This post was actually requested after I told a friend about a personal growth side journey. He said, “You gotta write about it, Vance!” Why was he excited?
It’s about discovering your non-negotiable personal values. Some things we’ll bend on or compromise. The question is which ones will you never compromise?
It began with an article by Charles Stone entitled Ask Yourself these 7 Simple Questions to Clarify your Personal Values. I linked to it in its title. He suggested a half-day retreat to work through them, however, I needed a week due to workload.
I’m not listing them, it’s worth reading this article for them. I will tell you the areas he covers.
- Your delights
- Your past joys
- Moments of peak performance
- Your heroes
- Input from others
- Personality inventories like StrengthsFinder and Meyers/Brigg
I’m naturally introspective so a lot of these I literally had on file. Especially the inventories.
Going Through 4 of the 7 Areas
- Delights: Serving and helping others. Studying and teaching. High-level conversations. Playing with kids.
- Past Joys: That pretty much involved being a cool superhero who had the perfect life. Naturally, I had to daydream it. My idea of the best life has changed since then.
- Peak Performance: My marriage. Every book I publish. When I successfully help someone, and working and living my purpose.
- Heroes: I debated not listing them for fear of embarrassing them, however, I believe people should know the impact they make in others’ lives. Jesus, of course. Casey. Daisy. Pastor Rod. Pastor Jaime. Bobby. Captain America. Superman. Batman. You knew superheroes would come into play.
The other three areas came from input from others including heroes, high-impact Scriptures that resonate in my life, and personal inventories such as Leading From Your Strengths, StrengthFinders, Enneagram, and How You Fascinate. I’ll summarize them in the next step of finding the common themes.
What Kept Popping Up Throughout The Questions
Five areas came up and I listed the Bible verses from the sixth question to the corresponding themes. Personal values are stronger when backed by Scripture and not just our whims.
- Theme 1: A life of service.
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? James 2:14
But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. James 2:18
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Romans 12:1
Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 2 Timothy 2:22
- Theme 2: A life of learning and thought so I can become better and help others.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2
Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will. 2 Timothy 2:23-26
Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:5-6
- Theme 3: Loyal and trustworthy, open, calm, and always striving to do what’s right.
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. James 1:19-20
Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 1 Corinthians 8: 9, 12
“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others. 1 Corinthians 10: 23-24
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33
- Theme 4: My strengths and purposes are to help others with various issues.
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Matthew 9:36
who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 2 Corinthians 1:4
We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. Romans 12:6-8
- Theme 5: Hardworking dedication.
Bringing It All Together
My true north values that I won’t deviate from is service, continually learning and applying, loyalty, trustworthiness, and to always do what’s right, good work ethic, dedication, and flexibility.
If it’s something that keeps me from helping others, stops me from learning, asks me to betray Christ, my principles or others, and to do less than my best—I won’t do it.
This is how it breaks down:
- Service–helping others, either on a team or alone, physically or through teaching or counseling, either in the front or the background.
- Continually Learning and Applying–to better me and my ability to help others.
- Loyalty, Trustworthiness, and Always Trying To Do What’s Right–true to others and myself.
- Good Work Ethic, Dedication, and Flexibility–either doing my best in the background in a support role (natural strength) or stepping up to lead from the front (adapted strength).
Understanding yourself is good because you can address your flaws, focus on your strengths, and stay accountable to your values. Integrity is in such short supply these days so if we can cultivate a true integrity, we can be even brighter in a dark world.