Core Values

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I promised you last week that I would tell you about one of the things I learned from a challenge I have taken this month.  The first day of the challenge I was asked to define my core values.  I thought I had them in hand, but as I sat and really thought about them, I realized that I needed to look at this a little more closely.  The challenge had some good reasons to do this that I wanted to share with you.

Core Values are the things in your life that act as your compass when the way seems unclear.  You might not know what is right or wrong in a situation, but if you have your bedrock values, you can hold your situation up to them and see a more definitive path.  When we make determinations that way, we are better able to remove some of the fickle attitudes or desires that come and go in our lives.

Defining our values gives us purpose. – If you don’t have a destination in mind then you will just go anywhere.  The Bible backs that up quite well in The book of Proverbs:

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I do not want to live a life of turmoil.  The path of my life may have some rough spots in it, but it is a lot easier to endure a difficult day of travel when you have a destination mapped out.

Defining our values prevents us from making bad choices – Don’t get me wrong.  we will still make mistakes, but this should keep us from making any really BIG ones.  Knowing exactly what is important to you and breaking it down to its details will allow you to make decisions more easily when things are a little fuzzy because you have your values to all back on. If you are about to take action in something that conflicts with your values it will give you an unhappy feeling, and that should help you stop!

Defining our values give us confidence – When we really think about something and take the time to internalize what it means to us, we become more confident in what we are going to do about it.  We gain a courage to take the next step because we have thought it out, and we can make the choice with commitment.  Writing them down helps us with that!

Defining our values makes life more simple – If you know what you value, then you can make difficult choices more easily.  You just ask, “Is this a conflict?”  If the answer is no, then you go for it.  If it is, then find another way.  It sounds too simple, but some of the simplest things in life are the best. Much of the confusion in our lives is there simply because we haven’t sat down and really thought about what we want.

So, how do I do this?  What steps are necessary to make a list of core values?  Well, it is going to take some work, but when you take the time to do it, you will see the world a little more clearly.  Some of the fog begins to lift where things have been undefined or have lacked priorities. In the end, you see a framework of what really matters to you, and you can then begin to build on that.  Dress it up to reflect who you want to be, and then you will have the clear boundaries to help you be that person.  So, here we go!

  1. Get relaxed. – This should take some time, and unless you have some type of martyr-like mentality, you should be comfortable as you sit down and think things through.  Do whatever works for you, but get your stress level down before you begin. It will help you think more clearly.  Take a walk, a nap, read a book, do whatever you need to do to minimize the mental noise.
  2. Have your tools. – WRITE IT DOWN!  Paper and pen/pencil are necessary for this.  You need to scribble things out and have a visual cue of decisions being made as you whittle this down to the things that really matter.  There is an element of sorting here that cannot truly be appreciated with a “backspace” button. (I say that and I am a guy that would rather use a keyboard for almost anything!)  Also, there is something about the activity of pen on paper that just feels more binding.  Can’t explain it, but that’s the way it is!
  3. Ask, “What is truly important to me?” – This is not a question to be asked lightly.  It takes guts.  Think about the things that make you happiest, most satisfied.  Maybe you will need to think about the things that make you the most angry or currently cause you the most frustration or confusion.  Answers maybe in there that you will need to sort through to make a solid list.
  4. Write down EVERYTHING that pops is your head. – As you get the words out on paper it allows others ideas to take shape.  There is nothing wrong with a big list.  The more you have there to work with, the more likely you will find the things that matter to you the most.
  5. If you have more than five values, you have too many! –  I know, you just did a bunch of work and went all the way to the back of your brain for ideas, and now I am asking you to cut it back to five.  Make it the five that really speak to your heart.  It needs to be the five things that you know you could not live without.  When you can’t decide, just put two of them against each other and ask which one matters most.  Eventually you will work the number down.  Trust me. Five is enough!
  6. Make the biggest deal the biggest deal! – You have got to prioritize them.  Rank them from most important to 5th least important.  We can even have conflict within the five things that matter most to us.  If we consciously put an order to our top five, then we can look again to our values when we are having a conflict of priority.

This type of exercise is being presented to us every day – particularly in the business world.  We need our values to guide our actions and our attitudes in order to be better in our careers.  Is that the only reason to do it?  Is this a recent idea?  I don’t think so.

Christ spoke in the book of Luke about what it takes to be a disciple.  He was actually warning them that being His disciple was not just showing up for church or sitting and reading the Bible.  It requires work, sacrifice, a Relentless desire to be made over in His image and lead others to the same!  It is going to cost us:

For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?

