In Episode 2: The Economy of Love we meet a pretty remarkable family, The Zwyghuizens. I’m not even going to attempt to phonetically spell out their surname as it will only cause more confusion. Instead, it’s best to refer to Ed, Melanie, Gabe, Christian, and Greta as they are more affectionately known–as “Team Z.” This is the name they have on their family business card.
Yes, you read correctly, they have a family business card.
Their business, however, is not one based onmaterial capital or enterprise. In fact, it’s not even a business at all, per se. It’s a way of life. And sure, you’ll find all their basic contact information on that little 3.5 x 2-inch piece of stock paper, but you’ll also find something a bit more peculiar–the family motto: Loving, Encouraging, Blessing.
Now, let’s pause for a moment and contemplate, shall we? First, what other families do you know (with no traditional ‘family business,’ mind you) who take the time to make a family business card? Second, what other families do you know who take the time to make a family mission statement? (While the practice is on the rise, I still only know of one). And third, what families do you know who take the time to combine a family business card with their mission statement? This is the definition of “Awesome-sauce.” Families would be wise to take note of this behavior, methinks, and put some, if not all, of it into practice.
Back to scheduled programing…
The Team Z motto “Loving, Encouraging, Blessing” is based on 1 Peter 3:8-10:
8 Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 10 For,
“Whoever would love life
and see good days
must keep their tongue from evil
and their lips from deceitful speech.”
It’s a pretty stellar distillation, if you ask me. Team Z has created a foundation to base all their actions and responses, both as individuals and as a family. They have created a vision for the very best their family can be and they’re intentional about living it out. (That’s kind of what a mission statement is all about, isn’t it?) As a result, the family has accomplished some pretty earth-shaking, kingdom-building things–right from their own backyard! From their own swimming pool, even! What those things are, however, I’m not going to tell you because that’s not the point of this missive–sorry–and you can learn more about Team Z by watching the series.
What I want to share with you now, and perhaps what is more applicable to your life and living out the Economy of Love, is how Team Z discovered their mission and motto. You won’t find this in the documentary.
HOW TO “TEAM Z”
The truth behind Team Z’s decision to live a life of love, encouragement, and blessing was not gifted by God in some dramatic parting of the clouds. It did not come in a grand vision or dream or angelic visitation in the night. Ed and Melanie were not sipping sherry by the warm glow of their fireplace and pontificating on the glorious truths found 1 Peter 3:8-10. I’m guessing at that time, off the top of their heads, Ed and Mel had no clue what these verses even said. The truth is Ed and Melanie were struggling to maintain their own sanities and keep their young children (little Gabe, Christian, and Greta) from killing each other. Their flustered solution was to flip to the back of the nearest Bible and search the topical concordance for verses on “Family.” And that’s where they stumbled on Peter’s inspired advice.
I remember first hearing them tell this story and thinking, “The topical concordance!? You had to search the topical concordance for an answer to your problem!? That was your solution!? That’s cheating! I mean, I could do that! All this time, here, I thought you were this super-special, awesomely wise, rockstar Christian family who had all the answers! In reality, you’re normal, everyday people!” Then I paused with the realization, “You’re just like me.”
Isn’t that the way it goes for most of us, most of the time? We think we have to be some kind of spiritual titan BEFORE we can live a profound life. We think we have to have all the answers, the theology, and the strategies in place BEFORE we can build strong families and relationships–strong “anythings,” really. Good theology, answers, and strategies are good things to have, yes. But the truth is, the best place to start is humility, admitting what you don’t know, and turning toward what is True… And, of course, a little bit of desperation never hurts to hasten the process…
What’s more, when Ed and Melanie found 1 Peter 3:8-10 in the back of their Bible, they didn’t just sit with it and allow it to fester. They ran with it. They made it accessible to their entire family. By getting just a wee bit intentional, and boiling down Peter’s call to three simple words–Loving, Encouraging, and Blessing–they allowed God’s missional truth to guide every aspect of life. This simple collective decision not only transformed the home life of Team Z, it spread into their community and the world, and will continue to bear fruit for generations to come.
So, what are we waiting for?!
Learning from Team Z’s experience, it’s clear that living into the Economy of Love and making a difference in our families (be they our spouses and/or children, our communal families, or families of faith) is not rocket science or brain surgery. It’s gleaning the truth of God and intentionally making it an everyday part of our lives.
Let us not become so entirely entangled in the cultural chatter regarding love and the definition of marriage and the state of the modern family that we fail to be a blessing to our neighbors. Let us not fall prey to the desire of C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape, who would love nothing more than for us to waste time not only in conversation we enjoy with people we like, but in conversations with those we care nothing about on subjects that bore [or enrage us]. Let us no longer fall prey to doing nothing at all. (Screwtape Letters, XII).
Let us instead enter into culture, into exile, as families with purpose, vision, mission, and motto. Let us carry them in our hearts and minds, and hang them on the walls of our home. Let us enter into the world knowing full well that small, simple acts of sacrificial love and grace, encouragement, and blessing can can accomplish more than we could ever imagine. Let us remember the words of Mike Metzger from his blog DoggieHeadTilt, “At the end of the day, the best way to make a compelling case for marriage is to make compelling marriages.”
What is true for marriages is true for families. So, let us make compelling marriages. Together, single and married, let us make a compelling family of God. I don’t care if Francis of Assisi said it or not, when it comes to family: “Preach the gospel, and if necessary, use words.”
Let’s get to work.
. . .
For help constructing your own family’s mission statement (I recommend keeping it simple) and why it’s important, here are some links to get you moving in the right direction. Also, I’d love to see and hear what you come up with or what you currently have in place. Let me know how it’s going for you and your family!
Seriously, let’s do this.
http://wearethatfamily.com/2012/11/why-every-family-needs-a-mission-statement-project/ – The above pallet is from this family. I’m gonna do this! If you do it, too, send me pictures!