And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. –Colossians 3:17
All couples have values. The problem is we get so caught up in the day-to-day problems of life that we don’t have the time or energy to think much about our values. It’s hard enough to make it till the weekend, let alone develop and then live out our priorities according to our values. However, we have seen couples and families transformed by writing out their values, posting them, and periodically looking back at those key standards that they want to live out daily. We have a Burns Family Constitution on our refrigerator. When our kids were younger, we came up with it together. It is made up of the ideals we want to live by.
Recently in a small group, we re-created our own personal values and values as a couple through dialoging and then writing them out. It was incredibly inspiring as well to see the values other people have chosen. In many ways it is like a mission statement. Your values drive your daily decisions in life, marriage, and family.
For example, the statement of our good friends Terry and Sharon looks like this: “Our mission is to develop and maintain harmonious relationships with God, each other, family, and friends.” They also wrote how they would accomplish their mission. One couple took seven topics and wrote values along with these priorities: God, Spouse, Family, Work, Friends, Ministry, and Me. When you have taken the time to write out your values and share them with your spouse, there is a built-in accountability with each other as well as a closeness that transpires.
Here are Jim’s thirteen values:
1. Serve God diligently and enjoy Him forever.
2. Focus on my family, giving them priority: Cathy, children (and extended family to a lesser degree).
3. Be true to my calling in ministry.
4. Be a person of integrity and a steward of the gifts God has given me with time, talent, and treasure.
5. Seek wise counsel. “Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14 NKJV).
6. Do life with honor and integrity. “The man of integrity walks securely” (Proverbs 10:9).
7. Find out where God is working and join in.
8. Treat others as if they were Jesus.
9. Take better care of my body, mind, and spirit this season.
10. Be in accountable, replenishing relationships.
11. Multiply and leverage our mission.
12. Finish well.
13. Think generationally.
We found it helpful to read other couples’ values before we created our own. Now it’s your turn. When Jim was in graduate school in Princeton, New Jersey, we came across many wonderful quotes by Albert Einstein, who did his life-changing work in that community. This was one of our favorites: “Try not to become a person of success, but rather a person of value.”