I sometimes find myself frustrated. It’s a mild frustration—nothing most people see—but it is present nonetheless. The frustration could be at home, amongst church ministry, in a meeting or a conversation among friends.
Being frustrated is easy; knowing why you are frustrated is hard. Often, rather than try and diagnose why we are frustrated we simply assume our frustration because of something someone else did wrong (good place to start, right?, with what other people did wrong). We know, though, that there’s usually more to the story.
2020 has been a year for me to try and track down my own personal frustrations that show up in leadership and figure out what is going on. Here’s what I’m discovering:
Frustrations often come when your personal values clash with the personal values of another.
Further than that is the fact that these values might be expressing themselves in you positively or negatively—and you might now know what is going on in the moment unless you really think about it.
So that’s where this series will be going. I’ve spent some time trying to articulate my own personal values, how they operate day-today, and how they might help or hinder as I lead. Today, I’ll simply summarize those values and from there I’ll start showing the upside and downside to each one.
I forced myself to five values that I believe sum up a lot of what motivates me as a leader and serves as the filter for lots of my decision-making. I also ran these values by a couple of friends (and Courtney) asking, “Does this sum me up?” All those folks agreed. So, in random order, here are the five values that drive me.
- Responsibility: I feel a huge burden of responsibility for anything I’m a part of. If I’m in charge of something, I’m going to do whatever I can to be sure everything happens as it should. If something goes wrong, I need to take the blame. I don’t like it when I’m not the first one to show up to a meeting. If I said I’ll get it to you by Tuesday and I forgot I’m on vacation Tuesday, that doesn’t change what I said.
- Responsiveness: I have set up a workflow that helps me to know what emails I’ve responded to and which ones I haven’t. I text from my computer because I’m on it often enough that it is easier to keep responses there (which is also why my texts to you are often long and/or rapid fire). I set reminders to go off at different times to remember to pray for things, to call people, or to tell someone happy anniversary. Sometimes I delay a response, but it is almost always on purpose.
- Generosity: Money is to be used. Things are to be used. People are not. Jesus was generous with me and I should be generous with others. I want to pick up the tab at lunch (don’t get me wrong, you can, too) and I want to send you on your mission trip. I’ve shared before (in sermons and with friends) that Court and I have a little guideline of the more generous, the better. If we are deciding between two options, the one that is more generous is the one we should pick. If we don’t think we can afford it or it doesn’t seem “wise,” that makes it all-the-better.
- Excellence: If something is going to happen it needs to be as good as you can get it. (Note, I don’t mean “as good as it can be.” That’s a farce.) Something can always be better. I mean this: if you are going to attempt something do your best to make it beautiful, make it work, and make it helpful. If you’re going to put some work in then do the extra work that makes it better.
- Integrity: I tell friends that the one thing you have is your integrity. You lose that and you lose everything. I want to be a man who does what he says, who doesn’t lie, and who can always be trusted. When I betray any of those things (and believe me, I have), I feel miserable. Knowing what a precious commodity personal integrity is, I’ve begun praying daily that I keep it.
Even as you read these you might think, “Uhh, there are some problems with what you’re saying.” You’re right, and that’s part of why this series is happening. Over the coming weeks, I want to walk through each one of these in more detail. Specifically, I want to show how the value helps me operate and how it might hinder how I operate. As a leader, we all need to know ourselves so we can operate in the best way for the benefit of those around us.
Each of our values has a shadow side—a way that the flesh can manipulate and fearfully operate. If we are operating from that side, there are gonna be big, big problems. I know for me that many in my life have come across the ugly side of my values.
The same likely goes for you—even if you haven’t thought about it. You have values that express themselves all the time. What are they? If you had to pick the five values that drive you, what would you put? Feel free to reply below.