3 ways to raise kids with a mission

3 ways to raise kids with a mission
Written by Jamie Martin of Simple Homeschool

“The first time I really thought about what I wanted to do in life was a few months before high school graduation.”

My mom spoke those words on a recent visit, after reading through the kids’ compasses we’d completed in our homeschool.

She was impressed that her grandchildren, at ages nine, ten, and eleven, could articulate possibilities for their future–and that they recognized the way their lives could reach and touch others.

Shortly after Mom left last week I got a text message from her: “Could you email me more info about that compass? I’d like to do one myself!”


Schooling Without a Mission

I think many of us can relate to my mom’s initial sentiment. After all, our modern-day school system does not typically begin with the end in mind, or if it does, it’s an end that some stranger has determined is right for us.

The number one goal of institutionalized schooling is skills acquisition. Each student must acquire certain abilities–the building blocks of learning. How to read, how to write, how to calculate.

Sit down and work on it each day–drill until you get it.

And not a word (or many) about the why…about the what…about the who cares?

I can’t help but think this is backwards. We’ve neglected to teach and inspire with a mission first, giving a reason and a framework for the skills that follow.

We’ve raised a generation that can physically write, read, and do math–but doesn’t want to do any of it.


We’ve handed them the nails, hammers, screws, boards, and bricks, but they aren’t able to get on with the construction of their lives. And without a vision for the beautiful creation they have the power to build, what good are the tools?

What if we did it the other way around? What if we gave children a vision for the big picture of life…before we ever passed out the pencils? What if we raised kids with a mission?

If this concept sounds vague, here are three ways to approach mission-minded living at home–no matter where your kids go to school.


1. Talk mission.

Do your kids, young or old, know that they have a unique and valuable purpose in this world? Speak this out so often that it grows deep roots in your child’s soul.

My main goal and prayer for my children is that they find and follow hard after God’s purpose for their lives.

They know, because of how often we discuss it, that greatness lies in touching the lives of others–and that they could do so from the back of a garbage truck or as the president of a country.

Ways to talk mission:

  • Create a family or educational manifesto that you read at the start of each week. Every Monday we read this or this in our homeschool.
  • When your children mention a potential career interest, always point to the ways it could touch the lives of others. Don’t hover over how much money a child might make or the logistics of a job, especially at first. Use your words to make mission the focus.
  • When you hear an inspiring story about someone who acted for the good of others, point it out to your kids: “Look how they followed their mission even when it meant risking their lives.”


2. Read mission.

Stories well-chosen speak to and transform the soul. When we as parents feel stressed over a certain skill that our children struggle with, we contribute more to their future success if we take their pain seriously, back down for a bit, and read stories about overcomers.

Ways to read mission:


3. Live mission.

Nothing encourages our kids more than someone who models a lifestyle of mission and purpose. And guess who the most important someone is–you!

Do you feel like you know what your purpose is and what you’re doing to reach it?

Ways to live mission:

  • Mission isn’t always about having some lofty, far-reaching goal. Often it isn’t about what we do, but how. Completing our daily activities with intention and reaching out to those God puts in our path–faithfulness in small things equals a life of purpose.
  • Our own study and self-care are just as important to a life of mission as time set aside to serve. We can’t give ourselves fully to our mission if we aren’t growing ourselves. And we certainly can’t help others if we’re on the edge of burnout.
  • It’s true that at this time in our lives, a huge part of our mission is raising our own children. And as we consider the big picture we’ll be able to love them more deeply, speak their unique love language, and eventually send them out the door better equipped to fulfill their mission in a world that needs them.

Kids with a mission have goals. They know their life matters, so they get busy learning the important skills (writing, reading, math) they will need to reach their highest calling.

Children with potential live under our roofs. Kids with a mission are unstoppable. Let’s make mission, instead of mere skills, our first aim–then stand back and watch what happens.

“Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life; everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated, thus, everyone’s task is unique as his specific opportunity to implement it.” ~ Viktor Frankl

What is one aspect of your mission at this season in your life?

Originally published on Nov 3, 2014.

About Jamie Martin

Jamie is a mama to three cute kids born on three different continents. She is the co-founder and editor of Simple Homeschool, where she writes about mindful parenting, intentional education, and the joy found in a pile of books. Jamie is also the author of a handful of titles, including her newest release, Give Your Child the World.


  1. I understand what you’re saying, but what if the parent doesn’t know their mission or purpose in life?

    • Great question! I think our mission just starts with intention in the things we must do each and every day. It’s easy to get hung up on thinking it must look a certain way or be something grand and lofty–but as we are faithful in small duties, our path and mission open up in a natural way. I hope that helps a little!

