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  • Writer's pictureDavid Shipley

What do you value? (Part 1)

Updated: Sep 6, 2019

Did you make any 2019 resolutions? Maybe you resolved to eat healthier, stare at fewer screens, or give more thanks.

Here’s a mid-2019 resolution: Memorize the Ten Commandments. Start with this pretest: Take one minute, no Bible (gasping!) and no internet (dying!) to write the Ten Commandments from memory.

How’d you do? You can check your work here and also here.

Here’s a second mid-2019 resolution: Take five minutes and state your top five personal values. You may use a Bible and the internet.

Dr. Adam Price, in his book He’s Not Lazy, created the exercise below as a discussion prompt between parents and their teenage son when discussing personal values.

Succinctly writing our personal values is challenging. An even greater challenge is accurately articulating the values of someone close to you—a friend, a co-worker or a spouse.

I believe we avoid this challenge at our personal peril. What I really value in a given moment can clash with what my wife values in that same moment. Borrowing from Price’s list, imagine “being with people” and “having time to smell the flowers” meet head on. I want to be with people; she wants to soak up her peaceful surroundings. Both are good. But good values, when not shared, clash. This causes heat, friction and frustration.

Have you experienced a clash of values with a sibling? Or a co-worker? A stranger? We’re human, so we don’t need to think too long before we recall how we’ve paid a price for avoiding this challenge.

Come with me one step further. Timothy Keller shares the following quotation in his book Encounters with Jesus. He quotes the poet W.H. Auden, who reflects upon the great and terrible clash of values of the 1930s & 40s (i.e. World War 2):

“If I am convinced that the highly educated Nazis are wrong, and that we highly educated English are right, what is it that validates our values and invalidates theirs?”

Marital tension sparks from a couple’s colliding personal values. Nations divide and destroy when their morals collide. I hear Auden pleading for a basis upon which some values (e.g. that innocent Jews are worthy of life and liberty) are simply greater and more righteous than others.

This first and simple step of articulating my values reveals just how distorted my values can become or, at the very least, how out of touch I am with what I truly value.

A second step is appreciating how clearly and simply others can articulate their values.

Dr. Price offers a helpful list of fifty-four value items. Again, try his exercise yourself. Share it with a spouse. Offer it to a student (and be sure to listen!).

It’s a helpful list, but I confess, fifty-four items is a very long list to keep track of.

Can you trim it down to ten? Have you figured out where I'm headed with this?

I’d like to use this post as an introduction to a discussion of the Ten Commandments. So, if you made it through Part 1, please consider sharing, subscribing and commenting. And stay tuned for Part 2 “What does God value?”

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