What Is YOUR Family’s Mission?


Here is a an article I wrote for an Army newsletter. Enjoy.
I WILL ALWAYS PLACE THE MISSION FIRST. It’s the first line of the Warrior’s Ethos. Soldiers know it. They live it. And whose mission is it? The Commander’s mission. The Commander’s intent. It’s what makes the world go ‘round in the Soldier’s unit. The mission is planned, discussed, and dispersed to the Soldiers. The Soldiers then train on the mission. They rehearse the mission. They prepare to execute the mission. They execute the mission. They complete the mission. They evaluate the mission. They make suggestions to the Commander for changes to the mission. And then the Commander sets forth the updated mission. It’s a clear cut process. But it is necessary for us to accomplish the work of the Army.

The Commander tells the Soldiers each week at the closeout safety brief to “have a plan” and execute that plan. To have a safe plan for fun with the family and then execute. So just what is YOUR family’s plan? More specifically, what is YOUR family’s mission? It must be more than the Commander’s mission. Why? Because the entire family is not in uniform. The Army is the largest part of the Soldier’s life but it isn’t all of the Soldier’s life. As a Chaplain I would add that it isn’t the most important part of a Soldier’s life. Want proof? What happens when a Soldier is deployed and something serious happens to an immediate family member that jeopardizes the health and safety of that family member? Watch how fast the Red Cross responds with a message to that Soldier, and see how fast that Soldier is headed back on emergency leave to family. The Army places an EXTREMELY HIGH importance on the family. What importance does the Soldier place on his or her family?

Importance placed on the family is a start in forming the family mission, but there is much more. In the Army, a Commander’s mission means a course of action. And that action generally is to protect and serve. It is two-fold. How does your family protect and serve? The Soldier should always be sure official documents and records are in order and that family needs are met, utilizing all the resources the Army has to offer. But don’t forget to utilize other resources, such as civilian agencies, relatives, and worship places. That covers the protection.

But what about an action plan for your family to serve? My challenge to you and your family is to have a clear discussion with your spouse about what your family’s values are. What do you believe? What is most important to your family? What do you want to teach your children? What activities do you want them to engage in? I also challenge you to think about how your family can be of service to others in need. How does service to others in need fit your family’s mission? Who is your family’s “Commander?” The Soldier? The spouse? Both of you together? A Higher Power such as God? How are your family’s decisions made? And how can your protected family use its strength and resources to serve and assist others?

Today I had a Soldier come to me to ask how his family can help another Soldier’s family in need. Seems they decided to upgrade their Christmas decorations this year. Rather than selling their old ones or simply tossing them out, they want to give them to a Soldier’s family who could use them. THAT is what I mean! How does your family’s mission include service to others? This holiday season is more about giving than receiving. Teaching our children to be grateful for what they have is easier when they are actively engaged in helping others less fortunate. Teach the family members by example, to serve others as described in your mission.

And just as the Commander writes out his or her mission in the form of operational orders, families should write their mission down. At least a clear mission statement. I have seen some mission statements that were very brief and others that were longer. Some families embroidered them and hung them on the wall, or printed them up on nice certificate paper and had everyone sign it, and hang it in a frame. Some mission statements were original and others borrowed from other sources. One family mission statement I particularly like is from the Bible. Joshua announced that “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” What is your family’s mission? What is your family’s mission statement? I challenge you to formulate one this holiday season. I challenge you to train your family members on it. To rehearse it. To implement it. And to discuss it afterwards to see what changes need to be made. Because one day, the Soldier will remove the uniform for the final time and then focus solely on the family mission. Why not get an early start?


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