Tag Archive for: values

Does what you say you value align with your behavior? 

Consider these three scenarios:

  • You love your family and enjoy the time you share with them. Even though you work 60 to 70 hours a week, you enjoy your work. Because you want to spend more time with your spouse and your children, you attempt to balance family time with your work schedule, but neither are getting your total attention or your best life. You are feeling tense, guilty, and alone. 
  • You consider yourself to be a person of your word. Whether it is with family, friends, or colleagues, you feel a sense of satisfaction, peace, and fulfillment when you complete a project as promised on time. But, when you don’t complete the project, in the time frame you set for yourself, you feel uneasy and uncomfortable. Even when the people around you are not concerned about it, you still feel as if you have not kept your word. 
  • You are a person of faith, a Jesus follower, and you feel comfortable with talking about your religious beliefs. You attend a Sunday School class with people who are also persons of faith but who do not share your views on particular issues. You like sharing your opinions and beliefs, but every Sunday you feel the tension when the class discussion begins. You enjoy the people in the class, but you are losing your patience with being on guard and not offending anyone. 

When your decisions and behaviors do not align, you experience the tension of conflicting values. In the midst of such conflict, it is important to know and to understand who you are and why you think and feel the way you do. 

When your thinking and behaving match your values, life is good. You feel satisfied, content, and at peace. But when your thoughts and actions do not align with your values, you feel tentative, off-balance, and filled with inner turmoil.

Consider Romans 7

The Apostle Paul understood conflicting values. He wrote to the Roman church:

I can anticipate the response that is coming: “I know that all God’s commands are spiritual, but I’m not. Isn’t this also your experience?” Yes. I’m full of myself—after all, I’ve spent a long time in sin’s prison. What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So, if I can’t be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God’s command is necessary.

But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.

It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.

I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?

The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different. (Romans 7:14-25 The Message)

Psalm 15Paul’s Conflict

The conflict is between the will of God revealed in the Law, and the grace of God revealed in Jesus Christ. The Law is “spiritual,” but Paul says he is not. So, he is struggling between living the life God wants him to live and the life he is living. His conflict is not between his “lower” nature and his “higher” nature but is upon being good enough on his own and upon relying upon God’s grace to live as a follower of Jesus.

Today, this conflict could be expressed between following the “words” of the scripture or following the “Word” to whom the scriptures point. 

David, in Psalm 15, reveals the values in his life.

GOD, who gets invited to dinner at your place? How do we get on your guest list? Walk straight, act right, tell the truth. Don’t hurt your friend, don’t blame your neighbor; despise the despicable. Keep your word even when it costs you, make an honest living, never take a bribe. You’ll never get blacklisted if you live like this. (Psalm 15, The Message)

Notice that David said the person who enjoys the presence of God, who gets invited to dinner, “walks straight, acts right, tells the truth.” Because this person values truth in her heart, her words express truth. Because she values kindness, she “doesn’t blame her neighbor.” Because she values honesty, she keeps her word even when it hurts. Because she makes an honest living, “she never takes a bribe.” 

Regardless of what might happen around him, David could live with confidence that the right principles shaped his values and guided his decisions. That confidence gave him emotional and spiritual stability. It enabled him to be the person God could use for God’s glory. 

As you examine your own life, what values do you see shaping your behavior? Maybe a better question is, what values do you want to shape your behavior?

As with Paul, many of you hold certain values, but you live differently from what you say is important to you. Unless you are intentional in discovering and understanding your values you will be shaped by the values of others.

You can’t have a set of values for work, another set for home, and still another set for your friends or for the church. Your goal should be to completely integrate your values into all areas of your life. 

What Informs Your Life?

When you know and honor your values, life is good. So, here is what I want you to do. Decide now, this moment, to give yourself 30 minutes to reflect upon the following (10 minutes for each):

  1. Identify the times when you were your happiest.

  • What were you doing?
  • Who were the people with you?
  • What were you thinking and feeling?
  • What really made you happy?
  1. Identify the times when you were most proud

  • Why were you proud?
  • Who were the people who shared your pride?
  • What did you think and feel at the moment?
  • What gave you your feelings of pride?
  1. Identify the times when you were most fulfilled and satisfied

  • What need or desire was fulfilled?
  • How and why did the experience give you meaning?
  • Were there other people who shared the moments with you? Who?
  • What else added to your feelings and fulfillment?

