Reflections on Values
November 4, 2009
As we rethink our strategic plan at Sioux Falls Seminary, I find it a good time to reflect on my personal values. In our recent workshop I heard one faculty member say if our strong statement on valuing the Word of God and its authority did not reside at our core, he would have a difficult time teaching here. That's how important a value should be.
What core values do I have that everyone should know about me? What values do I have that make me stay at the seminary or in ministry or wherever?
My reflections on this topic demonstrate how much I put things in common parlance, down-to-earth language that might not say "value" to someone, but indeed I think they are.
I catch myself saying, Let's agree to disagree. Underlying this statement is a value that believes we need to have larger perspectives or the big picture view to accomplish great things with the Lord. To some people I could be viewed as wishy-washy, weak in things that count. Persons are more valuable than associating with only people who agree with me. I value each person enough to not make a difference in views or doctrine or lifestyles the decisive factor for relationship. Perhaps my beliefs, which I hold strongly and without reservation, can be viewed on two tiers, one which others must agree to for me to understand that they are on the same journey with the same God, and the other where we may differ but should not find a way forward to unity and growth of the Kingdom.
Thus, I get along with lots of different kinds of people with wide ranges of viewpoints. Of course, if a rub comes it often is because I do not receive the same attitude back from another person, sometimes on both extremes of the conservative and liberal spectrum. In other words, I am accepting of them but I'm supposed to change my views to agree with theirs.
That is because I also make statements like the following: hold tenaciously to what you believe at the core, but do so with grace and kindness. To me attitude is so important. God's grace was and is so kind to me and I'm pretty sure I don't have everything figured out correctly. God does. I am doing my best to understand life and all, and I am trying, with the knowledge that I am only fractionally right, to demonstrate grace like God. It seems fitting and logical.
I value the Word of God. When conversations focus on leaving a legacy, I say I hope people remember me as a man of the Word. Yes, he loved the Bible, knew it well, and attempted to live what is taught in it. And he loved relationship with the living Word. The written Word led to a deep and profound relationship with the living Word. As a value I raise up God's Word and its authority in my life. Since it is personal and relational, then I interact with people under the same principles. God came towards me in the written and in the flesh, so I try to go towards others rather than staying in my comfort zone. As a person I want people to like me. Relationship is important to me because my relationship with God sets the bar.
I know I value the Word because my excitement about studying it, obeying it, and teaching it never wanes. In fact, sometimes I embarrass myself about how excited I get when explaining some biblical passage to someone.
I value family. In a sense, this value grows out of relationship too. At times I find myself including people in my family who are not technically my family. They become so. It just happens and I'm not always sure why.
It is important to reveal my values. It says a lot about me. But mine may not be yours. Since relationship is so important, I find it difficult to explain why I need alone time. My wife, Barbie, balances her life with maybe an 80/20 split between with people and alone (it used to be 90/10). I require 50/50 for balance. If I am with people too much, I quickly tire, feel emotionally drained, may get grumpy. I can resist getting swept away by public time for a long time, but eventually I need to find some quiet retreat. Golf after work sometimes fills that need. Reading, watercoloring, TV viewing, walking, writing, praying ? all these may help meet the need. I guess alone time is also a value for me. Without it I cannot experience good relationships.
I value mission. My mission has been focused in working with Jesus in the vineyard, growing the Kingdom of God, his reign on earth and in heaven. Personal evangelism and individual salvation served my early years. They remain high on my missional understanding, but I have grown stronger the last twenty years on building the Kingdom of God, seeing God's reign reach into every area of life and culture. I have moved from being almost all individualistic in focus to a combination of individual journey and the community of faith journey. Even though we discussed the Kingdom, we used to do it in a very personal and individual sense. I now see better the larger community that is growing and transforming our world. And I would call that matching my mission with God's mission. Jesus came preaching the Kingdom, we read.
Time reflecting on personal values certainly helps me know myself. Perhaps it may help you see yourself better, too. Thanks for listening.