Choose Among Competing Values

A helpful component of adaptive leadership is unearthing the values behind our actions, beliefs, or ideals. Individuals may name things like faith, family, career, community, and freedom as their values. Organizations may also name their own values based on what they do or are created for. A church, for instance, may say that they value the Bible, community, justice, generosity, and sharing God’s love. While each of these values are important and good there comes a time when we may have to choose among competing values. This is one of the behaviors that is part of competency of Manage Self.

We actually do this without even noticing all the time. In our personal lives, we may choose to spend an extra hour or two in the office rather than time with our family. Or we may choose to give up our free time to help someone out in our neighborhood. Whether it is done intentionally or not, these choices reflect what value seems most needed in that moment. The next time the choice comes around, we may do something different based on the needs in that moment.

The challenge of adaptive leadership is to move this from an unconscious choice to a conscious one. In many of the challenges we face, we will have to choose which value will best serve the overall purpose of what we are trying to accomplish. This can be hard work but it is worth it.

In the Bible, we see this when Jesus heals on the Sabbath. It’s not like Jesus didn’t know it would make the Pharisees and Scribes angry. But his value for caring for the oppressed, for the hurting, and for the outsiders was more important than his value for keeping the letter of the Jewish laws at the time. There were other times when Jesus was careful to keep the laws so in those instances he chose differently.

The important thing is to keep in mind our purpose when we make choices. At some points it will be more important for us to choose an hour of extra work, other times it will not. On some occasions we, as a church, might have to choose what is right for others rather than what seems best for our own community, while other times we might need to take care of ourselves. It’s not an all-or-nothing game. It’s a what-fulfills-our-purpose move.

--Clayton Gladish