Your school or organization should have core values, a handful of items that tell everyone what is important. These values become the basis for decision making, interactions with publics, long-term planning, and use of resources. They are where you go when emotions are high or a situation heavy.

Public core values help everyone know what your organization is really about and how it operates. Then, even if some don’t agree, they know why you do what you do and that everything isn’t open to negotiation. Integrity is doing what you say you will do: having core values lets everyone see you are consistent in word and action and not playing favorites or unsteady.

You should have core values for yourself. They don’t need to be on display, but those close to you should know them and hold you to keeping them in your life.

Just as core values help a school, your personal ones will guide you in decisions as you serve in a long term ministry of school or organizational leadership with the constant pressure to do more, to bend, or to do what is good instead of what is best. Using your core values helps you sustain your work for years with personal integrity and peace. Even if others disagree.

Take time to identify three to six values that are most important in your life. Share them with your spouse, children, or close friends. You can always change them. But, have a set that will help you wade through the daily flow of life with consistency and courage, doing what is right.

Values are guides, not goals. They are also not priorities, although you could list them that way. Ideally, you live out all of your values and never have to decide between two or more of them. If you find yourself often needing to pick one over the other in your life, you should either reconsider the values or how you are living.

Values should reflect the beliefs that are most relevant to you, your situation, your gifts, and your call. They should be more than one word, with a brief description that helps you. Don’t worry about grammar, whatever works for you to use.

You don’t need to list everything that you believe is important or right. Just what you want to emphasize at this point in life. Examples of values that you may have:

• God: life is about Him, not me. For His glory.
• Bible: first source of truth, primary, sufficient.
• Family: deep care, meet needs, healthy, spouse.
• World: truths shared broadly, used by God.
• Creativity: fresh, study, as new wineskins.

When you have to make a decision about your time, talents, or money, these guide you. Identified core values help you serve over years in intense ministry with joy and peace.