All decisions are ultimately value decisions. We, people in my cultural area, claim to have a certain set of values. Many here would say that their values are God, family, and country. They might add things like community, integrity, friendship, sports, or hard work if they think about it for a minute. None of those things are bad, several of them are things that I place highest on my list of values. The difficulty is not only having good values, it is have them ordered well. We have to learn to recognize what values are in opposition when we face a decision.
Edmond from the Chronicles of Narnia has become one of my favorite characters. He (in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe) and Eustice (in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader) both illustrate an attitude shift that is one of the things I most hope to see as a student pastor. Their values change. At the beginning of the book (or movie) Edmond’s top values are Turkish Delight and power. We know that because he betrays his family and the Beavers to get both. That does not mean that he does not love and value his family, he just values the other things more and we know that because he made a decision placing Turkish Delight and power over his family. Later, you see him submitting to another and placing his family first, putting his values in their proper order.
As I said before, all decisions are values decisions. I make a choice after dinner on whether or not to eat dessert, there are two values in opposition in that decision, one value is eating things that taste good, the other value is controlling my weight and health. Which I value more in that moment will determine the choice that I make.
To figure out what you value most, look to see what you let fill your time first. What time do you protect? You say you value church for example, do you protect that time from other values, like sports? If every time you’re faced with the choice between a sport or church, you choose the sport, I’m sorry, but your higher value is the sport. You say you value hard work and family. If every time your phone rings you pick it up to see if its works even when you’re on vacation with your family or watching a movie with your kids or on a date with your spouse, I’m sorry, but your higher value is work. (It might actually be money, but that’s a conversation for another day.)
If your faith, if God is truly your highest value, then you will take steps to protect your time with him and your time with the body of Christ (the church). If family is your second highest value, then you will take steps to protect your time with your family.
Here is what it boils down to, know what you value and know what you value most. Then, make decisions that protect and live out those values in their proper order.