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Learning to Live Values

25 Mar Spiritual Formation | Comments Off on Learning to Live Values
Learning to Live Values

Giving Core Values More than Lip Service

Many ministries, businesses and non-profits have core values for their organizations/companies. You might find them posted on the wall when you walk into their facilities or discover them buried in a dusty manual somewhere. People may not think too much about them during the daily routine of life. They may even forget that they exist – a list of aspirational virtues that we never fully realized.

On the other hand, when they’re used intentionally, core values can be a great way to develop the DNA of an organization and understand what truly drives and defines them.

Core values for your team and/or staff (paid or volunteer) are also very valuable. It is not often thought of to have core values for those you work with, but they can provide a healthy culture for the ministry where you serve. And who doesn’t want a healthy, vibrant culture in their work place?


Our team, at CCM, recently attended a leadership conference that addressed different issues within ministries. As a group, we began deciding some of our paid staff core values. With prayer, discussion and lots of dialogue we narrowed our list down, and while it wasn’t a finalized list, it was an important start.

Next came perhaps the most difficult question: how to get it off the poster and into our daily lives?

Easier on Paper than in Practice

One of the team’s values is that we strive to make family a top priority. This is a pretty simple value at first glance, but it is very intentional and we’re continually reminded of how important it truly is. We know that in ministry one’s busyness, work duties and the needs of others can often (although usually unintentionally) become more important than the needs of our own families. At CCM, we minister to youth and families. If our own families are a mess, how can we possibly be reaching out to help others? We shouldn’t be. The fact is, we can’t offer something to others that we’re not experiencing ourselves, and so family is a top priority.


So what does this look like for our staff?

It is easy to say that family is first. However, it can be more challenging to live this out and at the same time make sure that ministry is moving forward and growing. Many days it feels like we’re facing an “either…or” decision.

For us, it involves accountability and transparency within the team. It also involves, saying “no” to good events, ideas and changes. It involves cutting back on programs and events and keeping our purpose in front of us. It requires investing in a few so that more can reach out and invest in others. And it involves making sure that we are evaluating and dialoguing on a regular basis. If people are always busy and stressed out, we know there is a problem.  If our team is on the same page, it helps when one of us feels guilty or frustrated. The team has to move, work and flow together to make this value work.

This is all tough work. Frankly, it’d be easier to just have everyone keep their head down and pushing forward, but the value comes from a deeper conviction – we want to love God and love others well. We want to be healthy followers of Jesus, who can invite others to follow Him as well. We want to be good spouses and parents and friends, not just good workers. And so we hold fast to a core value that requires us to say, “No” at times.


Getting Started with Core Values

Does your team have core values? If not, here are just a few suggestions to get started.

  1.  Talk to your staff/team about the purpose of core values and what it could do to enhance the culture.
  2. Consider working through some core values over a staff retreat day. Provide food and a great environment to create openness and dialogue.
  3. Core values should be verbs and not nouns. They should focus on action statements. Also encourage your team to keep away from one-word core values.
  4. Come up with several core values that mean the most to your team. They should be memorable and able to be evaluated.  You don’t want to have too many core values, boring values or ones that your team won’t remember or care about!
  5. Ask yourself, are you committed? If you are leading these discussions and implementing core values, you are opening yourself up as a leader. When you evaluate them during team/staff meetings, are you willing to let your team share their thoughts on these subjects, even if they may reflect on your leadership? This is just something to keep in mind as you move forward!

 Finally…pray. These values are to provide your team with a healthier culture!


Meredith Dahl
Executive Directory at Cross Connection Ministries
Meredith is the Executive Director of Cross Connection Ministries in New Holland, PA. She has received a Bachelor of Science in Student Ministry and a Master of Arts in Ministry (Concentration in Student Ministry) from Lancaster Bible College. Meredith and her husband live in New Holland with their baby boy Liam and love living, working and volunteering in their community.