Each of us has values, whether we realise them or not. Often they are ones we’ve learned from our parents or ones we’ve consciously decided to have because of something we’ve experienced. So take a moment to think—what are my values?

What are values?

Maybe you are wondering what values actually are. A value is something you hold as important, worth more than something else, or set as a priority. It is something that you have as a higher standard and compare other things to it. It’s something you have an emotional attachment to. If it’s broken or disrespected, you feel it more deeply than if it was about something else. It is something you care more about it. 

Examples of values?

One of my values is honesty. If you tell me the truth, even if knowing this will hurt me, the pain is less than if I found out the truth later and thus realise I was lied to. I’m not sure where this came from, but I remember seeing this as a value I held strongly while working at McDonald’s. When I was a Floor Manager, I’d often run the kitchen. The team I had with me were usually guys aged between 16-22. It was a very busy McDonald’s, so at times seconds counted in what you could do in the time you had. But also things needed to be done regularly to keep everything stocked and clean. If I’d asked, say “Steve” to do something. I expected it to be done. So when I asked later if it was done (perhaps because I hadn’t seen it being done, or something seemed off which caused me to wonder if it had been done, I’d ask as a check. The guys learned that if they told me the truth, the result and consequences were always calmer than if they’d lied—and we found out later. 

Why was my reaction different? Why is being told the truth so important to me? The truth is the actual reality and foundation we can work with. We have the true starting point if we have the essential facts. If you have a lie or false foundation, what you build on top won’t stand firm. Something(s) will need to be taken off or adjusted to realign with the actual reality. Which means time and energy are wasted unnecessarily. We can really only trust what is true because the truth will always come out in the end. 

Another value I have is: Trying your best is good enough.

I’m not looking for perfection. But I am looking for effort and heart to be put into something so what you’re trying to achieve is the best you can currently make it. We are all growing and learning. We are all human and make mistakes. But if I see and know someone is trying their best, I will help them with my best, so we can all grow and produce the best we can with the time, resources and abilities available to us today. I have grace for those who make mistakes, try outside of their comfort zones, be willing to take a risk to dare to try… I have grace and compassion to cover, take responsibility, whatever to help make up for the part that is lacking. But if someone fails because they didn’t put in the effort, decide to do something else with the time they had for this particular thing – then it’s hard for me to be ok with it. Why? Because I’m disappointed in their lack of effort, knowing they could and can do better. That they and we are missing out on the better. Yes, I allow it to happen, so they learn and see the consequences from the less produced. To live with the disappointment of failing or not looking as good as they had hoped. So hopefully, the next time, they will remember this experience and not repeat the same mistake again. But if it’s a continued (many times) failing, not changing to grow and learn—a very different conversation with not too happy consequences needs to happen that is painful for all of us. 

Other values we could have are:

  • Time – how we use our time and how others spend their lives that impact yours. Taking time to go deeper, have the space to share more than the limited amount to answer a specific task question. Or to have time to reflect and consider before giving an answer. Some people can do the exact same task but take very different amounts of time to complete it. Why/how? Because how they approach the task is different. Do as quickly as possible-goal to complete efficiently. Do as well as possible-goal do be excellent. Savour the experience while doing it – what happens to me while doing it is important. It’s a journey, not a destination that’s of value.
  • If you are event-oriented, you don’t think about the time. But finishing well the current thing before moving on to the next thing. So you probably won’t notice the time or if you’re late for the next thing because you weren’t ready to move on to the next thing yet.
  • Freedom – struggling to cope with boundaries or standards others place on you or what you’ve been asked to do. It could seem to limit creativity or how you do things. It can feel constricting, squashing the life out of you far more than others feel the situation is.
  • Structure – you need to know precisely where the lines are, specifically what’s expected of you, the time frame, materials to use…. This helps you feel safe and secure. You have and know everything you need to do the required task.
  • Relationship – you can’t work with someone until you know them personally more. Having a chat over coffee to find out about one another’s life is more important than what you need to do together. You may not feel comfortable with them until you have shared personally and connected there.
  • Level of communication. I love to almost over-communicate. To make sure we are on the same page, to limit any space for confusion or assumption. (It’s linked to honesty because with a lack of communication, it’s like a lack of the whole truth. So it’s clear and gives less space to miscommunication and thus frustration. Also, the speed of communication, do it as soon as you have an answer. Enables to move the process on, gives time to the other person for what they need to do in response to what was communicated.

Are my values Kingdom Values vs Worldly ones?

Kingdom values are those based on Biblical principles. For example, honouring and valuing other people no matter their status or culture.

Worldly values are those the world holds as important but don’t line up with the bible. For example, money = success. 

When you have taken some time to write down what you think some of your values are. Ask God to show you scriptures that relate to each value. 

For example, my value on honesty: Ephesians 4:15 “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.”

