Yesterday, I wrote about values, and what I think they are — especially how our values are revealed by behavior, along with some suggestions on how to assess your own core values.
So, I was asked some pointed values-questions by email from an online friend who knows my position. I thought I’d post my replies here so you, my Gentle Readers, can get to know me a little better. This was a useful exercise for me, perhaps it would be for you, too?
Authenticism is the real aim here, Rich. Since one’s values describe a person as demonstrated by their behavior, behavior demonstrates one’s authentic values.
We often speak as if our confession of belief defines who we are as a believer. But as James noted in his epistle, without accompanying behavior, the confession is incomplete.
This is the heart of a discussion on core values.
You spoke of meaningless terms. I also think we have some terms which we as believers render meaningless. One of them is the word “believe.” When a person says they “believe” something, but it has no accompanying behavior, the belief is not authentic and the confession is rendered meaningless.
So, what about you, Rich … What are some values that describe who you are as a person?
Fair enough. Here’s a stab, though I don’t pretend to be as transparent in an online anonymous forum as I would be face-to-face, I can at least outline what I value. I hope these are in line with my actual behavior — I think they are at least — but the beauty of living in community with other believers is that they can call you out on your values disconnect. Unfortunately, few if any of you reading this can do so since you don’t know me in meatspace.
I value the glimmering I have of God’s relationship to me. I don’t understand it completely, but I have this sense that I’m not required to understand it to benefit from it. Similarly, I value my wife’s astounding commitment to me, our relationship, and her unyielding love for me. As in my relationship with my Father, I don’t completely understand her love. But then, I don’t completely understand my love for her either. But I also value our commitment to grow old together, or die trying. And I value my children and their unquestioning and humbling love for me. My children have taught me more about God’s love for me as a Father than all the textbooks I read in college.
I value the grace and fortune that allows me to enjoy all these loves in a single lifetime.
I value reason chained to a thoroughly biblical faith. I value literacy. I value humility, thoughtfulness, kindness, and hard work. I value integrity. I value kittens.
I value well-chosen words.
I value humor plus a healthy sense of irony and self-deprecation.
How does your behavior reflect what is important to you?
I’m not always sure, that’s why I’m always returning to God’s face to seek his forgiveness through repentance. The mystery is that I’ve made mistakes, and continue to make mistakes despite my desire to be perfected. As Paul said: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” I think, at the very least, the starting point is to want to want the proper values, then to really want the value itself, and finally to repent of conflicting behaviors and begin to grasp the value. I must strive to be that living sacrifice, though my flesh constantly struggles to slip off the altar. It’s a constant battle to remain under the transforming thumb of God’s love and I am not perfect in living the life exemplified by the values I cherish.
But if you were to watch me 24-hours a day you would see much evidence of my commitment to my family — and some conflict. When I’m with my family, I try to be completely “present.” If I bring home work, I try to separate it from my time with my kids so they don’t feel cut off from me — though I am not perfect in this area and have had to spend some time apart the last few weeks to finish a major project upon which my continued employment rests. But when I’m with my kids, we talk, we play, we cuddle, I teach, I explain, I tell stories. I cuddle with my children at bed time, and I kiss them and tell them I love them constantly. This, by the way, is not forced effort — it amazes and confounds me how naturally this affection flows when I had never been able to express this kind of intimacy and love before.
I always have time for my wife, and I never give her the bum’s rush when she calls me at work — though I might have to let her know I’m in a meeting, or trying to meet a deadline. We talk frequently, and I encourage her in her interests and want to know more about what’s new in her life each day.
I seek beauty in my photography, clarity in my writing, and I try to glorify Christ in what I communicate.
I often fail, but that’s a symptom of my weaknesses more than my desires or values.
What are you passionate about?
Discipleship. Integrity. Kindness. Wisdom. Mentoring. Reading. Writing. Communication. A job well done.
What are your convictions that influence every thing you do?
My convictions are something I’d die for — I have precious few of those. Top of the list would be: To know God. To make Him known. To love my wife and children. To be true to my faith as I understand it.
To do everything my hand finds to do with as much skill as I can muster. (Within reason.)
« What determines your priorities? »
Eight to ten hours out of the day: my boss. Physical exhaustion rules another five to seven hours of the day — ten on Saturdays. Another two or three hours are given over to sheer hunger and sometimes thirst. The remainder are given over to loving my wife and kids, being kind to strangers, and doing whatever my hand finds to do. Like blogging.
« What influences your decisions? »
I don’t always know. Do you? On a good day “it is God who works in [me] to will and to act according to his good purpose.” (Phil 2:13) On a bad day whatever’s urgent influences my decisions.
« What are the priorities that drive your life and are easily identified in your behavior? »
My wife says, bottom line, “You’re a teacher.”
I guess that’s the most obvious thing I know about myself, other than my weight.
I hope these two posts have been useful for you in seeing how you can clarify your core values by examining your behavior.
[tags]BlogRodent, values, values-clarification, pentecostal, charismatic, evangelical, ethics, behavior, beliefs[/tags]