How would you like to have your own business? A corporation bearing your name? In reality you already do! Your home, your family is a small business — an enterprise worth investing in. Read how you can manage your family corporation better.
MANY MEN dream of starting a business of their own. They long to be the head of their own corporation, guiding and directing its destiny. Yet these same men may be overlooking one of the fundamental opportunities of life. Because if they are husbands and have families, each is already the head of a dynamic institution bearing his name! As a husband you are president of an institution that should be one of the greatest challenges of your entire life. Every year you will invest multiple thousands of dollars in this "business" of yours. And you will spend thousands of hours directing and controlling it. Isn't it worth taking the time now to learn how to MANAGE your family corporation better?
You Are Corporation President
As man of the house, you are chief executive of the family. As such, you are responsible for the eventual success or failure of your "business venture." In I Timothy 3:5 God says a man should rule well his own household. This means to exercise good management in the administration of the home. How does your administration measure up?
Is This YOU?
One common type of administrator is the authoritarian family executive. When he speaks, his word is like the law of the Medes and Persians (Esther 1:19; Dan. 6:8) — absolutely FINAL! The only role his wife and children can fill is prompt execution of his commands. In such an atmosphere original thought and ideas are not really welcome. They are regarded as a challenge to "authority." If you saw the movie, The Ten Commandments, you'll recognize this type in Yul Brynner's personification of Pharaoh: "So let it be written, so let it be done." And woe to the family member who doesn't do it! Authority certainly is not wrong in itself. But it can be misused and badly applied. Then there is the democratic type of administrator. His family is run like the local country club. Everyone in the family is "happy," everyone is his buddy. He'd never cross anyone in the family — especially his wife. There is no direction, guidance and counsel in this type of family. The home becomes a mere "refueling stop" and the family is run on the "one-person, one-vote" principle. Another type is the family fence-sitter, the true abdicator of responsibility, the man who is quick to criticize others in the family and quick to claim all the credit for the family's accomplishments. This is the man who never makes decisions, only excuses. Similar to this type is the nonentity husband — a marital vegetable. He is the one who slips into the house after a hard day's work, eats, watches TV awhile, kisses his kids goodnight (maybe) and then slips off into dreamland himself. Upon arising the next morning he eats and slips off to work once again. To his children he is the family mystery, an unknown quantity in their lives. Are you any of these just described? The truly responsible family administrator is none of these types. He manages his family with deep concern and involvement. He actively plans and directs his family enterprise. He guides his family's energy into productive activity, rather than suppressing it through careless misuse of his God-given authority. He enjoys accomplishing his hopes, plans and dreams through his family — not in spite of them! In short, he utilizes to the full the basic principles of good management that will make his family an unqualified success. But how can you develop the skills required to manage your family corporation wisely and effectively?
First, you need to develop the skill of planning far in advance. Plan long-range into the future. Organize your family's hopes and dreams. Don't be afraid to plan for five, ten, fifteen or more years ahead. None of us really knows how much time is left before Christ will return — or when our Work will be over. There could be very little. Or there could be more time than any of us might think. In either case, you will accomplish little without planning. On the other hand, with planning, what might seem like an impossible dream now could become reality in a few years or less! How can God speak of things that do not yet exist as though they really do? Because He plans in detail, then sets about to accomplish His plans in a logical and systematic manner, leaving no stone un turned. Of course, He has all power to make things happen His way, too. God is planning ahead for the Millennium now, and has been planning perhaps for eons. God is a practical utopian! He turns dreams and plans into reality — not by accident and happenstance — but by careful planning and execution of those plans. So get busy and project your family's needs into the future. Project their needs for housing, clothing, furniture, education, recreation and exercise for years to come. Then begin to organize those needs in a logical and systematic plan. Don't let these needs surprise you — it's easy to anticipate them. Plan ahead to avoid great gaps in your budget, to avoid having children entering high school without proper educational background; plan ahead for recreational, educational, and travel experiences which are very broadening for a family, and thrilling to children. Plan for the future and your money and energy will go much further.
Be BALANCED in Your Planning
You should begin by classifying your future needs and goals according to major and minor objectives. It will help to jot them down on a sheet of paper or in a notebook. You might even categorize them under such headings as spiritual needs, physical needs, educational needs, recreational needs, etc. Of course some of these may overlap at times. But don't make the mistake of doing this alone. Include your "executive vice-president for home management" — your WIFE! After all, she is responsible (under your overall direction) for the day-to-day operation of the household. And she, also, must learn to plan ahead to meet future needs of the family. Your wife can and should help you set priorities on basic objectives. She will think of things you would tend to overlook. By including her at the earliest stage of your planning you will be adding balance, practicality and realism to your planning. And she will be a more eager member of the team to carry out the planned future accomplishments and activities of your family! Your wife should not have to "read your mind" to find out what you are planning for the future, nor be limited to the daily routine of running the house — and possible frustration. Her life should be enriched by knowing what is planned for the future and having a part in carrying it out. As you and your wife examine your list of objectives, it may become obvious that many supposed "major" objectives are actually minor. And vice versa. But as you think about, discuss, and plan for the future, your goals will become more balanced, practical and worthwhile. Your wife may even have priorities that take precedence over some of yours. For example, you may have set your heart on a new stereo or some fishing equipment. But when you and your wife examine the order of importance of those objectives, you may come to see that what you really need is a new washing machine. You just might be going to become the proud father of twins in a few months. And you can't wash diapers in a stereo!