There is a key kingdom element to how to be honest. And that’s to do it in and with love. The how I share is just as important as the what. But when combined together, it’s covered with God too. So the person hearing it can receive it more easily (even if it’s painful to hear).

Why am I talking about values today?

Most days, when I wake up knowing it’s a writing day for me and I have another blog to write, I don’t know what I’m going to write on. Sometimes on a Tuesday evening, I wonder a little with God as to what I’m going to write because nothing comes to mind. Then when I start praying, asking God what He wants me to write about today, something comes to mind. Today it was the question – what are my values? Do we realise that we have values, or just see it when something doesn’t sit right? But today, I also realised that it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I’m writing about values today because we, as a YWAM Community, started a realignment process on Monday. (It’s going to take most of next year too, but Monday was the start, a welcome to the beginning of the process God has been taking our region’s leaders into, and now it’s time for us to join them.)

So as a BLP yesterday, we shared what we have been reflecting on hearing about this topic. In YWAM, we have 18 values. Ones born out of times with God over the years reflect who we are as a mission organisation, our identity, purpose, and God’s nature and character. YWAM is 60 years old now, and so the newer younger generations coming in might not understand or have fully caught our history and values. So Darlene Cunningham took up the challenge to write it all down to have an accurate record and story for all future generations to remember and understand why and what we are as YWAM. 

But it’s not enough to be able to reel off the list of what these 18 values are. Values aren’t something we just write on paper and even have them pinned up for all to see. Values are the how and what behind why we do the things we do in the way we do them. They are part of our nature and character. And in different seasons, it’s good to sit down and reflect honestly with ourselves, one another and God to ask —Am I living out these values? Do my words, actions, thoughts reflect these values? And anywhere God highlights to us instances where they don’t, we have a choice – to repent (if needed) and prayerfully work out what needs to change in order to live out these values in a more wholehearted way.

18 values are a lot, so some come more naturally to me than others. For example, to Know God (yes, I want to take time each day to get to know God more personally) and corporately. Or value 18 – to communicate with integrity. It’s very much a personal value already, so I know it’s easier for me to do without extra intentionality. 

But honestly, sometimes the one on valuing families is hard. Little kids need attention. They love to make noise that, at times, is rather distracting for me. But they are as welcome to be part of our community as I am, so I need to choose to make space for them, welcome them to express themselves and be ok with some unexpected noise (as I try to find a quieter room to find the words to share in a blog or chapter). It is a conscious choice to extend love, embrace differences, and ask God for grace when it’s stretching. I will be better for it, and so will everyone else around me. 

What happens when your values are different from someone else’s?

We live in a social media world where others values can be flashed in front of our faces when we least expect it. Sometimes we don’t realise that we have a different value from someone else until they express it right in front of us. For example, whether everyone should be vaccinated or continue to have the freedom and right to choose medical decisions for themselves. Or if God still has a place in people’s lives today because they don’t see the need for him anymore. Or your truth is only true to you, but it’s not my truth….

How we choose to respond to someone else’s actions (based on their truth) is how mature our own character is. Therefore no matter whether we agree with what someone else is telling us. How we treat them comes out of our value system. I choose to be a Christian to want to be like Jesus. He commands us to love one another. So if I disagree with them, how I speak and respond needs to come from a place of love and honour. To ask questions to help me understand their perspective more. To see that I can learn something from them and appreciate that they’ve taken time to share. God loves them as much as He loves me regardless of whether I like or agree with them.

Maybe we can only agree to disagree, but perhaps I will also appreciate their passion, gifting and point of view that can help me grow in stretching my understanding and perspective. And see how God is reflected in their life differently from mine. But perhaps it will also help me clarify what I believe and value too. And to be thankful for this time to process with them too.

Realigning our values to God’s principles.

Through some of my challenges this year, I’ve discovered that pieces of my values aren’t fully lined to biblical principles. Perhaps not as far as an ungodly belief but not entirely God’s truth. For example, am I a good leader because those I’m leading are doing well? This would imply that the results are of more value than my obedience. If I do what God has asked me to, then He is proud of me, regardless of how others have chosen to respond to what I’ve communicated. Their choices are not my responsibility. So I may be valuing results more than simple obedience. A thought that I’m continuing to ponder with God.

What is your response to what you’ve read here?

I hope you will take some time with God to reflect and figure out your personal values. As well as the values of the place you are working / living. Then, figure out with God what scriptures correspond to this value and what needs to be changed to align fully with God’s word. Then how does my life (my words, actions, thoughts) reflect this value? What do I need to understand and change to fully reflect kingdom principles in this area?

My prayer for all of us is to be able, to be honest with ourselves and with God about whether what we think we believe and do are consistent. But even more, so that they are in line with God’s values. And then have the courage to repent and change what needs to be transformed into kingdom values and principles.