Working with marriages and families over the past twenty-plus years has been illuminating for me. I’ve found that most of us don’t know ourselves well. Like others, we know things about ourselves, our favorite colors, our taste in food, where we were born, what we like to do, who we hang out with, what we do for work, and what our talents are, but if someone asks us what our core beliefs and values are, we might have to pause.
As a Christian, I could answer without hesitation that I believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God, born of a virgin, died on the cross for my sins, He rose on the third day, and my belief and acceptance of Him allows me to spend eternity in heaven. I attend a church where a pastor asks, “Church, what do you believe?” every Sunday. We all stand together and recite the Apostle’s Creed. It’s one of my favorite moments of worship. I truly believe what it states, reminding me of what I believe.
Why do I need to be reminded? Because my deeply held beliefs should frame how I live my life, the decisions I make, how I spend my time, etc. It doesn’t mean I don’t make mistakes and missteps, but it’s my true north, my compass, and I often need to realign. My faith is the centerpiece of all my core values. What about you? Have you ever seriously considered what you believe and whether your core values and behavior flow from that belief?
How does this impact marriage?
It’s not unusual to meet with couples that have different beliefs.
An example of this in marriage would be a Christian marrying a Jew. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against the Christian or the Jew. But if we genuinely believe that Jesus is the only way to be saved, and without acceptance of Him, I’m going to spend eternity in hell, should we marry? Do we believe what we proclaim, or is it just an inherited ritual with no real root? Do our choices and behavior align with our beliefs? Many of us haven’t taken the step to dig in and ask ourselves what we believe at our core and where that leads us.
Beliefs drive values
Someone recently asked about Christian couples living together before marriage. It’s increasingly common in the Christian churches. Wonderful people, some of our family members, people we would die for, me, you, making decisions that we know contradict God’s design. I responded, “Sometimes the journey of believing to following is full of detours.”
There are many reasons we say one thing and do another. In Romans 7, Paul is questioning why he does the things he knows not to do. We all do it, and the reasons are many: lack of spiritual maturity, courage, pride, fear, the list could go on and on. Often, it’s because we don’t know ourselves; we don’t know what we believe about some things. We have yet to give it much thought or question ourselves, and we mindlessly drift into behaviors. We’ve allowed culture to transform and dull our thinking rather than our beliefs and values transforming culture. Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” We have to make a study of ourselves.
Ultimately, our belief drives our values. How do we define a core value? A value is a fundamental belief, a principle we ascribe to that we won’t compromise, a non-negotiable. The challenge is connecting the belief with the value, giving them a name, putting a stake in the ground, and placing a guardrail around them. You may believe marriage is a monogamous relationship between a man and a woman. A core value might be faithfulness. It’s more than necessary; it’s a non-negotiable line in the sand. It’s the internal compass that drives our decisions and our behaviors. So if the core belief is marriage is a monogamous commitment between a man and a woman, and the core value is faithfulness, we know that adultery would be forbidden, an absolute NO. How does that impact our behavior?
Values drive behavior
To live by your beliefs and core values, your behavior choices must be examined and realigned occasionally. In the marriage example above, guardrails may need to be built to help us keep those non-negotiables safe. It might be that you don’t go out after work with friends, that you don’t have lunch with the opposite sex unless other people are joining you, that you spend quality time with your spouse every day. A gentleman recently shared that he created a list of his core values and revisited it once a week. One of his core values was faithfulness to his wife, so when he travels, he commits that he will be in his hotel room for the night by 8 p.m. and will call his wife. They have examined themselves and shared their beliefs, core values and behavior plans, providing a solid foundation and emotional connection for their marriage and family.
What can you do?
I often ask myself, is my behavior reflecting my core values based on my beliefs? Does my behavior demonstrate what I value most, and does it align with God’s Word? Some days I fail, but with Jesus and the Bible as my true north and my core values as my compass, I can reset and realign my behavior.
It’s challenging but critical to dig deep and develop a deeper understanding and knowledge of ourselves. I encourage you to begin the process of self-assessment. There’s a plethora of materials online, but I recommend an organization that’s walked me through this process: Convenenow.com.
This exercise is an opportunity for your marriage, family and relationships to reflect one of my favorite verses, something I aspire to. Psalms 1:2-3… “But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season, and its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.”
Lastly, if you need to know what you believe about Jesus or eternity, I hope you will reach out to anyone at the Good News or to me at [email protected].
Live the Life South Florida exists to strengthen marriages and families through healthy relationship education, beginning in middle school through senior adults. We are educators, coaches, and pastoral counselors. If you’re looking for a clinical counselor or therapist, we are blessed to have many in the South Florida community. We’d be honored to provide you a list of highly qualified and reputable individuals. Visit livethelifesoflo.org