Working Life, Personal Values and Goals
“The most important thing about a man is not what he does, it is who he becomes”
My unusual journey over the past 40 years has taken me down a winding path of entrepreneurial and business ventures, pastoral work, non-profit administration and sustainable global ministry ventures. These diverse experiences in the sacred and secular arenas have forged me into a healthier man than I imagined was possible. The values and goals that emerged are the essence of a life which has been refined through many costly experiences in business, ministry and relationships. These values are the operating system for every area of my life, business and ministry. They reflect who I am and also who I am becoming.
“My son, be attentive to my wisdom [godly wisdom learned by costly experience], Incline your ear to my understanding”
…Proverbs 5:1 AMP
When sharing about our working life, it’s tempting to focus solely on positive accomplishments and achievements, but these things are only the 10% of the iceberg that is above the surface. The other 90% of the iceberg that sits below the surface is what really tells the story of our life. The most important lessons I have learned in my working life were irrelevant to what I was doing on the surface but had everything to do with the growth of my heart and character that was happening below the surface. To draw attention to the visible and positive parts of my story alone would not paint an accurate picture of the man I have become in the work I have done.
My hope in sharing this with you is that you will be inspired to develop your own set of values and personal goals…that you too will redeem the hardships you have faced by developing a good set of values and principals. The mere act of writing them down will help you discover the mystery of your own heart.
“Men go abroad to admire the heights of the mountains, the mighty waves of the sea, the broad tides of rivers, the compass of the ocean, and the circuits of the stars, yet pass over the mystery of themselves without a thought.”
REED GRAFKE Personal Values
To succeed apart from these values is to fail
- People come first
- Our ability to care and relate to people is the foundation for all activity
- Work with friends whenever possible
- Enthusiasm, passion, focus and joy are the contagious attributes of wholeheartedness
Integrity & Excellence
- Unwavering personal integrity, ethical character and practices
- Clear articulation and accurate representation of abilities and accomplishments
- Who we are speaks louder than what we say, therefore for our words to have authority and influence, they must be congruent with our life
- Being genuine and authentic, being true to oneself, owning one’s stuff
- Believe the best of others to bring out the best in others
- Find a way, not an excuse
- Serving others before yourself is the pathway to greatness
- We serve others by being encouraging, enabling and empowering
- Serving the dreams of others is the pathway to building our own dreams
- When you win at home, you win
- All success in life is built on this foundation
- To succeed at anything at the expense of your family is meaningless
- The joy of honoring others by sharing your home and life’s blessings
- Healthy and caring people are generous in heart, lifestyle and resources and inspire others to embrace these values
- Intimacy with God is my deepest passion. It focuses all other values and is the wellspring for all sacred and secular activities.
- Capacity for intimacy with God is prerequisite for intimacy and authenticity with people
These personal values form the foundation for my work, the way I play and the relationships I enjoy. Whether I’m working, ministering to others, cooking for a party, riding ATVs, hunting, fishing, scuba diving, wine tasting, on a mission’s trip or just hanging out with family and friends, these values are the operating system that makes my life functional and joyful.
If these values are the operating system, think of the following goals as the purpose for the operating system.
Three Personal Goals
(What I desire to be most true of me)
- To be a man of joy – Because joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, it is an attribute of Kingdom-life that flows from God to us when we are in right relationship. True spiritual joy lives above circumstances and flows out of God’s presence to us.
“You will show me the path of life; In your presence is fulness of joy; At your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
…Psalm 16:11 NKJV
- To be a man of love, a great friend – Love is a fruit of the Holy Spirit that flows from God to us. It is something we must value and seek to grow in. To grow in any other area of life at the neglect of love is a dead-end street. When Apostle Paul was teaching on spiritual gifts in 1st Corinthians chapters 12 and 14, he interrupted his own teaching in chapter 13 to explain the preeminence and prerequisite of love:
“If you are not growing in love, being the most eloquent person in the world means nothing”
…I Corinthians 13:1 (my paraphrase)
“If you are not growing in love, being the smartest person in the world and understanding all mysteries means nothing” (how prophetic you are is worthless)
…I Corinthians 13:2 (my paraphrase)
If you are not growing in love, having faith to move mountains means nothing (how powerful you are is worthless)
… 1 Corinthians 13:2 (my paraphrase)
If you are not growing in love, how sacrificial you live means nothing (how generous you are is worthless).