– Luke 14:28

One of the ways we count the cost is to determine what we hold dearest to us.  What are we willing to fight for, and what are we willing to let go?  Do we put enough value in certain areas of our lives that we can give over to Christ?  Are we willing to look hard at ourselves and see our deficiencies and give them to Christ so He can make us strong in them?

Your values can and will change over time.  This is a great exercise for a person committed to Relentless Growth, and one that I will be doing every couple of years form now on.  Call it a “recalibration.”  Over the next few weeks I will be sharing my top five and why I chose them, as well as how I hope to see them work themselves out in my life.

How about you?  Are you up to the challenge of picking your values?  If so, I’d love to hear about it!  Feel free to comment or message me privately at myrelentlessgrowth@gmail.com.

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As For Me…

 

10455157_10152594570874022_1317384162455803489_nI posted this picture the other day. It was a pic I shared from a Facebook page, and it got some attention from some of my friends. A few of them “liked” it, and some others mentioned it to me as I went through the rest of my week. There were a couple folks that seemed to not like it, and I got the idea they thought I might have been a little “preachy”.

When I saw the picture, my thought was simply that it was cool! I love the way that Rough Cut Men put these slides together, and I like to let my friends see them. A couple things happened that have made me think about that pic a little more though. I’d like to share if you have the time.

Today I was “confronted” or you could say “battered” or “assaulted” with some stuff on Facebook from a couple of friends that I know are believers. The content was not appropriate for public viewing, and was definitely not something that a Christian should be putting out there. It made me sad. I wasn’t angry. I was just saddened by the message and how it reflects back to a believer’s relationship with Christ.

I think back to the old quote,

Presentation1Before anyone gets upset, let me introduce myself. My name is Tom. I am a sinner. I was born a sinner. I will die a sinner. I try not to sin as much as I used to, but I still do it. I do wrong things, say wrong things, and I think wrong things. This is who I am, and as a result of that, I am not looking down my nose in judgment of anyone.

I am a sinner, but I am a redeemed sinner. That redemption does not keep me from sinning, but if I am living a life of Relentless Growth, then the redemption should make me more sensitive to the sin in my life, and more sensitive to the harm it has in other’s lives as well. Even more, it should make me see that engaging in wrong behavior is going to keep me from growing in Christ and could damage the work of the gospel because of my example.

So, why does this picture mean more to me now? Because we live in a very “social” world today. To many people we know, our identity is made up of Facebook posts, Twitter, tweets, and Instagram photos. In these bursts of communication through social media, we are showing what matters most to us, what is on our hearts and minds, what drives us, what we like, support, and identify with.

For some, that will be selfies, fluffy kittens, jokes, or food. Those things aren’t wrong, but are they your identity? What about the content that you like or share? Do we take notice of where we are getting things, and what they contain?

I know there are people who flee the world of social media because they see it as a cesspool of humanity. They are wrong. It isn’t a cesspool. It can be a dark room to be sure, but all a dark room needs is light.

I want my presence in social media to be one of light. My goal is to make people think with the words that I use and the things that I post. Not to make me look good, remember, I’m not! I just want to use these avenues as opportunities to help push back the dark a bit. It’s a battle worth fighting.

So, I guess I would like to make a request, a challenge, and announce a goal.

Request – if I say something in my posts either here or in any other form of social media that you feel would pull people from a Relentless pursuit of a relationship with Christ, CALL ME ON IT! Let me know somI can pull it down. I don’t want to be a stumbling block.

Challenge – Join me! Make today the day that you look at your media presence as an opportunity to serve God and push back the dark in a place that desperately needs it! You might lose a couple “friends” but your cousin’s English teacher’s nephew was probably not a close friend anyway, and you might even show some friends something worth seeing, a Relentless Life in Christ!

Goal – Here is where things might get rough. If I have something come across my wall that has that potential to pull me from Christ, and I know you are a believer, I will message you privately and ask you to consider it. Your call if you want to pull it down, but I want to at least ask you to consider it. I may be unpopular after that, but If I am a friend, I need to do it.

Presentation2I want to serve God. The picture is a modern version of this verse from Joshua.  At the end of his life, he laid down this challenge to the people of Israel.  A challenge that echoes through the centuries to us today:

Relentless Growth requires us to look at things with different eyes. We need to challenge the norms of society and we can do that by redeeming the things that others may use to tear people down. So, how about it? Who wants to join me?

Relentless Growth -> Grow Deep -> Grow Strong