Purposeful Planning
Purposeful Planning: A Review

I think most of us get reflective this time of year. A lot of us make resolutions with good intentions. A lot fewer do it with a real sense of purpose, aiming not only to resolve but to actually set things in place to make it happen.

About sixteen years ago, Phyllis Sather’s husband came to her and suggested the two of them take a few days off “and set some goals” for their family. Phyllis admits she wasn’t enthusiastic. With three young children, a major home rennovation planned, and a four year old just diagnosed with leukemia,

the thought of that sounded appalling to me.  Setting goals meant you had to meet them, didn’t it? I was in “survival” mode, barely making it through each day. The thought of all that failure was just too much for me at that time of my life.

Against her fears, she agreed to the idea. Much to her surprise, the exercise was so beneficial and enjoyable, she suggested they do it again the next year and bring the kids along. Since then the “Annual Planning Weekend” has become an anticipated family event, coming a mid-winter vacation with time for personal reflection, dreaming, and relationship building. How do you make this happen? You can start by reading her newly revised e-book Purposeful Planning.

Purposeful PlanningThe timing couldn’t be better for us. We set aside a few hours every New Year to discuss what the Lord’s done for us the past twelve months, and where we should be heading for the next twelve (we wrote about it here). We don’t leave home to do it, so I was curious if the Sathers’ experience would adapt to our own family’s practice.

In short, it does, and Purposeful Planning offers a lot more.

Phyllis acknowledges our tendency to be overwhelmed by things which are urgent rather than preparing and completing the things which are most important. To get a better handle on their family life, she and her husband Dan developed a list of areas where they wanted to focus attention and resources. Phyllis shares several lists of questions they consider about their relationship as a couple, the personal and spiritual growth of both parents and children; the state of their homeschooling, and their financial health.

A couple of interesting insights is their discussion about their house. Rather than asking how to make their home more comfortable for themselves or build up resale value, they consider it as a place for ministry, and ask what changes will make it more useful for hospitality and other outreach.  That recognizes our house shouldn’t be a temple to our prosperity but a gift of God’s provision, and a tool for use in His kingdom.

There doesn’t seem to be significant mention of Dan’s career planning outside the home. I expect he deals with that elsewhere, and reserves this time for family matters. I’ve come to realize myself, though, that outside employment for the most part is the thing we do to provide for the truly important ministry God gives us in our family and other relationships.

Purposeful Planning is a great collection of ideas which will help you really think about where you’re heading as a family, rather than bouncing from one crisis to another and hoping for the best. You’ll also find useful ideas about family vacations, ways to improve your leisure time, and encouragement to have celebrations  which really make a difference in your family life.

Plus if you order it now, you have time to start planning while the New Year is fresh!

Phyllis Sather’s Purposeful Planning is available direct from the author (the best way!), right here.

Toward A More Godly, Family-Building New Year – how we celebrate with purpose
Counting Our Days – the value of keeping a journal, and some ways to make it easy