To reflect upon these questions will give you insight into what informs your life. You will discover and affirm what is important in the way you live, work, and make decisions. 

What is important to you?

Glenn Adsit was a minister in China. Toward the end of his tenure, he and his family were held captive in their house by the government. They could not leave their house to go to the fruit market without soldiers accompanying them. Then one day, while under house arrest, several soldiers came to them and said, “You can return to America.”

Glenn and his family were celebrating when the soldiers said, “You can take two hundred pounds with you. We will be back tomorrow to get you.”

They had been there for years. How were they going to get everything down to two hundred pounds? They got the scales out and began to weigh everything. That is when the family argument began. There were two children, a wife, and a husband. What about this vase? We just bought the typewriter. What about my books? They weighed everything. Finally, they had two hundred pounds down to the ounce. 

The next day, the soldiers came to get them. “Ready to go?” they asked.

“Yes.”

“Did you weigh everything?”

“Yes.”

Then the soldiers asked, “Did you weigh the kids?”

Glen replied, “No, we didn’t.”

They said, “Weigh the kids.”

It was at that moment, that the typewriter, vase, and everything else was not important.

So, what is important to you? When you know and honor your values, life is good. Are you living the way you want to live? Is life turning out the way you want it to turn out? 

Today, you have the opportunity to do something about it. What one thing are you going to do? 

Sometimes when I sit down to write “The Bias Opinion,” I do not know what to write.  Even though I have more than my share of opinions, I do not see myself as a writer.  So, often times writing comes slowly and with some pain.  Not physical pain, but the pain of not being able to express myself the way I want to in the written word.

Today is one of those days.

So, I am just going to let a couple of my thoughts and opinions flow.  Hopefully, I can and will express myself in an intelligent and Christian way that will be in service to our work together.

Where Have All the Christians Gone?

Recently, I have been reflecting on a couple of issues.  One of the issues focuses upon the condition and position of the United Methodist Church. I have been asking myself, “Where have all the Christians gone?”

Now, I know most of us say we are followers of Jesus, but, friends, we are known by our fruits.  What fruits are we producing?

 

The Church that Forms

My life and ministry have been shaped by the church. It was the church that pointed me to Jesus and taught me the Jesus way of living. The church taught me that my relationships with the people of this world are shaped and directed by my relationship with God. Those relationships when shaped by Jesus are characterized by mutual love, respect, trust, and vulnerability.

  • It was in the church that I experienced that the last are first and first are last and where those who hunger and thirst, physically, spiritually, emotionally find what is needed to be who God created them to be.
  • It was the church where I experienced that there was room at the table for everyone: regardless of economic status, whether they had positions of power or were marginalized with no one to call family or a place to call home.
  • It was in the church where I learned that the kingdom of God knows no geographic boundaries, no political parties, no single language or culture.  It was the church that taught me that life was not about power and might but about acts of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

What Has Happened to the Church?

Over the past several weeks, months, even years, I have wondered “what has happened to the church where my faith was born, shaped, and nurtured?” Have we lost our focus? Have we lost our identity in Christ?

  • Where is “love one another as I have loved you” being practiced?
  • Where is “don’t use harmful words, but helpful words, the kind that builds up and provides what is needed, so that what you say will do good to those who hear you” being lived out?
  • Where has “they will know we are Christians by our love” gone?

Are we so focused upon ourselves that we no longer follow Jesus? Are we so blind that we are not aware of God expressed in the everyday, ordinary acts of love and kindness?

I have begun to think that we are like Herman, the 90-year-old gentleman who was driving down the interstate. His cell phone rang.   It was his wife.  She said, “Herman, I just heard on the news that there is a car going the wrong way on I-71. Please be careful!”

