“As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” 

We’ve heard this so often, perhaps inscribed on plaques we hang in our homes, but what do we really mean when we say it? 

For Joshua in Scripture, these words were bold and declarative. He was throwing down the gauntlet in a loving but firm challenge to the Israelites. Having launched four young people into the academic and working world recently, I am pondering how to live this out fully in my vocation as wife and mother. How can I guide my family to claim this as part of our identity?

Thanks to the Beatles, we are reminded that “all we need is love,” but experience tells me there is more to walking fully into the woman or man God has called us to be. We must realize that raising our families is a mission. 

“Mission” is a strong word. It means to go out into the world (outside our comfortable family home) and spread the love and joy of being in a relationship with Jesus Christ. We must turn to the Lord and ask Him to help us identify the unique gifts He has given us, both individually and as a family. What is the unique mission for our family, our “domestic Church”? Then we need to go out and live it fully.  

What unique gifts have been given to your family, and how do you use them? Social media has its negatives, but I love reading people’s stories and seeing them on mission. For example, the friends who sponsor blood drives because their lives have been impacted by the need for this resource, or the family whose kids you see playing sports but when in the stands with other parents, they are supportive, encouraging and building community.

How do you bring Jesus into those conversations? How do you share your story? You might not call it mission, but that is what you are doing – living out the gifts you have been given. Families just need the mental switch flipped on to recognize who we have been created to be is now a realization of what we are called to do.  

Imagine how much focus and clarity could be brought to our lives if everything we did each day was with that focus. It puts purpose into our words, actions and thoughts. 

 My family’s mission is simply to welcome. We try to welcome in the stranger and call them friend, whether in our home, at the grocery store, on the street corner or in the doctor’s office. Knowing that is who we are gives us an identity and a purpose, and over the years we have thrived and been blessed in living it.

As my family does a reset examining who God is calling us to be and how we can use those gifts more fully, I realize that love is the foundation of that. However, being intentional in living out virtues within our mission is the actual structure we are building. It is the offering we give to the Lord. 

With lenses attuned to our mission, we speak charitably to others and extend mercy often. Compassion is paramount, and we humbly allow ourselves to be the vessels in the situations God places us. This model of life is a life lived fully, arms wide open, for Jesus. 

Reflecting back on that passage from Joshua, I am struck by the certainty and boldness in Joshua’s voice. “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” In a time of temptation to worship false Gods and return to old ways of living, Joshua’s declaration to the Israelites is a bold flag stuck into the ground placing his family on mission. 

In his papal letter to us, Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis leads like Joshua by sharing how God has called him into living a life on mission. He says, “I am a mission on this earth; that is the reason why I am here in this world. We have to regard ourselves as sealed, even branded, by this mission of bringing light, blessing, enlivening, raising, healing and freeing.”

Take a moment this season, as many begin anew with school, to reflect on the gifts your family has. Look at each family member and perhaps ask them what they think their gifts are. Point out the ones you see in them. Elevate the life your family is living by elevating it to the level  of being on mission. What are ways you can go out and live love on mission? 

This post first appeared at The Catholic Times and CatholicMom.com.

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