Often times there is a big disconnect between who we image ourselves to be and the way we actually behave. Have you ever wondered why you struggle to lose weight no matter how determined you are to change this time? If you put aside the physical reasons dieting isn’t working: your metabolism, age, genetics and the like; maybe just maybe, the issue has more to do with your core values. Let me give you a clear definition of core values. In a new e-book, “Multiplication Matters,” written by Todd Wilson for Exponential, a church-planting organization, he defines core values this way: “Core values … the things so important to us that they shape how we think and how we do all that we do. Our core values reflect our heart, what we really care about deep down. They overflow to shape the words of our mouth (our narrative) and the actions of our hands (our behaviors).”

Organizations often struggle to clearly define their core values. There is a risk when core values are not defined or in some cases not even recognized, that these groups will waste valuable time and human resources on ministry plans destined to fail. They are destined to fail because those well-developed strategies, the God-inspired mission statement and big God-sized vision statements are contrary to the core values of your church or organization.

There are two key elements to help shape your organization’s core values: your narrative and your behaviors.

How Are You Sharing Your Story (Narrative)?

The stories you highlight in your public assemblies (worship) are how your members discover the organization’s values. What do you talk most frequently about with your people? Is it the metrics we commonly measure: worship attendance, the dollars collected toward the budget or the numbers of people in Bible study? While these things are important, the message you are sending by highlighting those is that these things are the core of who we are. If you want to change that focus change the stories, change the narrative because what we celebrate determines what is most important to us. Our story should inspire others to embrace our values and desire to join us in the mission God has called us to carry out.

What are we actually Doing (Behaviors)?

I remember growing up hearing this saying, “Talk is Cheap.” We can have all the good intentions, but in the end, people judge you by your actions. What are you actually investing your time in? That’s what determines your values. If I say I want to lose weight, but never change my eating habits and actually just pass by the gym on the way to Kristy Kreme donuts then I really can’t expect to lose weight. My behavior reveals my real core values. So how and where you invest your time, talents and treasure testify to the organization what you truly value.

If you want to change the direction of your ministry, before you waste valuable time and energy looking for the magical mission bullet, take the time to look at your core values. What is the message you are communicating to your tribe? What are the stories you are highlighting as important? A shift to mission may be as simple as telling different stories and modeling the behavior you want to be emulated. Having a coach can help your begin to make those changes in your organization and stay on task moving forward.