No matter how impactful our gifting or our anointing, if we are not growing in love and building healthy relationships, nothing else we do matters. If we are not growing in love, nothing else we do will profit us (I Cor 13:3) and we are an annoying clanging cymbal to God and others (I Cor 13:1)
“To fall in love with God is the greatest romance; to seek Him the greatest adventure; to find Him, the greatest human achievement.”
- To be a man of God’s presence – I desire a presence-centered life where everything I am and all I do flows out of deep intimacy with God. A life where God’s presence is my default position and my true north. There are those who chase after God’s presence and those who carry God’s presence. There are those who work for God and those whose work flows from their life in God.
“God has worked through many, but rested in few”
…Author unknown (maybe Augustine)
“It is not what a man does that is of final importance, but what he is in what he does. The atmosphere produced by a man, much more than his activities, has the lasting influence.”
These values and goals make up the foundation that supports and gives meaning to all other aspects of my life, including relationships, work and play. Because I’m still growing in all these areas, I use these values and goals as a plumb line to gauge my alignment with God’s will and to evaluate my own growth.
Some Final Thoughts on Work
At the best of times, my work is an expression of my passion and values. Other times I work from obligation or necessity. In the end, all work requires things from us and gives things to us. Whether I enjoy it or not, the work I do and the people I work with play a powerful role in shaping my values and character.
Growing up in a business family meant I was taught to work hard, but I still entered the marketplace as a young new believer and an un-fathered entrepreneur. My first career in manufacturing and automation made my heart come alive. Over five years it culminated in me launching and managing our European division and being responsible for sales, service and prototype research and development while living in England.
During this time, I was also very active in Christian Ministry which caused me to wrestle with the calling on my life. In 1979 there was no language for business as mission or anointed for business, so I mistakenly left my passion for business to enter full-time ministry work, thinking that was my only choice. Over the next 18 years I became the vice-president and general manager of an influential non-profit ministry, learned to be a public speaker and traveled around the world doing “ministry”. These were the hardest years of my life but did more to shape my values than any other season.
By age 40, I had good spiritual mentors and the Lord had taught me that the call to business is as sacred as the call to ministry.
“It is not what a man does that makes it sacred or secular, but why he does it” (motivation is everything)
For the last 20 years since then, I have engaged in public ministry, sustainable global ministry and personal mentoring, while at the same time being active in new business development and executive management and leadership. I’m as comfortable in the boardroom as I am with dirt under my fingernails on the mission field. I have lost all sense of sacred or secular and simply seek to live out my life as one of God’s sons by being faithful in my Kingdom-assignments.
While reading John 17 recently, I noticed something profound about work. Jesus said in John 17:4: “Father, I have finished the work you gave me to do…” The other time Jesus said His work was finished was when He uttered His last words on the cross: “It is Finished” (John 19:30) What amazes me is that even before Jesus most important work on the cross, He expressed to the Father in John 17:4 that He had finished the work the Father gave Him to do, then he goes on to explain what the “work” was. Notice what Jesus considered His work to be in john 17:
- 4 “I have glorified you…” (His work was to glorify God)
- 5 “I have manifested your name to the men you gave me…” (His work was to demonstrate God’s nature)
- 8 “I have given them Your word which you gave Me…” (His work was to train and disciple them)
- 26 “I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You have loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” (His work was to demonstrate love, inspire love and impart love)
Jesus considered his work to be done when He had sufficiently invested His life in His closest friends. I think this is a good model for us to follow. When our life’s values, personal goals and work (ministry or business) are in alignment with God’s Kingdom, everything we do will bring glory to God, demonstrate His nature, equip others and demonstrate, inspire and impart love to our closest friends.
Your personal values and goals may at first be only a distant target, but with time and care, they will become integrated and congruent with your life and work. When this happens, you will find yourself in a glorious place of convergence which is the most joyful and fulfilling life available to us this side of heaven. This is how Jesus describes what it means to live and work in convergence:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
…Matthew 11:28-30 MSG
Thank you for participating in my journey for a few minutes.