“They followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless.”--2 Kings 17:15b, NIV
Following the death of King Solomon, Israel split into two kingdoms and both began a downward spiral into idolatry, rejecting the worship of Yahweh for the fertility gods native to Canaan. They turned their devotion from God and gave it to other things. In the scripture passage, the writer explains very clearly that if you worship worthless things, you become worthless. What you value determines who you will become.
Each of us has certain innate values. What we value gives us worth. These are the things that make us get up in the morning, the things to which we are devoted.
We usually don’t think about these but we can identify them when we reflect on what is important to us. When I do appreciative inquiry with a congregation, we begin with exercises that help the participants to recognize and share the common values that unite them. Those present may vary by age, gender, economic status, and race, but they quickly identify those things that they value in common.
I submit that values may well be more important that vision in providing direction for a congregation or an individual. Our values provide both motivation and clarity. When we know what is important to us, we can decide what course we will pursue. Our values determine what we will become.
The Christian values his or her relation to God above all else, but what are the behavioral, relational, and ethical values that grow out of that relationship? It is a question worth asking.