When Teddy Roosevelt was asked to give a speech to the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, on June 2, 1897, readiness was his theme. He insisted the only way to keep peace was to be ready for war, and the only way to be ready for war was to enlarge the Navy. It what a arousing, patriotic speech.
The following February, the Maine was blown up, killing 264 sailors, and Americans across the land cried, “Remember the Maine!” In April, President McKinley asked Congress to declare war.
Not surprised that he backed the war effort, most Americans were surprised when Teddy Roosevelt resigned from his position as assistant secretary of the Navy three weeks after the declaration…so that he’d be ready to fight. His friends told him he was crazy for throwing away his political future.
His wife was against it. Yet all who knew Roosevelt well knew, even as they made them, that their protests were in vain. He had to join the effort. He later wrote that he wanted to be able to tell his children why he had fought in the war, not why he hadn’t fought in it. As far as he was concerned, a person simply couldn’t preach one thing and then do another.
An honorable person is an individual who keeps their word. Credible individuals know that it is through their visible actions that their true commitment is demonstrated. By taking a stand, these people let others know that they are willing to put their personal careers or security on the line in service of the principle. So what is worth taking a stand for? What are your values?
According to the late Milton Rokeach, one of the leading researchers and scholars in the field of human values, “A value is an enduring belief that a specific mode of conduct or end-state of existence is personally or socially preferable to an opposite or converse mode of conduct or end-state of existence.”
Values inform individuals about what to do and what not to do. They are the guiding principles in people’s lives with respect to the personal and social end they desire, such as salvation or peace.
When your values are clear, you know what to do – you don’t have to rely upon direction from someone in authority. Your values are the core, the foundation, of your identity. Whether you realize it or not, you live your life according to your values. Some people are in prison because their values guided them their.
It’s important to understand that what you believe at your deepest level is what you hold to be true. Many people find their values from their family of origin. Others get their values from society, media or friends. Yet all of these will be tainted by sin as every person is broken by sin and in need of a Savior.
If you want to ensure that your values are “level” you must align yourself with the Word of God. While the Bible does not specifically type out a list of values, we can look at the values that are taught within it.
- Obey the 10 Commandments (Deuteronomy 5:29; Ecclesiastes 12:13)
- Have faith and trust in God (Psalm 37:3; Mark 11:22)
- Love God with all your heart (Luke 10:27)
- Love your neighbor as yourself (Luke 10:27)
These are just a few of the values listed in the Bible. It’s important to note, however, that your actions, your history and your behavior will reflect what you truly value. It doesn’t matter what position you hold, how much money you have, or how famous you are – it always boils down to character. In my experience, many people actually have some key values they have not framed in words but they live out in their behavior.
There is a consistency in how they live, and their values matter to them. At the same time, however, some people have some other values that are running things, and these need to be looked at. These are values that you might be oblivious to, but they play a very important role in your life.
The people who successfully change these problem areas (blind spots) and grow are those who invite feedback from supportive people in their life. They know that they aren’t capable of seeing the whole picture, and that others have an objective perspective.
Now, more than ever, our world needs to be touched by Christians who are Spirit-filled, Spirit-led, and Spirit-empowered. Our lives are to be characterized by patience, for it is important in developing the mature, stable character which God wants to produce in His people.
“Honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest.” Luke 8:15
As you align your values to God’s word, ask the Holy Spirit to bring to your attention any areas where your behavior may not be reflecting your heart. Remember, regardless of what you say your values might be, the reality is that what others perceive will be what they take away. Your desire is for your inner value to be consistently displayed in your outer behavior.
God bless you in your path to growth.
Christy Demetriades, Ph.D.