If you study Paul’s life, you can find the principles that made his mission work. Paul's mission worked because he was anchored by the values he held. No matter what opportunity or distraction came into his ministry, he had high values that were non-negotiable to help guide the decisions he made in his ministry.
Some of the things we learn from his ministry:
- He would not take financial support from the churches he was starting (I Corinthians 9:1-18)
He would not work where someone had already labored to start a church (Romans 15:14-22)
- He always visited the synagogue first when arriving in an area (Acts 13-19)
- He traveled in the company of a team
- He determined not to insist on a Jewish lifestyle as he visited diverse cultures and people (Galatians 2:14-16)
Defining Your Governing Values
Paul knew why he was doing what he was doing and he had the wisdom to define values that would dictate how his ministry was going to look. We, as Christian ministries, need to consider his example.
Paul’s success wasn’t a matter of chance. At least part of his success came from the fact that he had a set of values that served to guide the decisions he made—both in his work and his life. And he didn’t need to impose these values on others. These values belonged to him; shaped by his own experience and understanding of what God wanted him to do.
Not many organizations can tell you right now what governs their decisions and practices. In the pursuit of finding meaning, most organizations are tempted to do and do and do without slowing down to consider what would work best to fulfill their ministry goal.
We have an opportunity to be different. We can be ministries who slow down and define for ourselves what is good and right. When given definition, our values, or our non-negotiable boundaries, will lead us to see clearer and function with more purpose and direction. Our governing values are going to be the foundation of our fulfillment. As you take steps to define your values, you will become part of a tiny majority of organizations who take the time and feel the power that comes from having established boundaries.
"We can choose the sounds we want to listen to; we can choose the taste we want in food, and we should choose to follow what is right. But first of all, we must define among ourselves what is good." Job 34:3-4.
How to Define Your Values
An excellent way to understand what your values are is to consider what motivates your ministry. Motivation is closely related to our value systems, desires, needs, and ambitions.
Answer these questions:
- What do we value most?
- What consumes our time?
- What is the deepest desire of our ministry?
If given enough time, anyone would be able to answer these questions. Herein lies the danger of not slowing down long enough to do it—you are developing values, whether you can articulate them or not.
The problem is that when you do not purposefully decide what matters to you, life and the things that eat up your time will begin to decide for you and your ministry. You may end up putting all of your energy on values that are not worth the effort required to fulfill them.
You can logically expect your ministry values to grow and mature as your leadership also grows. Time is too valuable to waste the years "just leading". Now is the time to define what you want your values to be for your ministry, and then from there, you can let those values dictate your activities and help you make decisions.
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