November 21, 2018

Core Values Defined

Core Values are our deepest convictions regarding what‘s important—what we prize, treasure or admire. They guide or motivate attitudes and actions and are the fundamental ideals we esteem. While most people have many opinions and a medley of assumptions and are always changing them, they have a few values and fewer Core Values.

Six standards to judge a core value.

  1. Core Values Give Meaning to Actions

By their reactions, most people think other people and external circumstances control them. They judge themselves, victims, when they should seek to take control of their thoughts and actions.

In the business world, salespeople who see themselves as victims say things as, “They aren’t buying.” Students, who see themselves as victims say, “How am I supposed to know that?” Tardy employees say, “The alarm clock didn’t ring.” Victim athletes say, “The ball bounced the wrong way.” When you hear people say, “It’s not my fault,” you listen to the voices of people who see themselves as victims. Victims assume no responsibility for outcomes. Nothing is ever their fault. Things just happen to them.  

Standing in contrast to the victim’s belief that others or external circumstances control them is God’s word that says, “For as he thinks within himself, so he is” (Proverbs 23:7). God states that all people are accountable for their behavior. We are not helpless victims. It may come as a surprise to learn that you bear most of the responsibility for everything that happens to you. Your actions are the byproducts of the thoughts that occupy your mind and the values internalized in your heart.

  1. Core Values Determine Your Response to Circumstances

How you respond to circumstances is determined by your value set. So, the situation doesn‘t matter as much as your values. In the Bible, we find two different examples of people—at opposite ends of the worldly wealth spectrum—responding to their circumstances per their values.

The first example of values driving behavior is that of a “certain rich man” who found himself in a most pleasant predicament: his land had been productive and produced a bumper crop. So abundant was the produce which his barns could not contain the abundance.

Confronted with this problem, the rich man, reasoned to himself, saying, “What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?” And he said, “This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry’” (Luke 12:17-19).

God called this man a fool! That night, at the height of his selfishness, the rich man died. God’s question to him was, “who will own what you have prepared?” Ignoring the opportunity to help others, he tore down his barns and built bigger ones to store his abundance. Given a chance to help others, he chose not to help—even at the cost of his life.

What value system creates behavior that only lays up treasure for oneself here on earth, and not treasures in heaven? The rich man’s value system included: selfishness, greed, indifference, worry, and pride.

Now, contrast the rich man’s values and behavior with that of the poor widow recorded in the Gospel of Mark. Mark writes “One day as Jesus sat in the temple area opposite the treasury (that section of the temple court where thirteen collecting boxes were placed to receive offerings of money), He observed the crowd depositing their offering. Among the crowd were many wealthy people who put in large sums. But among the contributors was a poor widow who placed two small copper coins—a cent—in the treasury. Jesus called His disciple to him and summed up His observations in this statement. “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on” (Mark 12:42-44).

This pronouncement surprised the disciples. In their observation they had used the world’s value system while Jesus had used His Father’s; the disciples saw big money—Jesus saw a big heart.

This woman gave the smallest gift, but it was more generous than the others, for it was all she had. Jesus used this widow as an example of generosity. It wasn’t in the amount the woman gave but in her motive for the giving. She put her values into practice. She practiced unselfishness. So, she sacrificially gave. For the widow, the two small copper coins represented everything she had; she gave all.

It simplifies decision-making when your core values guide you.

  1. Core Values Are Never Goals

Once you achieve the goals then what? Buying a new vehicle or getting a degree are goals that inspire many people. But, with the car is in the driveway or the diploma is on the wall, the excitement wanes, and we must create new goals. Core Values are not targets to achieve; they are fundamental principles to gain. While Core Values are not goals, they guide in determining goals.