This post also appears on the Barefoot Ministries blog here.
What do you really value? In different seasons of life I’ve found this question to be both motivating and debilitating. As I’ve stared into the mirror and seen the reflection of how I have invested my time, resources, and abilities, I’ve experienced moments where my values are inspiring and moments where my values humble me because they are different from what I hoped them to be.
Life is a journey, filled with a sequence of highs and lows. Self-discovery is critically important for an individual, his or her family, and his or her broader community. The process of self-discovery begins with uncovering what our values really are.
Values, beliefs, and customs are directly related to tendencies, priorities, and actions. Objectively identifying how we behave will lead us to question why we do what we do. It is the determination of the why behind a particular behavior that leads us to discover what value drives our activity.
The sobering reality is that much of what we say we value actually differs from what our realistic, lived values tend to be. While it’s true that an external environment, perceived limitations, or uncontrollable circumstances contribute to the development of a set of values, personal choice and activity still bring a set of values to life.
Let’s look at the state of the North American church for a moment. Consumerism and democracy have shaped North American faith. As a result, people have a tendency to voice their individual opinions while searching to create (or consume) their own personal spiritual experiences. The resulting factor has been an elevation of personal spiritual development with the resulting diminishing value of a communal experience or expression. The question of, What do I get out of this? becomes more important than, What can we contribute to this?
Knowing what we value will help us redefine a vision for our present reality and our future hope. Values shape who we are and what we do. What do your values say about you?