Examine, intentionality and discernment are key ways to integrate values into ministry and life.
How often do we honestly take time to examine our ministry in light of the values God has called us to as Youth With A Mission? If someone were to observe your team or ministry location, could they identify any or all of the values we teach and say that we live by?
Examine or evaluation is an important practice as teams and ministry locations. Honest evaluation on a regular basis helps us to stay true to our values and to recognize when one or more values are being neglected. This is not only done by one person or just the leader. It is a healthy practice to do as a staﬀ team. We all have blind spots that we are not aware of and diﬀerent team members will see how diﬀerent values are being integrated or not being integrated. It’s important that we listen to one another and allow for staﬀ to voice their concern if they feel one of the values or more are being neglected.
As a Discipleship Training School leader, I co-led a school with a younger woman who was leading a school for the ﬁrst time. Championing young people and working as a team were two of the values that our co-leading was expressing. What I found crucial to our success in leading together was a simple meeting we had every Friday afternoon. At the end of the week we would get together and ask how things went that week as far as us leading together? Did we communicate well? Did we overstep boundaries we had set up in the beginning of the school in regards to each of our responsibilities? Were either of us oﬀended by the other in some way? I found these meetings to be so helpful. Sometimes they were very short and we agreed that we were doing well. Other weeks we had things to talk through, discuss and clear up between us. We wanted these values to not just be statements of belief, we wanted them to be beautifully expressed in how we co-led together. For us, a weekly evaluation or examine of our leadership was absolutely crucial to stay on target in living out those values.
In teams, whether a team leading a school or an outreach, it is so important to create a practice of evaluation. As we identify values that we do not see strongly displayed, we can address these and ask some questions as to why these values not being expressed. We can gain much insight into our teams and individuals as we identify the values we struggle to exhibit. We can also gain insight as we recognize our strengths, the values that we easily live out and integrate.
Intentionality is another practice that contributes to us seeing the values fully expressed in our locations. It is such an important concept. It is especially crucial in our present culture where so much of what we do is done with the push of a button or a tap on a keyboard. We can easily lose our sense of responsibility and eﬀort in living out the values, especially as they require a purposeful eﬀort. The values are full of action verbs. We must be ready to take action and ask ourselves how intentional are we when it comes to the values? We read Value #9 – have a Biblical Worldview, but do our staﬀ understand what that is in practicality? A simple yet powerful way we integrated this value into ministry when I lived in Sarajevo was by picking up trash in our neighborhood. We lived in an area on the side of a mountain, with many green, grassy plots of land. At certain times those ﬁelds would be littered with trash that had blown out of the dumpster or had just been thrown there. We as a staﬀ spoke often about what a Biblical Worldview looks like lived out on a daily basis. As we prayed we were led to show what our worldview of the earth was and we physically expressed what it means to steward the earth, to care for the place where we lived. Our neighbors were astounded that we would pick up trash and we noticed in the following months that there was less and less trash just thrown anywhere. Living out that value physically aﬀected our neighborhood.
Our staﬀ turnover in many locations is quite high. As we welcome new staﬀ do we intentionally train them in not just a head knowledge of Biblical Worldview, but a daily practice of it? After being on staﬀ for many years, it is easy to forget that we need to constantly and intentionally talk about, discuss, evaluate and live out the values. It is not a one time orientation to the values, but an on-going practice. We intentionally pay attention to, train staﬀ and live them out day by day.
A third practice is discernment. We as leaders need to practice discernment in how well we are living and implementing the values. Discernment can take time. We must discern what God is saying to us concerning the values as we pay attention to global conversations. These are not easy processes, we need God’s wisdom to stay true to what He has called us. As I said earlier, we can often do what we have done before because it “worked” and forget that we need to be listening and discerning God’s voice in each and every school, seminar, outreach, etc. Value #12 is Do ﬁrst, then teach. Are we as school leaders and ministry location leaders using discernment as we invite people to speak into our communities, whether it be in a school or in a community meeting? Are we discerning that those we invite to share are living by this value, of doing ﬁrst and then teaching? This is a powerful value and one that acknowledges God’s authority on someone as they teach out of their life, not just from a prepared lesson. Discerning the seasons and the times for speciﬁc words, prophecies and teaching is crucial. We can become lazy or assumptive when it comes to input into our locations. We may think that because a certain person had a word before or was doing and teaching before, they are automatically still in the same place. Discernment helps us know who and what to invite into our communities. Discernment also is part of self-evaluation, searching our own hearts to see how we are doing in staying true to the values.
“Search me, God and know my heart, test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there be any oﬀensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23,24,NIV).
This Psalm is an intentional cry from David to evaluate or examine his heart and to discern how he is doing before God and toward others. May we as a mission and as the body of Christ also examine, discern and be intentional before God and others as we live out the mission, purpose and values to which God has called us