It’s very easy for us to sit on our high-horse and look down on the moral failures of the corrupt. It’s much more difficult for us to put ourselves in their shoes and still be willing to pay the price that it would have cost them to live by the right values. The truth is that our values don’t mean a hill of beans until we have to give up something to live by them.
There is no sense in priding ourselves on our values until they’ve been tested. A commitment to financial integrity doesn’t mean anything until you’re presented with a shady opportunity that could help you out of a tight spot. A commitment of faithfulness to your spouse doesn’t mean anything until you’re tempted during a rough patch in your marriage. Values don’t matter until they cost you something.
Here are 5 keys to living by your values:
1.) Be black and white. When it comes to values, grey areas are not helpful. You need clear lines that you’re committed not to cross. The more clear the lines are, the more clarity you’ll have when they’re tested. It’s OK (and healthy) to reassess your values from time to time, but don’t leave questions about values lingering. You don’t want to be faced with a decision and not have clear values to help guide you.
2.) Ground your values. Your values are only as good as their source. If you’ve based your values on the way you feel or think about something then your values will shift when you feel or think differently. If you base your values on something unchanging, you can rely on them to help guide you even when you’re an emotional wreck. Ground your values in the Word of God. Besides being unchanging, God’s Word is also true. You can trust that living by Biblical values will yield great success in whatever you do.
3.) Write them down and review them weekly. Not only does this help you make your values more black and white, but it keeps them in front of you every week. Simply reviewing what’s most important for you to live by will quickly expose the opposing opportunities that present themselves.
4.) Start small and early. Simply put, if you don’t make small sacrifices for your values today then you won’t make large sacrifices later. Take back the office supplies you brought home. Stop flirting with the receptionist. Be generous even if you only have a little. Go home and be with your family. Make the small choices today and you’ll have trained yourself to make big choices tomorrow. And when you do, write it down in a journal. Go back and reflect on how much better your life was because you gave up something for your values. This will encourage you in the future.
5.) Use Visioning. This might sound scary at first, but it’s really no big deal. All I’m saying is “see yourself” in a tempting situation and “watch yourself” make the right decisions. There is no need for the first tests of your values to be in real life. We have amazing imaginations. I have faced all kinds of situations in my mind long before ever facing them in reality. Because I had already “experienced” the moment, it was easy to stick to my values when the situation was real.
Are values important to you? Where do they come from and how do you live by them?