Herman answered, “It’s not just one car, Dear, it is hundreds of them!”

Tell me that is not where we are at as a church? You do know that the chief sin of a good person is thinking that your experience defines reality.  What if, like Herman, you are right in all the wrong ways?

So, what do we do?

Where You Begin Matters

For years, I assumed that the church pointed me and the world to God.  Boy, have I been naïve. What I have learned is this, if we begin with the church, the kingdom of God may or may not be recognized. But, if we begin with Jesus, the church becomes an instrument to participate in the kingdom of God.  When we begin with Jesus we can and will point people to the reminders of God’s love.

So, what do we do?

Pointing People to Jesus quote Transforming MissionPoint People to Jesus

I have been in conversation with a friend and colleague.  In our conversation, we recommitted ourselves to this: “Let’s point people to Jesus.”  That means you and I need to be related to Jesus, constantly nurturing and deepening our relationship with Jesus and with one another.

If we are going to point people to Jesus, then Jesus is to lead and we are to follow.  We must get out of the way and let Jesus have his way.

Will this be easy?

No!

It will require integrity, choosing courage over comfort, what is right over what is fun, fast, and easy.  It means practicing our values, not just professing them.

Valuing Jesus Means Encountering Jesus

If Jesus is the center of our faith, the reason for our faith, and the invitation to faith, we are saying we value Jesus.  And if we value Jesus, we need to do more than giving Jesus lip service. We need to be constantly looking for, pointing people to, and inviting people to encounter Jesus.

So, if you get frustrated, like I do, because people around you are focusing on issues, what are you doing to circle back and to focus on Jesus?  If you get frustrated when there are inconsistencies in actions, what are you doing to point out the inconsistencies? What are you doing to circle back and to attempt consistency again?

I know it is not easy. But here is where the rubber hits the road.

Growing In Grace

You and I are not perfect. The church is not perfect. But we are growing in grace. Growing in grace, God’s grace, is one of the highest, if not the highest, values we hold.  God is not finished with any of us yet. We’re on the way to becoming more like Jesus, so let’s stop getting in the way of Jesus.

Maybe the best I have to offer today is this: let’s point people to Jesus in the midst of this lousy, screwed-up, glorious community called the church, which by God’s grace is enough.

Well, I have taken all my space expressing only one opinion.  So, I’ll keep the rest of my opinions to myself until next time.  Until then, will you join me in pointing people to Jesus?

 

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Pointing People to Jesus Transforming Mission

When do you do it?

John Wimber, the founder of the Vineyard Christian Fellowship, tells the story of the first time he attended worship in a Christian church. He said he didn’t know what to expect, but what he thought was going to happen did not happen. After attending worship for three Sundays, he became frustrated.

One Sunday, after worship, he approached a man who looked like someone with authority.

Wimber asked, “When do you do it?”
The man, who was an usher that morning, asked, “When do we do what?”
Wimber answered, “You know, the stuff,”
The usher replied, “And what stuff might that be?”
Wimber said, becoming more frustrated by the moment, “The stuff in the Bible.”
Now the usher is frustrated, “I still don’t understand. Help me. What do you mean?”
Wimber said, “You know, multiplying loaves and fish, feeding the hungry, healing the sick, giving sight to blind people. That stuff.”
The usher replied somewhat apologetically, “Oh, we don’t do that. We talk about it and pray about it, but we don’t actually do it. No one really does it, except maybe those crazy fundamentalists.”

What does the church value?

The values of the church in the above story are revealed through the actions and inactions of the congregation. Anyone of our congregations will reveal who we are to the community through our actions and inactions with the people we encounter.

Often our values are unnamed. When this is the case, it is only when a conflict of values occurs, that we become aware of what we value. As a congregation, when conflicts arise around core values, consider whether you have stated your core values.

But don’t stop there.

Name the behaviors that bring the values to life. When you do, you’ll be better able to encourage people as well as define expectations of within the church culture. people understand the expectations of following Jesus. Afterall The core values point to who we are as Jesus followers.

