Near my house are two restaurants. The first is the Golden China restaurant. I love Chinese food and this one is pretty good, however, I would never dine in there. The service is terrible! The waitress, presumably the owner’s wife, never smiles, and even online line reviews note the awesome food but the poor service.
The second restaurant is Chick-fil-A. Besides good food, as everyone knows, they have the service to match. When I lived in Grapevine, TX, the boys and I would go just about every week to escape our apartment. They loved the chicken nuggets and play area, and I loved that as soon as I walked in the door, the wait staff would rush to help me get the boys settled. What a relief!
Both of those restaurants have a distinct culture. I’m guessing that Golden China has taken little to no time to consider the culture they are displaying to their customers. On the other hand, it’s well know the time and investment Chick-fil-A spends on cultivating a welcoming, customer oriented culture in their chain of restaurants. It’s to the point that no matter which Chick-fil-A you walk into–Texas, Oklahoma, Ohio–you can expect the same great service.
The same needs to be said of our homes. Do we have an intentional family culture that gives life to our families and those who we meet, or do we have an unhealthy culture that sucks the life right out of them?
As I thought about the culture of my home, I thought about the values I want my kids to leave our home with. But then God tapped me on the shoulder and remind me that I wasn’t to do this planning alone. God and my husband needed to be involved.
Before we can even begin to be intentional, we need to remember it all begins with God. We need to seek Him and His wisdom first. But it is so easy to forget!
Make me to know your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long…Who is the man who fears the LORD? Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose. ~ Psalms 25: 4-5, 12, ESV
You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, LORD, do I seek.” ~ Psalms 27:8, ESV
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. ~ Psalms 32:7, ESV
The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD…Commit your way to the LORD, and your plans will be established…The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps. ~ Prov. 16:1, 3, and 9, ESV
I need God’s wisdom before I begin, because the plan He has for my family will look different than the one He has for yours. Both can be good and life giving while we live them out in different ways.
After we’ve asked God for guidance, then we can sit down with our spouse and kids (if they’re old enough) and talk about the values and character traits we would like for our family to have. What culture do we want our families to have?
Some values and characteristics might be:
- Daily Relationship with God
- Love God and Love others
- Respect for themselves and others
- Servant Leaders
- Hard work
In the list we need to included actions so we can help teach these values to our kids and make these values part of our family culture. Some ideas for a LOVE list might look like this:
- Live God’s love out loud to our family and others
- Daily point out how He loves us
- Live his love in my own actions through speaking life giving words
- Verbalize when we’re loving and serving others like He did
- Be present and listen
- Actively listen to to my children–make eye contact, repeat back what I hear
- Don’t think about other things while I’m supposed to be listening (I’m really bad about rarely being fully present)
- Ask open questions and listen to the answers
- Family dinner at least 2 times a week
As you can see this isn’t just a list of ideas, we want to give actions to each part. The list is measurable ways we will work toward building the value of Love into our family’s cultures.
As I began to make lists of values I saw that in some ways we’re already living these values in our home. Others we need to be more intentional about if we want to instill that value in our children. I also learned strong family cultures don’t happen by accident. Just like Chick-fil-A’s awesome service, strong family cultures are the result of thoughtful and specific actions. As you think about the family culture you’re building today, these steps can help you begin to be intentional about the culture you’re communicating to your family and friends:
- Praying about it. Ask God to guide you while you plan.
- As a family list the values and you want for your family
- Make a list of actions you can take to live out those values
- Choose one or two actions associated with each value and begin living them out
- Choose more value actions every month or so as the others begin to become habits
- Reevaluate your values and actions at least once a year to make sure you’re on the right track
A family culture is not built or changed over night. But as we begin to be intentional about the culture we want to cultivate in our homes, it will slowly begin to change until it becomes a natural and instinctive part of our everyday lives, giving life to our families and those around us.
A side note…if your spouse is not open to talking about the culture of your family, don’t let that keep you from it. Don’t get angry, just continue to pray for them and then go on ahead with God’s leadership. Planning the direction of your family is so important to your success as a parent. Don’t let it get lost.