As you start a new year, what are the values you want to live by in 2022?
Do you long to be hospitable? Generous? Encouraging?
To live a sustainable lifestyle? To include other people? To watch what you say and who you say it to? To listen more deeply to the voices of our First Nations peoples and let what you hear change what you do?
Sometimes we can almost reach out and touch the person we want to be and name the values we want to live by, but reality just doesn’t seem to match up. So, how do we make this year different?
Often its our attitudes that get in the way. Formed by our families, experiences, the media, the groups we belong to, and the world around us, our attitudes can stop us seeing people or situations as they really are. Instead, we look at the present through a filter of our past, generalisations built up from our own experience or the experience of others.
Choosing Your Values
Fortunately, we don’t need to stay stuck behind these attitudes forever! We can change.
If we take the time to work out what is really important to us and to our Creator, we can align our behaviour with the values we actually want to live by and set ourselves free from the attitudes that weigh us down.
Making it Happen
Take the time to work out what your options are. Ask yourself “If I was to be my best self this year, which values would I be living out each day?” When you look in the Bible, what matters to God and how would you live that out?
Once you’ve worked out what the alternatives are and their consequences, make a choice about which ones you want to put into action.
Be happy with the choice you’ve made and be willing to own it publicly. This might take some courage, especially if your choice is counter-cultural for the people you are normally around.
Do it! If you don’t act on your value, then it will remain an ideal – something you hope to do one day but haven’t got around to doing yet.
Establishing values is an ongoing process; it takes time and practice to make something new a “normal” response. If you can reach the point where you are making that choice 80% of the time, then you’ve probably got there!
It might be uncomfortable and tiring at times. Being “hospitable” can mean opening your world to the chaos of other people at any time. Not just about fun dinners on a Saturday night, it can mean taking a phone call at the end of a busy day, or making an extra meal for someone, when you barely have time to take care of yourself. Opening the door to a young person who needs a friend or listening to the heartbreak of a neighbour going through a tough time.
In the end, living out our values is choosing to limit ourselves, so that we are doing what is in our heart to do.
It may feel uncomfortable, but ultimately, we’ll be aligning ourselves with the heart of God and bringing lasting change to our own lives and to the world around us.
Transformed communities where young people thrive start with transformed people. Maybe this year, you could be one of them.