The Power of Values Driven Living


When I was a kid my parents used to drive me crazy with their emphasis on values. Every time I got in a fight with my brother or sister it was the same line… “What family value did you violate when you did that?…” It was maddening. I often wondered why it mattered, I thought it would be easier if they would just punish me for my bad behavior and we could move on. I remember thinking very specifically,

“Why does everything have to be such a big ordeal?”

Over a decade later, I am coming to a complete understanding of why values driven living can be such a powerful, and life defining thing. Core values may seem small, over simplified at times even superfluous, but ultimately, I have learned they end up being the very thing that brings clarity, direction and focus to the life of an over extended, emotional, scattered and broken individual… like myself

I am not typically one for cliche’s, but the age old adage, “You have to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything,” is right on the money. Its not just a statement for an over zealous college student looking to sow his/her wild oats. Its for me! Its for you! Its for anyone who has ever felt like life is simply happening to them.

Core values are the like the bumpers in the gutters of a bowling lane. They keep the ball moving in the right direction no matter how bad we throw it. We have to recognize that as broken, emotional, over tired, stretched to the limit individuals, we cannot count on ourselves to make choices that will keep us out of the “gutter,” meaning places we would never choose to be, or ways we would never choose to live in moments of clarity. Core values can act as a bumper for our lives keeping our ball moving toward the pins. Sometimes incredibly slowly, but eventually it will hit the pins. Eventually we will become what we set out to be. Without core values to define our pursuits, we end up letting the urgent take precedent over the important. For example, no one sits in a hospital room just minutes after the birth of their child whispering things in their ear like…

“I promise to be there for you most of the time”

“I will only yell at you in anger when you really piss me off.”

“I plan to attend at least 1/3 of your baseball games.”

“Just so you know, work will always be more important than helping with your homework.”

So how do we find ourselves living out those exact realities and so many more? Because we have no values to help us prioritize our lives in those moments where the world is baring down on us, responsibilities are crashing on our heads like the shore breakers of, “The Wedge,” at Newport Beach, and pressures of the urgent are threatening to put us in the bowling lane gutter of life.

Core values is the answer.

We can either choose what we value, or let the world choose that for us. We can either be intentional about who we are going to be in moments of clarity and sanity, or we can let the circumstances of life ultimately define who it is we are and how we end up living.

Values bring clarity in our decision making, purpose in our busyness and relief from the guilt of not being able to please everyone. Values allow us to become the person we want to be rather than the person our world inevitably wants to turn us into.

If your desire is to be a person that lives life with purpose and meaning, begin here. Begin by deciding who it is you want to be, and let go of the pride that says, “I don’t need the bumpers, I am really good bowler.”

Put out the bumpers, and even if you don’t knock down all the pins every time, your life will always be on target, on purpose and on point.

On this blog I am starting a journey that could go on for a while on this concept of Values. I am convinced the practical implications of this concept are much more important than we realize.

Stay tuned for part two..


2 thoughts on “The Power of Values Driven Living

  1. “Core values are the like the bumpers in the gutters of a bowling lane. They keep the ball moving in the right direction no matter how bad we throw it.”
    Great, great illustration. So much is here. We tend toward the gutter. No matter how much we long for the headpin (God’s kingdom purpose), we tend toward the gutter. Now, what are the real life “bumpers” that keep us heading in that right direction? Parents are one thing, an early thing. Then what?


    • yeah, not sure… I guess in my mind it is the values themselves… Values are not behaviorally oriented, so its the formation of the values in us that create the bumpers in our lives to keep us focused. If the value of surrender is formed in my heart it will naturally change the way I respond when I throw a “Gutter ball.” Its not as much about staying out of the gutter than as it is maintaining your direction toward the pin… the value of surrender in my heart when applied to failure places the ball back on course. Are we killing the illustration yet?


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