When it comes to ice cream, you may have a personal preference of vanilla over chocolate, but, allergies aside, it really will not make a difference which you choose.
However for the important decisions of life– choosing a church home, a career, a partner–there are reasons why one choice is more personally appealing than another. The reason is personal values, those non-negotiables in life where the line is drawn by us. Values provide the reasons why we do what we do.
A Fire Shut Up In My Bones
One of my values is freedom of prophetic ministry. It is more than a preference, because although I have been hungry for the spiritual gifts most of my life, this value was forged in a difficult season of restriction in which I was frustrated over and over. It was a time in which I was learning submission to spiritual leadership while also learning to obey the prompting of the Holy Spirit to operate in the gifts. I could relate to Jeremiah who said the prophetic word burned inside him. (See Jer 20:9.)
“Forge”: “to form by heating and hammering; beat into shape.”
After that experience, I made it a priority to learn how to equip and lead people into prophetic ministry, so that they would have freedom to minister well and in harmony with others. I spent thousands of dollars on books, seminars, and airfare while pushing past my own fears in order to get a breakthrough.
God often uses our specific personal circumstances to awaken us to what is important to us and to deepen the conviction so that it truly becomes part of who we are. Values become forged in times of trials and emotional impact. We learn more and more who we are, what we are willing to do, and what is a deal-breaker. With the passionate desire to make a difference, a calling is often perceived, whether to the marketplace or to ministry.
For example, you have probably known of people who struggled with their health for years who, once they were healed, entered into healing ministry or a health care career.
What kind of circumstance does it take to produce that kind of conviction, determination, and passion– the values that lead a person to make sacrifices? Why do you feel so strongly about certain things?
Your Defining Moments
When you look back at some of the defining moments of your life, you will see that your values were either discovered or solidified through those events. Living in accordance with your values is joyful and satisfying. Conversely, not doing so leads to feeling conflicted because you are not being true to who you are.
Recognizing your forged values is key to making choices that will bring you greater contentment and effectiveness. When I coach clients in Life Focus, their values become clear to them, when they were often unaware of exactly why they felt or behaved a particular way. This gives tremendous hope, encouragement, and validation.
Right now, you may be struggling. You may feel you are in a pressure cooker with no way out. In these cases, understand that God is after something! It’s a learning experience, so look for the lesson, while receiving a fresh measure of His grace to respond appropriately. No doubt He is up to something very good.
(Psa 138:8 KJV) The LORD will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O LORD, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands.