Creating great and authentic values in a Christian organization can be difficult. Why? Because none of us want to come off like we are just saying good things but often times it can come across that way.
We want our values to mean something, though. We want them to stick to people. So how do we make our values more than just some words on a wall?
Culture, culture, culture.
The fight for culture can fall dangerously close to being a battle cry for getting what we want in a work place. But culture is not about giving employees whatever they want… It’s about valuing your people and setting the tone for the environment God has called you to be.
First off, do you have the right values?
Values are not made up, they are given. Just like a person, God gifts us each with unique gifts and charisms. He does the same thing with a group of people by calling them to a certain mission in a certain place and in a certain way.
Identifying values that are yours (and only yours) is important because you don’t want to be trying to be someone your not or be pushing yourself away from who God has made you to be.
Another way to look at it is, how has the Holy Spirit animated your organization over the years? Where have you seen fruit? Identifying how you were living in those moments can really help you discern and understand your organization.
When we live within our calling, we are more fruitful and those around us have the freedom to be more fruitful.
It’s important to spend time on the question, are they specific to you?
It’s easy to just throw “honesty”, “integrity”, and “confidence” on the wall and call it good. But what do those words mean? How have you filled them meaning? How does your staff and team understand how to live those out in their work?
At Glass Canvas, we have worked hard to use language and definitions that match us. We don’t just say “be honest” but we say, speak the unspoken. We don’t just say “teamwork” but we say, Co-Innovate to find solutions.
Here are the Glass Canvas values:
Called and Anointed
See the Whole Person
Create from God-Centered Identity
Co-Innovate to Find Solutions
(A little further down, I’ll show you what this actually looks like.)
Second, are they just on your wall or are they a part of your team?
Your values have to mean something to you as a leader and your leadership team because YOU set the tone for the culture. When you fail to do so, someone else, or something else, will.
The heart of this is not a struggle for control but about being intentional with the work, people, and culture you are investing in day-in and day-out.
The solution to this is embodying values.
When I first joined Glass Canvas, one of the things I fell in love with was the culture of the people. The leadership team embodied and modelled the values in a deep way—far more than I’d ever seen in another company. They weren’t messing around.
In fact, I was going to turn down my job offer at Glass Canvas at first. I was nervous about making big life changes and was looking at my career solely on, what makes most sense in the world’s idea of success? I thought moving to a smaller company that worked with ministries made my heart come alive but would it set me up for career goals?
When I communicated that I needed some time to think about it, I got a long email back that included this paragraph:
“We’ve always had a culture of finding where someone’s sweet spot is and trying our best as a team to get people into a place so that they can continue to thrive and grow. We believe God calls and anoints people and we want to do everything we can to get people into where God wants them so they can thrive. Sometimes that takes longer with some people than others and sometimes that is not even within the walls of Glass Canvas. Glass Canvas might not be a good fit for you and that’s okay with us. In fact if you don’t think we are a good fit we would be happy to recommend you to some other connections we have if we knew more about what you were looking for.”
All I heard was, if the fit is not with us, then we’ll make sure we find the right fit for you. I knew I wanted to be on the same side of people who clearly wanted what was best for me.
Before I knew the value "Called and Anointed", I experienced it.
And the longer I have been here, the more I’ve seen how modelling these values becomes a ripple effect for a group of people who then also feel safe and comfortable and excited about living these things out too.
Values should not be just a way to safeguard your company from looking bad but a conviction to be a certain kind of people.
The point is not to get people to conform but to bring out the best in someone. We use our values to help us make sure each person in our organization is thriving in the way that God intended them to thrive.
And if you don’t care about embodying your values… maybe they aren’t things you truly value.
What are your organization’s values? Do they feel true to who you are? Are they worth rallying behind? What kind of organization or legacy do you want to create? How will you model these things to your other leaders?