Yesterday I unpacked my personal values. Here are my professional values, i.e. the values that I hope will define my ministry. Once again, some of these are current values, while others are aspirational. Many--if not all--of these values are the core of my entire ministry philosophy, drawn from 1 Thessalonians 2.
The Gospel is everything: Every message, every small group, every event, every staff meeting, every one-on-one conversation, everything must connect with and flow from the Gospel story. This means lots of Jesus-y language.
Being with and for others: At the heart of ministry is the reality of the incarnation. This requires entering into the messiness of others' lives, suffering together and following Jesus together. This lifestyle is marked by encouragement, exhortation, gentleness, care, comfort, and love.
Being present to God, to others, to my own soul: Instead of being overly defined by the past or overly driven by the future, this is about allowing stillness and space to hear God’s voice and the seeing the reality of others, seek the Spirit's guidance in every moment.
An environment of love: Fostering a culture of belonging, where it’s safe to ask questions and fail, where love is defined by sacrificial action. Love should be tangible, experienced by both staff and students in every arena, grace-soaked and truth-filled. Love requires loving the marginalized, intentionally moving into the margins to embrace the forgotten and ignored.
How to think over what to think: This is about asking the right questions over giving the right answers, fostering spiritual disequilibration, offering experiences requiring faith and risk, giving tools and skills over pat answers or pre-made conclusions.
Success is long-term holistic fruit: Seeing students that love God with heart, soul, mind, and strength years later as adults. Success means having relationships with students that last beyond a program, seeing them follow Jesus for decades, not just for the years they participate in a program.
Whole disciples, whole church: Students are viewed as full members of the body of Christ; they aren’t the future of the church, they are the church. This requires the whole church living, loving, and serving together, with students belonging to the church as a whole, not just a separate youth group.
I'm sure these values will all continue to be shaped and honed over time. I'm not going to pretend like I have everything in ministry figured out at this point. But these are the ministry values I'm aspiring to embrace at the moment. My ministry isn't there yet, but we're moving towards these. I hope that our volunteer leaders will be able to embrace the same values and live them out in the years to come.
What do you think? Share some of your own professional/ministry values.