Have you ever taken some time to consider what values your home is built around? If not, no worries. This might be a great family activity to try! But first, let’s talk about where the Bible speaks to this.
4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. (Deuteronomy 6:4-5)
The whole passage of Deuteronomy 6 is known as the “Shema” taken from the first word of verse 4 “hear” in Hebrew. It was a foundational passage for ancient Israel and even carried significance into the New Testament as Jesus quoted it a few times. In essence, the passage is about how to create a vibrant faith as a community and even at home.
Verse 5 tells us to love God with all of our “heart” and with all of our “soul.” How did the Hebrew people think of this in psychological terms? The heart was regarded as the center of a person in terms of their emotional and thought life. Decisions were made in a person’s heart. The soul was one’s source of life and vitality and was even synonymous with one’s “being.” The two terms “heart” and “soul” are a way of indicating that God wants our unreserved devotion, stemming from our whole selves.
Whether we know it or not, the devotion of our “heart” and “soul” is guided by our values.
Whether you are single, married, or have kids, it is a great idea to lead your life through the lens of values. In other words, what we choose to value will be vital for the direction of our life. Consider how the passage continues.
6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:6-8)
Here we see that our faith is not just a private experience, it also is to permeate into how we lead our families. Faith becomes conversational. It becomes a living part of our family’s lifestyle. And an important component of that is the values by which we choose to direct our family. It has been said: “Direction, not intention, determines destination.”
Creating a list of values helps ensure that a Jesus-centered life truly is our priority.
Remember, there are many values that could be selected that help center your life on Christ. Maybe your family values include responsibility, or bravery, or gratitude, or compassion. There are many words or phrases to choose from! Let Christ be your inspiration.
How do we create a list of values?
1) Start by brainstorming.
Have your brainstorming begin with prayer. Maybe you even pray about this for days or weeks! But when you are ready, sit down with your spouse (or if you are single you can do this yourself!) and talk through what words or phrases represent what is most important to you that you want to emphasize and that will guide your decisions and direction.
2) Narrow the list.
There is no right number of values, but the more concise, the more memorable. A good number might be between three to eight values. The right number will be flexible based on what is most helpful for you.
3) Personalize your final list.
These are your values. So write out descriptions and explanations of what this means for you and your family! Writing a paragraph or so helps instill why this value is chosen and important to your family. If you need a writing prompt, write the value (a word or phrase) and then answer the question: “Why does this matter?”
Here is an example of what this might look like…
We value Generosity – A willingness to give of ourselves because everything is a gift from God.
We believe that everything belongs to the Lord (Psalm 24:1), which means we are stewards of what we have. We are to be wise, take care of what we have, invest in ourselves, but never neglecting also taking care of those in need. God’s generosity toward us is the inspiration to be generous toward others. After all, happiness cannot be hoarded, it actually increases through our bountiful kindness (Acts 20:35).
So, you have your family values. Now what?
In order that they don’t become just words on some paper or document, consider ways in which you will live out these values. Talk about them regularly as a family. Model them in action when and where you can. You could even create some home decor where your family values are visible in your home. Again, the goal is that this exercise would be a joyous and creative way to think about how you and your family will follow the way of Jesus, emphasizing what values are near and dear to your heart.
What are your family values?