Naming our Values

One of the Lent resources I’ve been checking out periodically is the Creighton University Online Ministries Praying Lent series. One of the Lent reflecions they offer is titled Realigning Our Priorities. The thrust of the commentary is that Lent offers a good time to both review of what we value and evaluate hwo our actions compare with what we say we value. Since I do a values exercise as part of our semi-annual vocation retreat with law students that focuses on both of these elements, it is no surprise that I was drawn to this particular reflection.

One of the things that I found very helpful was the discussion of Naming My Values. The suggestion is that

I will try to be as explicit as possible. Instead of saying, “My kids,” I might spell out the values that are important to me in saying my kids are a value, e..g, “It is extremely important to me tha I be there for and with my kids when they are encountering key growth moments in their lives, in so many areas – homework time, for reflection time, in relationship struggles, in wins and losses, in relaxing and having fun.” We might want to “open up” our values,a s we name them. What does it mean to say I value “my faith” or “my relationship with God” or “service to others”?

This seems to me to be a very helpful approach. It is easy to simply rattle off a list of values – my family, community, health, etc. But simply naming values in general terms does not necessarily lend itself to any particular action. If we, instead, actually make some effort to refine our values in the manner suggested here, it might be easier to envision what the value might actually means in terms of concrete behavior. That might make it more likely we will act in accordance with our values.