New Year Values Audit
I typically like to send out a reflection device for the new year to members of my congregation. Sometimes it’s a worksheet, one year we wrote “letters to the new year”, sometimes it’s just some thoughts to ponder. As I mentioned in my sermon last Sunday this year I was thinking “values audit”. What does it look like to evaluate how well our life is being lived by our core values? For some of us, that may mean even needing to identify, “what are my core values?” I think you will find we have many, and not all of them are as fundamental to our identity as others… I typically group my values into three categories:
These are things that are so important to me that to betray these values is to betray myself. These may be about family, faith, politics, personal and public economics. Regardless these are life-long enculturated and nurtured truth claims. When I find myself in a heated argument with someone it is likely because one of these values is “at stake” in the argument.
These are values I cling to but have some more give than central, core, or fundamental values. Many of these I will think of as essential values until they rub up against those core values and then they always take a back seat.
These are things you like and want to be… but they are major motivators of your actual priorities. Again, for me, what sets each tier of value apart is which ones win out (most often) when they come into conflict.
When you are “too busy” you will choose which values win.
When “money is tight” you will choose which values you put your money towards.
The Gospel of Matthew makes an important point when it says “where your treasure is, there your heart is also,” no values audit is complete without opening your checkbook or your online banking records, and seeing where your money actually goes… a budget is a values statement. So too is our family calendar because it measures the time we are willing to give to different things… and the time we are willing to give is a demonstration of values.
The point of a values audit in short is to say… does it turn out that things I would claim are central values regularly lose out in actual practice to things I claim are not? If so… I’m deceiving myself about the importance of those values or I have allowed myself to lose track of my priorities. I have lots more to say on the subject… but I think the point here is to offer you a chance to do the talking, to yourself. So, I invite you to engage yourself in your own values audit. Be honest and be open to learning things you aren’t proud of and celebrate things you haven’t given yourself credit for, and then figure out – what do I want to change here. Through it all, be grace-filled – honest interrogation can also be done gently and with care…self-care. And most likely this is also a conversation you will need to have with people in your life for whom those changes will matter because it will affect them, or you will need them to help hold you to the changes you wish to make. We cannot do it alone (central value alert!)
For further conversation about conducting your own values audit, here is a way to frame the conversation that may prove helpful: https://medium.com/the-ascent/why-i-gave-myself-a-values-audit-c1ade51af6a
And I hope this exercise proves insightful and fruitful for you.