Organization of the Details
Once you settle on your long-term goals and balance them according to their real priorities, you can take the next practical step — the organization of details. Your wife can be a great help in organizing the details. Don't be afraid of delegating much of this responsibility to her. You will not be losing "authority" over your family corporation by doing so, but you will be using that authority properly. Such books as Managing Your Time by Engstrom and Mackenzie are excellent, easy-to-read aids to the practical organization of details, which you and your wife should make it a point to read.
But unfortunately, the best laid plans of mice and family executives often go awry. Why? Motivation may be lacking! Your wife and children probably don't dislike work of itself. Many a father is surprised to find his little children right there with him, seeking to participate in a backyard project, or to build something with dad's tools. Children, and grown-ups, too, want to participate. All you need do, then, as father and head of the family, is continue to build up the enthusiasm of every member. Set an enthusiastic example yourself. "Talk it up" — teaching and reminding them of the goals, the purposes the family is working toward, setting the example of planning ahead. Delegate responsibilities to each individual. Begin by giving your children general assignments — assignments that will fit their ability and knowledge level. Then, if they need further knowledge or skills to accomplish the job, patiently and positively teach them — show them how! Furthermore, if your children are old enough, let them decide for themselves how best to handle their particular project. Make the job truly theirs. Let them be responsible for its organization and completion — then hold them responsible for following through. This will encourage and develop your children's imagination and initiative. You will actively develop in them the confidence and practical experience needed for their adult lives. Then don't be surprised if your little children exceed your expectations. When they are properly motivated by being able to participate with you in the family goals, they will likely go above and beyond the call of duty.
Learn to Communicate
Quite often, however, family members work diligently, but in opposite directions! Each member may feel he is "on the beam" and working in unison toward the same goal, but really isn't. It isn't that your family disagrees with you. They feel the job should be done. After all, they all want to accomplish the project, too. But confusion can arise as to how, when and by whom an assignment should be carried out. And the plan falters. You, as the family executive, must systematically layout, whether in your mind or on paper, every step of the plan. Then you must COMMUNICATE this to your family! A good family manager can effectively communicate the "who" and "how" and "when" to his family so that it's very clear what is expected of each member. For example, you need to start planning now for this year's Feast of Tabernacles. Between now and then begin putting into practice the art of good management. It's your job to plan ahead, and then to organize the details on a month-by-month, weekly, and finally a day-to-day basis so your family will be ready to leave next fall. You and your family will need to check on reservations along the way, food, new clothing, dry cleaning, washing, housecleaning, sewing, last-minute shopping, car repairs, etc. And most important of all, you need to prepare your family spiritually for the Feast. If you wait until the last week or last few days (as many of you did before last year's feast), you'll be up all night, worn out and sick before you reach the festival site. Many a wife has "enjoyed" the Feast in her motel room or tent exactly because of this! So why not begin months in advance and begin to organize and prepare while there is time? Plan ahead, assign who should do what, decide when it should be completed, then chart the details so you can monitor your progress. All along the way, update, revise and COMMUNICATE with your family to be sure that all is being done properly and on schedule.
Keep the Channels Open
It is easy to allow the channels of good communications to become clogged or to fall into disuse. This lack of two-way communication can cause multitudes of troubles. Many a man has brought guests home for dinner, but had failed to inform his wife. He simply assumed she knew. And many a wife has felt crushed and betrayed after the honeymoon when she learned that her hero wasn't a mind reader. She had to tell him what she was thinking, wishing, desiring - or he just didn't know it! Much marital discord and family friction results simply from severed lines of communication. How open are your channels of communication? Sit down with your wife some evening, just the two of you, and discuss what is on her mind. You may be surprised at the long list of things she has not yet communicated to you. The same communications gap can occur with your children. You can either tune them in or tune them out. How often have you tuned them out? How often have you refused to listen to them? When people don't communicate, they begin to grow apart, and a chasm may develop between the separate individual's aims, goals, ideals and plans. When you stop to think about it — the so-called "generation gap" is really between the ears, isn't it?
Every corporation must take overall inventory periodically. Otherwise, different departments will begin to drift apart and lose sight of the goal. Inefficiency, wasted effort and bankruptcy could result. You, as the family head and chief executive, should immediately take inventory of your family corporation. Analyze its purposes, goals, objectives, and see if you are making good progress toward them. Check with every family member, as feasible, and make sure you are all pulling together as much as possible. Remember — it's your "corporation." You are "president," and your wife "executive vice-president." Success or failure is your responsibility.