      • Thanks Jamie. That does help. Breaking it up into small daily chunks of what I (or my family) must do each day is easily understandable and doable.

  2. I love this! It’s so easy to get lost in the details and forget the big pictures. We have a family mission statement hanging on our wall that helps us when we make big decisions, but I also love the idea of reading it out loud every week. We’ve also been talking as family about being missional: living our daily lives in a way that touches those around us. The best part is that being missional can happen even in the small things: a smile at a stranger, taking someone’s cart back at the grocery store for them, assuming the best when someone cuts you off in traffic, etc. I think living with a mission all comes down to awareness of those around us and who God made us to be.
    Steph’s latest post: We Don’t “Man Up” Here

  3. So very good! Inspiring for myself and as a mom. Thank you for sharing!

  4. Thanks for his this morning, I’ve been feeling a little too focused on just getting it done without the why. Thank you!!
    Danna’s latest post: 2014-15 Ready to Roll!

  5. BTW: is this the “compass” your mom asked about or is there a little something more? would you share??
    Danna’s latest post: 2014-15 Ready to Roll!

  6. I SO love this post, Jamie! 🙂 I really needed to read this today; a day when I focused too much on the “school” part of homeschooling and didn’t focus on the “seeking” as stated in Matthew 6:33! 🙂 God bless you and yours always! (And I hope Trishna got what we sent out last month!)
    Tina@TrulyRichMom’s latest post: 5 Ways to Make All Souls’ Day Meaningful for Your Family {Philstar.com}

  7. Thank you for the reminder to look at the big picture! Sometimes I’m too focused on the now and fail to get the more important points across. Now that my oldest is turning 6 soon, we talk a lot more about her strengths, who she wants to be, and more importantly – what character God wants to see in her.
    Anastasia @ eco-babyz’s latest post: 15 Immune System Boosters and Illness Fighters for Kids

  8. What a great post! Our family actually runs a Christian mission in our hometown. I am constantly looking for my kids’ talents and encouraging them. Homeschooling gives us the time and flexibility to develop these talents. I have one daughter who volunteers at the library and is an excellent food server at the mission and another who has her own blog-design website and works with children at the mission. Our two youngest daughters love to get cups of water for everyone. We wondered if we were doing the right thing when we first started pouring so much time into this, but our kids have assured us that they wouldn’t want our life to be any other way.
    Dana at http://littlewomenontheprairie.blogspot.com/

  9. Jamie,
    Unrelated to this post. I have a copy of a letter written by Mary Ingalls that I’d like to send to you, so you can add it to your family studies. My family is distantly related to Ma’s family.
    Please drop me an email if you’d like a copy. You and I have a mutual friend, and I can give you more details by email.
    Have a great day!

  10. I have taught my kids since they could speak that I don’t care what genre they decide they have a passion for, (or how many), as long as they use it to make life better for people less fortunate than themselves. As preteens, my son wanted to be a photo blogger that exposes human rights violations, & my daughter wanted to have a cooking show for kids & teens to make healthy food fun! Now in the thick in the tough older teen years, I know in my heart that the higher my expectations, the better they will rise above it. One question though, as much as I love your pics, a leafblower? Any environmental concerns? Plus, the exercise & circulation available from manual labor can be priceless! !!! (BOdy=Temple )

  11. My life has always been like a broken compass. No matter what I’m doing it doesn’t take me long to get off track, and feeling disoriented. Yet I find myself always trying to encourage and motivate my kids. I don’t think they see much in my own life to really shout about.

  12. This is a lovely inspiring blog post. Apparently I missed it the last time around. So glad you reposted it!

  13. Jamie, thank you so much for sharing this. In your recent day-in-the-life post, I loved the idea of setting aside an hour each day to work on your personal mission. Thank you for sharing more detail about how you raise your children with a mission! 🙂

  14. I was sitting here this evening, feeling the ‘I don’t think I can keep doing this’ about homeschool, and then read this. We value mission, have lived overseas with our kiddos for a season, and it’s one of the “why’s” of our homeschool. Just what I needed today!

  15. This is great. I love those visual mission statements!
    You asked what one aspect of our mission is at this season of life and I’m thrilled to have found Trades of Hope almost three years ago. We empower women around the world out of poverty and sex-trafficking through sustainable business by marketing their beautiful Fair Trade accessories, gifts, and decor. It’s a flexible job that fits around homeschooling, but gives me a vision outside of just my own family and allows my family to learn along with me and join me in being part of the global solution.
    And we always need more mission-minded women to join our sisterhood, so more mamas in vulnerable positions can have a job that provides for their families and restores their dignity and hope! Check us out and let me know if you want to learn more about changing the world with us! http://www.mytradesofhope.com/melaniesunukjian

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