After all, if our core values are going to help reveal who we are as Jesus followers, they will propel us to action. If this seems like a challenge, remember, you’re not alone on this journey. Scripture reveals the conflict of values that can unfold as we encounter the love of Jesus.

As a leader, consider exploring the core values of your congregation. Then, identify the behaviors that accompany the values. You'll be better able to encourage your congregation to follow Jesus. Find out more on the blog. #values #church #jesus #faith #transformingmission Transforming MissionA Conflict of Values in Scripture

Look at the story in John, chapter 9. It was the Sabbath day. A blind man comes to Jesus for healing. With a little spit, dirt, and a loving touch, Jesus restores the man’s sight. You would think the church would rejoice and celebrate this miracle performed in their very midst. But they are working from a different set of values.

A theological debate breaks out. It goes like this:

Part 1

“Wait a minute, doesn’t this man know that it’s against the law to heal on the Sabbath? The man must be a sinner, or he wouldn’t break the law like that.”
“Yes, but if he’s a sinner, how did he heal the blind man?”
“Well maybe the guy was just pretending to be blind.”
“His whole life he’s been pretending to be blind? I just don’t think he could pull that off. He’s not that smart, you know. He’s never even been to school. What would have been the point? You can’t teach a blind man to read and write.”
“Well, let’s go ask his parents. They ought to know.”

Part 2

So off they go to question the man’s parents.

“Is this your son?”
“Well, yes, he looks like our son, except for the fact that he can see and our son has been blind all his life.”
“Well, how could it be that he’s been blind all his life, but now he can see?”
“I don’t know! You’ll have to ask him.”

So, they question the man again.

Part 3

I can imagine this conversation going like this: “Hey you. Yes, you, the one who was once blind. You! What is going on here? We better get some answers from you, or you’re going to be in serious trouble.”

And the man replies, “Look, I really don’t know how to answer you. All I know for sure is that I was blind until Jesus came along, and now I see. Can’t you just accept that and leave me alone?”
“Oh, we’ll leave you alone, all right. Get out of here, and don’t come back! Find someplace else to go to church!”
Now, why would they do that? The answer is, or at least my answer is, they are operating out of a different set of values. Even though they say they are God’s people, they are revealing a different identity.Your value comes not in what you do or accomplish. Your value comes in following Jesus. As a leader, consider exploring the core values of your congregation. #values #church #jesus #faith #transformingmission Transforming Misssion

Walk As Children of the Light

This story reveals a conflict of values. The one who was born blind learns to walk in the light, while those who were gifted with normal sight choose to remain in darkness.

When we consider our own calling to “walk as children of light,” it’s easy to recognize which character in the story we ought to imitate. Like the man born blind, we too have been restored by our encounter with Jesus. We too have been saved by God’s free grace, and our eyes have been opened to see the world in a new, counter-cultural way.

If God’s grace is a value we’re willing to claim, our response to God’s grace will also come from our values. The challenge is, when aspirational values lead the way, we leave people wondering, “Is this who we are?” “Is this what defines us?” Instead of questioning who we are, let’s help people celebrate who we are as followers of Jesus.

Our core values motivate and sustain our behavior over the long run. Our values guide our behavior as well as our relationships with one another and with the community. Let’s be intentional in developing, sharing, and teaching the core values that focus our ministry and mission. When we do, we’ll be better able to help others encounter Jesus – the One who feeds, heals, and gives us eyes to walk as children of the light.

So let it be.

What’s Your Next Step?

  1. Download the Congregational Core Values Companion Sheets. You’ll be guided through leading local church leadership in identifying the congregation’s core values and the accompanying behaviors the church seeks to encourage.
  2. Listen to LeaderCast Episode 062: Are You Walking Your Talk? A conversation about congregational core values and behaviors
  3. Participate in Following Jesus Every Day: Galatians, Gospel of Gracea daily Bible Study that invites you to read, reflect, and respond to Scripture every day. We’ll deliver an email to your inbox each morning to help you journey through the book of Galatians. Sign up today! We’re starting April 22.