This month at the Cory Center we’re focusing on keeping our family and personal life healthy. With that in mind I want to share something that our family did a number of years ago that has helped us avoid the insane pace that life wants us to run. It’s also helped us know when to say no.

First my wife and I made a list, separately, of adjectives and activities that we thought described our family. We then compared the lists and brought our children into the conversation by asking them what they liked to do and what they thought the family liked to do. I don’t recall the exact phrase but we came up with something like:

“We are a Christian family that home schools their children, wants to have deep friendships, and enjoys spending time together by playing board games and going to zoos. We are passionate about reading and love to spend time at the library.”

When we would go out there were times that we would pass by a used book store and everyone would want to stop – because we’re book lovers. As the head of the family, I’d be concerned because I knew that stopping meant buying. If we had already eaten out, I would be conflicted between what I enjoy and what I thought we could afford.

After coming up with the “who we are” statement it gave words to my conflict and my wife and I were able to talk about our spending priorities. Thereafter we changed our habits to focus on the things we liked to be about rather than get caught in the tide of what was easy to do.

Knowing who we are has helped us in vacation planning, in being able to say no to things that are good but would take up time, and has de-stressed our lives. As a pastor, knowing when to say no is an important ability.

Hope this helps as you think about what you’ll do this holiday season and as you plan your upcoming year.