Values are those deeply held beliefs that give direction to our lives.

What do you Value?

Is it family, or honesty? What about your health? Maybe its, marriage or your faith? It could be your lifestyle or your child’s education. Do you know? If you do, how do you know? We might say we value something, but does that value come from a deep and reflective decision or have we heard somewhere that we “should” value this or that thing or idea?

It’s easy to say I value honesty, clear communication or constructive feed back, but are my actions consistent with those values? Am I honest, or do I shy away from the truth when it makes me uncomfortable? Do I communicate clearly or do I rely on guessing games or expect mind reading? Do I take full responsibility for my life, or do I refuse to take ownership of my decisions or actions, waiting for others to bail me out, run interference for me or carry my share of the burden. Do I welcome constructive feedback, or do I get defensive and lash out as I cling to my position? Sometimes saying we value something is easy, but living it out is another story.

A value is something that you feel strongly about; you believe in it and want it in your life. It’s so important to you that you are willing to sacrifice other things to make room for it or protect it. An ideal is different. Although it may begin as something we deeply desire, an ideal remains just a good idea when we aren’t willing to sacrifice for it; when we aren’t willing to put other things aside to protect it.

I don’t think we mean to live this inconsistency, I just think our understanding of values versus ideals can be a bit muddled at times. Our confusion often comes through the living of our day to day lives. The endless stream of important, worthwhile tasks and opportunities that flood our days can disorient us and cause us to believe in something we may not value. If we’re not careful, we can find ourselves getting so caught up in the “important and worthwhile” that we lose sight of the value; eventually realizing that what we are sacrificing is actually the very thing that we say we value.

How can we live lives consistent with our values? Its not hard; choose the values that you want to include in your life, and make decisions that support those values. Then, on a regular basis, evaluate where you are and the direction you are heading, asking the question, “Are my decisions and actions consistent with my desired values?

It may not be difficult, but it does require that we take the time to think, pray and decide on the values that we desire to include in our lives. It’s no mystery! We live in a complicated time that often challenges what we call a value. So, it’s more important than ever to be highly aware of how we spend our life’s resources and to pause long enough to make sure that those decisions are in line with our values.

Two life resources we can use as value indicators are, money and time. Let’s face it, bank accounts and calendars cannot lie. When it comes to our time and money, we spend it on what we value. Time and money are precious, and sometimes scarce resources, so when we make the decision to spend or sacrifice either of these resources we are stating the importance of that object, person, or activity in our life.

The way we live, what we say, and how we spend our life’s resources are all outward expressions of our values. The bad news is that sometimes our actions aren’t always consistent with what we say we value. The good news is that we can always change our behavior! The important thing is to identify your values, pause on a regular basis to evaluate your direction, and ask yourself, “Am I living a life that is consistent with my values?”