Friday, October 27, 2006

The Foundation - Core Values

Note: Updated 10/29/06, to finalize the report I plan to present to my peers.

At our recent leadership conference, we were given Task #2: "State, in writing, your core values. Dig deep. Look beyond just behaviors, to the deepest core of what is most important to you."

As a Christian, I think these are laid out for us (meaning that I believe the Bible is the eternal, inerrant Word of God and is the ultimate guide to everything, as opposed to this). The hard part is narrowing it down to which are most important to me. I think the fact that so many people cannot articulate their core values is at the root of dysfunction in our society. How can we all get along if we don't even know what our core values are, let alone agree on them? I also think we confuse cultural differences for value differences and vice versa, which leads to further dysfunction, even by well-meaning people. My friend, Beau (Jen's husband), encouraged me to read a good book (The Abolition of Man, C.S. Lewis), and suddenly the mystifying subject of moral relativism became much clearer. It's an easy read (if you have time to read it twice, once to let it wash over you and a second time to digest) but also very powerful and I understand now why he uses it in his political philosophy classes. So, without trying to justify or explain these too much (because there is a whole world out there, filled with much better literature on this subject than I am capable of spouting off here and now), here are my core values, the things that I think important, the "rules" I try to live by, the intangibles that clarify the decision-making process for me:

Faith - the means to deep, relevant relationships (trust, honesty, integrity, consistency, commitment); relationships help us to see the beauty in others as well as ourselves; this value has as much to do with worldly relationships as it does the spiritual ones; people are our most important resource.

Hope - conviction that God is always present and that all things will be worked out for good (optimism; the power of positive thinking; call it what you will but I crave being around people who are full of hope)

Charity (love) - loving the unlovely (it's easy to love the lovely; love is the opposite of selfishness; without love, life is flat and lacks purpose) .

Justice - this is a difficult value to define; I tend to think of it in legalistic terms like fairness and equality, but God calls on us to take care of those who are disadvantaged, whether they deserve it or not.

Joy - A quality of being (that we choose), not just an emotion; it sustains us over the long haul, even when our circumstances may lead to unhappiness (as with hope, I crave being around people who don't wallow in their circumstances but are able to see beyond them and find joy).

Peace - diplomatic, healthy communications in resolving conflict, both internal (spiritual) and external (familial, communal, global, etc); Jim gave us plenty of scripture to support this core value, in this post.

Grace - forgiveness and giving others more than they deserve; living according to a person's potential rather than by obligation (doing the right thing even when no one is watching) ; we saw a perfect example of grace when the Amish responded to the recent school shootings in Pennsylvania. Beautiful response.

Stewardship - selflessness; a strong work ethic; perfectly captured in this line of scripture: "From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded, and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked." Luke 12:48

Monty Python and The Holy Grail - this is the real deal breaker; if you don't enjoy this movie and can't find a way to enjoy it, then I'm afraid we just can't be friends. ;-)

Well, that was fun. It will be interesting to see how everyone else's core values compare and (hopefully) overlap.



At 9:48 AM, October 27, 2006, Blogger beth said...

Those are great, Gwynne. And I too love Lewis' _The Abolition of Man_.

I feel like I should say more - possiblysomething profound - but...I've got nothing.

At 10:07 AM, October 27, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

well, we can be friends because i agree with everything you said including the monty python thing. now, on the other hand, if you don't watch and enjoy the movie Kung Pow, we need to examine your qualifications as a friend

At 12:27 AM, October 28, 2006, Blogger Gwynne said...

Thanks, Beth. I copied off of your paper. ;-)

Susie, Kung Pow? Kung Pao? Uh oh. ;-)

At 4:08 PM, October 30, 2006, Blogger Eric said...

Excellent, and thought-provoking, as usual. But I think you pulled a punch on your comment about "justice." I probably won't articulate this very well, but there's a thought swirling around that the acknowledgment that evil is real -- that it does exist and that it's actively at work in our world, physically and spiritually -- would seem to be a necessary part of the concept of justice.

By the way, I'm not trying to second-guess your core values, or suggest that they should be anything other than or beyond what you wrote. Writing these things out just helps me in my own consideration of such issues.

At 6:10 PM, October 30, 2006, Blogger Gwynne said...

Eric, I think evil does need to be addressed as part of justice...good point. I don't think that God intends for us to tolerate evil when he calls us to take care of the disadvantaged, if that's the punch I threw. As for my core values, equality and fairness are what I was keyed in on.

At 6:57 PM, October 30, 2006, Blogger Eric said...

Oh, no...I didn't mean to imply that you implied what you just wrote. I was simply gnawing on the thought that if we truly advocate justice, then there will be times when judgment is required, and righteous judgment requires moral clarity, and moral clarity demands that we be able to paint a line between good and evil.

Sorry for stumbling down an irrelevant rabbit trail.

At 7:27 PM, October 30, 2006, Blogger Gwynne said...

That's anything but an irrelevant rabbit trail! And well said. I know we are often hesitant to "be judgemental" ("that's God's job," and all that), but you're absolutely right...we have a responsibility to be judgemental (and to seek moral clarity so that we can know where the line between good and evil lies). Thanks for pointing that out. I wasn't thinking along those lines at all.

At 12:18 AM, October 31, 2006, Blogger Gwynne said...

And implied in that last comment, I'm assuming there are moral absolutes. Without 'em, there is no line, or at best, the line is blurry and without meaning.

At 3:50 PM, November 02, 2006, Blogger Catez said...

We say ni! to the moral relativists.


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