Have you ever thought through the why behind your decisions?
In other words, why do you make the decisions you do? For example,
• If you have a Saturday open on your schedule, do you play a round of golf with your buddies, or go to the swimming pool with your children?
• If a meeting is cancelled, do you catch up with your email? Check social media? Or read the news or a book?
• When the kids go to bed, do you watch Netflix? Read a book? Work on a project? Or talk with a friend or your spouse?
These decisions are often subconscious—they’re underneath the surface. We make them without thinking. They are our habits, our defaults, our normals or our vices.
Whether you realize it or not, many of these kinds of decisions have already been made for you based on your values or principles. These are the very elements that set the status quo for us.
If this is true, wouldn’t it be worth your time to do a little introspection and uncover the why behind your decisions? Your values and principles?
A while back, I came across Amazon’s leadership principles. I like how they describe them,
“Our Leadership Principles aren’t inspirational wall hanging. These Principles work hard, just like we do. Amazonians use them, every day, whether they’re discussing ideas for new projects, deciding on the best solution for a customer’s problem or interviewing candidates.”
Here they are (If you’re short on time, feel free to scroll through and skim the descriptions.):
1. Customer obsession: Leaders start with the customer and work backwards. They work vigorously to earn and keep customer trust. Although leaders pay attention to competitors, they obsess over customers.
2. Ownership: Leaders are owners. They think long term and don’t sacrifice long-term value for short-term results. They act on behalf of the entire company, beyond just their own team. They never say “that’s not my job.”
3. Invent and simplify: Leaders expect and require innovation and invention from their teams and always find ways to simplify. They are externally aware, look for new ideas from everywhere and are not limited by “not invented here.” As we do new things, we accept that we may be misunderstood for long periods of time.
4. Are right, a lot: Leaders are right a lot. They have strong business judgment and good instincts. They seek diverse perspectives and work to disconfirm their beliefs.
5. Learn and be curious: Leaders are never done learning and always seek to improve themselves. They are curious about new possibilities and act to explore them.
6. Hire and develop the best: Leaders raise the performance bar with every hire and promotion. They recognize exceptional talent, and willingly move them throughout the organization. Leaders develop leaders and take seriously their role in coaching others. We work on behalf of our people to invent mechanisms for development like Career Choice.
7. Insist on the highest standards: Leaders have relentlessly high standards—many people may think these standards are unreasonably high. Leaders are continually raising the bar and driving their teams to deliver high-quality products, services and processes. Leaders ensure that defects do not get sent down the line and that problems are fixed so they stay fixed.
8. Think big: Thinking small is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Leaders create and communicate a bold direction that inspires results. They think differently and look around corners for ways to serve customers.
9. Bias for action: Speed matters in business. Many decisions and actions are reversible and do not need extensive study. We value calculated risk taking.
10. Frugality: Accomplish more with less. Constraints breed resourcefulness, self-sufficiency and invention. There are no extra points for growing headcount, budget size or fixed expense.
11. Earn trust: Leaders listen attentively, speak candidly and treat others respectfully. They are vocally self-critical, even when doing so is awkward or embarrassing. Leaders do not believe their or their team’s body odor smells of perfume. They benchmark themselves and their teams against the best.
12. Dive deep: Leaders operate at all levels, stay connected to the details, audit frequently and are skeptical when metrics and anecdote differ. No task is beneath them.
13. Have backbone, disagree and commit: Leaders are obligated to respectfully challenge decisions when they disagree, even when doing so is uncomfortable or exhausting. Leaders have conviction and are tenacious. They do not compromise for the sake of social cohesion. Once a decision is determined, they commit wholly.
14. Deliver results: Leaders focus on the key inputs for their business and deliver them with the right quality and in a timely fashion. Despite setbacks, they rise to the occasion and never settle.
Do you have a similar set of values or principles in your church?
Though I wrote No Silver Bullets to help church leaders and pastors develop a discipleship pathway for their church, I had to include a chapter on vision, values and strategy. If not, then the principles in my book would just end up being the very thing that I wrote against—a silver bullet.
Here’s an excerpt from page 203 in No Silver Bullets about the importance of values for your church:
“Though every church shares the same starting point for their vision—the Great Commandment and Commission—the way they approach it is unique. This is because every church has a unique personality—a distinct set of values. As a result, it is precisely the unique values of a church that drive which strategic trade-offs they will make to move toward their vision. This is because the church’s values act as the guardrails, riverbanks, and boundaries for their strategy. In other words, values influence the way the core system of your church runs.
“For example, a church that has the value, ‘kingdom multiplication,’ is going to make the strategic trade-offs to set aside funds for future church planters, send out members to be a part of church-planting teams and train staff to be future church planters or campus pastors. In contrast, a church that has ‘the marginalized matter’ as one of their values, will make a different set of strategic trade-offs by allocating their funds for community engagement, training up their members to serve the homeless and possibly having a strategic partnership with their local food bank.”
Do you see how important it is to identify your church’s values?
They influence behavior and strategic decision-making. They influence the way your systems operate. They influence the strategic decisions and direction you need to make to get to your vision. They are essentially the personality of your church.
If you want to learn the four types of values in your church and get an audit to help you determine your church’s values, be sure to pick up a copy of No Silver Bullets.
Do you have a similar set of values or principles for your life?
Before Christina and I got married (during pre-marital counseling), we wrote out our values and agreed on the type of marriage we wanted to build. Here are our values:
• It is our desire to exemplify and share Christ’s love for us through honoring and loving others with sincerity and devotion.
• We commit to keeping Christ at the center of our marriage through being joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer.
• We desire for our home to be a blessing and safe haven for all by practicing hospitality and showing others God’s love, compassion and mercy.
• We commit to overcoming evil with good.
• Romans 12:9–21
Twelve years later, these values still stand true and guide the decisions we make and the way we spend our time (the Scripture verse is actually engraved on the inside of our wedding bands). In fact, these values are precisely why we started a podcast.
We came to the conclusion that we would never have enough time to welcome into our home everyone we wanted/needed to. So while we’re still doing that, we wanted to also share our lives and Christ’s love with as many people as possible.
So back to you and back to the beginning of this article: Why do you make the decisions you do?
I hope you can take some time this week to dig into this important, yet often neglected question.
This article originally appeared on NewChurches.com.