There is a difference between real and declared values. Real values are those that are true about you in every day life. They are lived out. If you want to know what is really your vales, ask your wife or your closest friends. Declared values are the ones people hear about but never see. We all have real values and declared values. A person can declare all they want about having solid values but until those values actually begin to show up on their calendar and in their life, they are only declared, not much to show for with these kinds of values.
What is a value? How does a person or a couple determine which values to adopt?
Values provide you with a strong foundation for living your life to it’s fullest. Values will also help you in finding your purpose in life. Like a rudder on a ship that helps steer a boat through the water, values are guiding principles that steer us toward our purpose. They are the attitude behind our lives. They are the uniqueness of who we want to be. If our lives were a MacDonald’s Big Mac, the values would be the special sauce.
How many values should a family, person, couple have? Values are like hats, if you are trying to wear too many, it gets cumbersome. It is best to have a handful. These values may change and adapt but they should always be real and not just declared.
God is the author of values. Romans 2:14-16 points to our design. It seems our hearts and consciences reveal the fingerprints of a moral God. C.S. Lewis notes that there appears to be uniformity among most cultures on what uniform moral absolutes look like. Most cultures do not honor treachery, selfishness, cowardice or deceit. (Lewis, The Abolition of Man).
Here are a list of verses to consider when understanding a Biblical perspective on values:
- Matthew 6:24
- James 1:22-27
- Proverbs 19:1
- Luke 6:31
- Mark 11:25
- Hebrews 13:18
- Acts 20:35
- John 13:34-35
- Colossians 3:1
Just a few really. There are myriads and myriads more.
Here is an exercise to help you choose your top values and live by them. If you already have values that you use, confirm that these values are indeed Real and not just Declared. As we move along in this process, these values will be aligned with our mission and goals. It will be difficult to be a bank robber and think you can save the world. There’s no alignment there. No one is going to ask you to rob a bank but they also won’t ask you to be intentional with your values either.
Rank the Following Categories for your family life! You may want to distinguish between what you do now and what you want to be doing…
Now take each of these areas and fill in the blanks:
The ____________ Category we would love to be ____________
(i.e. Spiritually we would love to be Authentic, Committed, Passionate, Growing, etc.)
How do you know what to put in the blanks? Consider the Following:
- You may want to think of a person who has been influential (for the good) in your life. What about them made the biggest impact?
- What do you want to be remembered for?
- What things would you be doing in each of these categories if you knew failure was not an issue?
- If you were the President of the country, what would you make a requirement for everyone to be doing in these categories?
Here is a List of Value words to draw from (or make up your own):
Accepting, inspire, accomplished, intelligent, kind, aware, knowledgeable, beautiful, leader, brave, loving, calm, motivated, compassionate, observant, organized, connected, original, cooperative, passionate, courageous, patient, creative, peaceful, decisive, perceptive, devoted, persistent, disciplined, playful, discriminating, prepared, receptive, energetic resilient, enthusiastic, respectful, excited, responsible, expert, risk-taker, satisfied, flexible, sensible, sensitive, fulfilled, spiritual, generous spontaneous, graceful, strong, grateful, happy, thoughtful, harmonious thorough, humorous, trusting, independent, willing, insightful, wise, intentional, authentic, pure, shrewd, adventurous, dangerous, hungry, etc.
Narrowing Down the Values that Define YOU!
Take the top 2 values from each category and write them down. Take some time (days) to sleep on and talk to others about which one is really your value.
This is not a test or a race. Time is your friend. Breathe easy, you will be evaluating these values annually.
FINALLY: Make sure they are your values and not someone else’s values.