My husband and I began to emphasize family identity many years ago with fledgling attempts toward a little understood goal; we just didn’t know what would have the most long-term impact. Glancing back over our shoulders at twenty years of effort toward that end, a simple craft project made the most lasting impression.
As part of a medieval home school co-op, we were required to create a family banner. We chose to highlight our last name initial, the name of our home school, a cross, and four biblical character traits – wisdom, faith integrity, love. The finished fabric banner was proudly displayed in our family room for many years and has became a distinctly “Ekhoff” reminder of our high calling in this generation.
A family crest had many uses. We used ours to decorate yearbook pages and a family T-shirt. Richard often closed family prayer by stating our four-fold character creed. He said, “Wisdom!” and we finished, “Faith, Integrity, Love!”
We began our discussion of a family symbol as the series of answers to questions. These helped us narrow and define the Ekhoffs as a unique family with distinct purposes and goals. Every family has a God-imparted purpose and personality and any family can make a family emblem to celebrate that spiritual heritage!
Here are some steps to get you started:
- Make a list characteristics and activities which your family most enjoys doing together, getting input from every member. For instance: camping, craftsmanship, gardening, reading, sports, traveling, hiking, puzzles, music, etc. No two members of a family are exactly alike, but each family gravitates toward certain activities that add unity.
- Name the long-term goals that cast vision for your family. Often these goals are based on the pursuit of particular character traits. They may be expressed by a verse or passage of scripture.
- What is your spiritual gifting? Some families emphasize service, hospitality, worship, tithing, discipleship or scripture memory; others believe that soul winning is the ultimate.
- What symbols best represent your core beliefs: a dove, lit candle, a cross, bread and challis, oak tree, heart, rainbow, open Bible, a narrow path, a house on a rock?
- Now combine all these components into simple words and symbols that will symbolize your goals and identity. For instance, if your family believes that purity and truth are the highest Christian calling and have chosen the symbol of an open Bible to represent your commitment to scripture memory, you could design a crest displaying the outline of an open Bible. “Purity” could be written on one open page and “Truth” on the other.
- Finally, decide how to create the emblem using the gifts and abilities of your family members. Some families have a seamstress; some have a carpenter. Some have scrapbooking tools. Still others have a graphic designer or artist. Think through the details of where the symbol will be displayed to determine a color scheme. And last, decide if it will need to be protected by a frame or hung on a rod.
The value of articulating family identity is its ability to cast vision over a period of years. As a flexible symbol, its meaning can mature as family members grow up in the Lord. A family crest is a symbol with impact.