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Values: Do they really matter?

June 9, 2015

Values. When you hear that word, what do you think? Is it just idealistic stuff that doesn’t really matter? Things that sound great on paper or in a speech but in practice don’t have much relevance or substance? Could they only mean as much at the now infamous #EdStone?

Or could they be vital words that have real depth and meaning? Could Values be something that we genuinely ‘value’ because they inspire us to live better, to sustain us through the challenges and keep us fresh and focused when we have setbacks and doubts? If we really live out our values and they really mean something then surely they have a richness and quality that we ignore at our peril?

I remember sitting down with my good friend Richard over lunch a few years ago and he told me about the importance of values and in particular how he valued equality. What followed was amazing and inspiring to hear. His value of equality was not just some idealistic dream (although dreams and having vision are important) but a lived-out reality. He was actively campaigning for a living wage in the organisation he worked for, and as part of a wider network. He also talked about how he took the time to speak to people throughout the organisation and how he valued each person’s perspective and opinion irrespective of their role or title. He deeply held this value and he really lived it out in practice.

It got me thinking about my own values and whether I was really putting into practice what I believed and deeply cherished. I was particularly challenged about how I valued grappling with theology and the Bible, but how vital it was that my theology was lived out in practice rather than simply just being something that I read, studied and pondered on. It was reading Shane Claiborne’s book, The Irresistible Revolution that really challenged me to practice what I believed. For example I really value the idea of community and relationships but was challenged that I wasn’t very involved in anything local. As a family we got more involved in a community garden project and took time to review how we could build more relationships locally and value more where we lived. It has had a big impact on how I view and value others and renewed how we use and view our time. Having deeply embedded values can help us to be much more effective and decisive in a good way.

Who are the people or organisations that inspire you? What is it about them and their qualities that you admire? Could it be that some of the reasons they remain inspiring to us is that they have great integrity, honesty and clearly demonstrate that they live out their values and that their values really mean something.

The Common Cause website sets out why we need values and frameworks in order to bring about lasting and sustainable change:

‘To build a more sustainable, equitable and democratic world, we need an empowered, connected and durable movement of citizens. We cannot build this kind of movement through appeals to people’s fear, greed or ego. Such motivations tend to produce shallow, short-lived types of engagement. They are also likely to backfire, actually reinforcing values that undermine social and environmental concern.’

This video explains more about the importance of values:

Without deep roots and deep-rooted values we run the risk of burning out, running dry or being easily lead away from what we want to be about and what we want to achieve. Many of the issues that we are passionate about, such as tackling poverty, injustice and climate change are ones that require a long term approach. We need to keep motivated and to do that we need to experience regular ‘wins’, ‘milestones’ or moments of encouragement. We need deep values as well as great ideas and smart communications plans to help sustain us in the part we play in working for a more just and sustainable world.

The values of the Rhythms community are inspiring. I especially like the concept of ‘Together we are’ and the fact that we live, act and be in the context of community and relationships. We can’t do anything well on our own, we genuinely and vitally do need each other to inspire and make us.

What are your values? How are you seeking to live them out in practice as well as hold them as cherished beliefs? Take the time to write out five values that are really important to you. Are you living in a way that reflects these values? If not, what step could you take to better align your values and actions?

Do visit the Common Cause Website if you want to dig much deeper and read more.

This blog post was first published on Tearfund’s Rhythms platform as part of a Rhythm focused on the ‘Ordinary Heroes’ campaign.

One Comment leave one →
  1. June 9, 2015 10:59 pm

    “It is easier to fight for one’s principles, than it is to live up to them” – Alfred Adler

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