priorities unique to each household that creates a distinct group identity. Every family has one whether they try to or not. Now that Riley and I are parents of a three-month-old, we figured it would be a good time to sit down and hammer ours out, starting with the values we feel best reflect who we want to become together. Here are the results, along with some ideas for putting them into practice.
In our home, we
Because God created us for a purpose, we want to live intentionally, not accidentally. Dreaming big looks like setting individual and family goals every year, feeding our imaginations, clarifying our own callings, creating vision boards, working through seasonal bucket lists, encouraging adventurous thinking, holding weekly meetings to schedule/budget/adjust needs, and frequently assessing our priorities.
Because God wrapped His heart in flesh and walked among us, we want to mimic that heart to one another. Embodying love looks like speaking with kindness and respect, outdoing one another in showing honor, being quick to listen, fighting toward one another, offering our presence, weeping and rejoicing together, being generous with our affection, and speaking one another’s love language.
invest in life-giving rhythms
Because God intends us to thrive, we want to steward ourselves and our family well. Investing in life-giving rhythms looks like prioritizing spiritual self care (sabbath, prayer, worship, Bible reading, etc.), physical self care (diet, exercise, sleep, fresh air, etc.), emotional self care (fun time, counseling, unplugged days, etc.), relational self care (date nights, family dinners, porch time, etc.), and mental self care (reading, learning, discussing, etc.).
pour into others
Because God is passionate about His mission moving forward, we want to partner in kingdom work that has an eternal impact. Pouring into others looks like strategically engaging in ministry through counseling, discipling, coaching, connecting, giving, praying, planning, and blogging/preaching.
make room for joy
Because God is the ultimate Source of delight, we want to build a constant awareness of His smile over us in even the smallest pleasures. Making room for joy looks like laughing easily, initiating silliness, planning worry-free days, photographing bright moments, offsetting hard things, and protecting against moodiness.
rest well, work hard, and play often
Because God demonstrated these three patterns in His creation of the world, we want to weave them into the fabric of our lives. Resting well looks like getting plenty of quality sleep, limiting screen time, and guarding regular sabbaths. Working hard looks like having project days, following through on commitments, taking ownership, and marking our efforts with excellence. Playing often looks like scheduling getaways, adventures, seasonal bucket lists, and movie nights.
infuse every day with the gospel
Because God has authored a grand story—creation, fall, redemption, restoration—from before the foundations of the world, we want to walk worthy of His invitation to be a part of it. Infusing every day with the gospel looks like displaying our favorite printable tools around the house, using a redemption bell, incorporating Every Moment Holy liturgies, becoming gospel experts (by watching sermons, reading books, listening to podcasts, etc.), and rehearsing God’s big story in our smaller ones.
help one another win
Because God has planted unique dreams in each of our hearts, we want to champion cheering those dreams on to victory. Helping one another win looks like knowing each family member’s goals, anticipating needs, celebrating milestones, providing accountability, lending strength, and encouraging growth.
believe the Word
Because God breathed out truth and handed it to us, we want to make much of Scripture in our hearts and minds. Believing the Word looks like engaging in personal study, clinging to specific promises, creating monthly focus truths on our chalkboard, meditating and memorizing, holding family devotions, practicing what we learn, and building doctrines together.
cultivate beauty and light
Because God leads us to dwell on whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy, we will behold what we wish to become. Cultivating beauty and light looks like caring for our home, filtering media content, making beautiful things, filling our minds with inspiration, banishing gloom, and appreciating the wonders in the world around us.
Because God lavishes His favor on us regardless of what we deserve, we want to extend that generosity of heart to one another. Practicing grace looks like assuming the best, going the extra mile, overlooking offenses when possible, providing a safe space to make mistakes, forgiving quickly, and guarding ourselves against legalism, perfectionism, and our own rightness.
celebrate the movement of God
Because God is constantly working out redemption in and around us, we want to increase our quickness to praise Him for even the smallest hint of His active presence. Celebrating the movement of God looks like regularly expressing gratitude, sharing stories in person and on social media, being intentional with birthday blessings, rock piling, and singing the doxology every night after we name the day’s gifts.
To be perfectly honest, this seems like a bit much at the outset, and the prospect of building such lofty ideals into the practical stuff of everyday life can be slightly overwhelming (especially when all we really want right now is a good nap). But we feel the need to shape the culture that will shape us rather than looking back and realizing we missed one of our biggest opportunities.
Since there are twelve values, we’ve agreed to tackle a new one each month next year. We’ll be reading books, watching movies, memorizing verses, and finding other activities that showcase whichever value we’re on, and I’ll blog about the experience as we go.
Until then, I’d love to know: what kinds of things are a big deal in your family culture?