Produce Value | Letters To My Son
"I have often wondered how it is that every man loves himself more than all the rest of men, but yet sets less value on his own opinions of himself than on the opinions of others."—Marcus Aurelius
"For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come."—1 Timothy 4:8
Everything Has Value—real and ascribed
Value is the belief that something has merit. Therefore the value we ascribe to something grants it its worth—#cha-ching. For example, a $20 bill has a real value of .10 cents, which is the actual cost of the paper, ink, and labor for production. But we ascribe to this debt note value of $20. While in our mind it's worth 20 dollars, its real value is not 20 dollars—notice the delta between real and ascribe.
Understanding how value works becomes critically important in understanding yourself. This is because value is not just something we ascribe to things; it is something we also ascribe to people—even ourselves.
You may not recognize your value or the values you hold, but you have a unique set of personal values that drive your current behavior. In fact, your current behaviors are evidence of your values. These values can be spoken or unspoken, but either way, they exist. These values are the hidden standards for your judgment and action. For example, I have a few that have been with me most of my life. Words like "integrity, leadership, mentorship, discipline, and faith" are a few deeper values I hold. Sometimes I speak openly about these, and other times they are evidenced by my actions. They make me unique and form if not inform my everyday life. More often than not, we discover them over time through trial and error.
As my son, I see deep, high, and lasting value in you, while you may not be able to recognize and name them all at this point in your life. But over the next few years, you will discover a list that you call your own. Below are a few things to consider as these "themes" rise to the surface.
One | You Have Value As A Male
"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them."—Genesis 1:27
The world is getting a little strange on the gender issue. For some reason, the mistakes of one person of a particular gender are negative contributions to the whole. In the court of public opinion, our gender is pronounced guilty before a jury of social media predators who are determining constructs for new masculinity and attacking not only the evils of humanity but also the man with his gender. You will hear people, even professors with some worldly clout, proudly proclaim that our gender is "toxic." In addition, they may also project contributing issues onto you as a man over which you have no control. And because of this, they will presume you should feel regret for being a man.
Do not be confused; humanity needs to repent of both conscious and unconscious sin. Men have made mistakes, except we are all sinful. Male and female. In actuality, humanity is "toxic" but only because the toxic impact of sin impacts it—and it's not gender-exclusive it gender-inclusive.
But the toxic impact of sin does not mean that you should devalue your gender. Be proud to be a man. The Creator made you this way. You had no control over this. Yes, you are distinctive biologically but don't live in shame or confusion about this. Your gender is beautiful, and while sexually different from females, males and females are both bearers of God's image, both heirs of God's grace, and both called to rule God's creation. So be God's man.
Two | Your Male Friendship Have Value
"Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another."—Proverbs 27:17
Every man contributes some form of value to another man. I add value to you, and you add value to me. We are continually exchanging it. It's like we're each making deposits and withdrawals with each other.
What's interesting is that in some relationships you will not experience deposits, rather only withdrawals. Some people will take value, while others will contribute to it. And I would recommend you find a disproportionate number of men that make good, healthy, and rich deposits into your life. You are going to have to seek them out. They are not just going to walk up to you. You are going to have to buy them a coffee, invite them to a meal, or schedule an appointment. You need to find men that have the value that you want—men who are further down the road of life than you in several areas. Business. Marriage. Leadership. Faith. Family. Seek these men out for their value and then be unashamed that you need mentoring from them because of their value. Men will most often willingly give it for free, especially for men passionate about growth and being a "sharper man."
Three | Discover Your Values Through The Irritations
"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope."—Jeremiah 29:11
Personal values, like I hold, are essential to identify. It may be too early to know them all, but you'll discover them in an irritating way. People around you will say or do things that strike a nerve-ending in your heart, soul, and mind. They might say something that offends you, do something that angers you, or unintentionally do something that hurts you. At this moment be alert, because this "internal alarm" will draw attention to the values you hold. It might awaken a passion, a sense of justice, or a holy discontent.
Many of the values I hold I stumbled on because I had moments, experiences, and encounters that awakened them. Moments of dishonesty that led me to value integrity. Experiences with weak leadership that led me to value great leadership. And encounters that lacked discipleship that led me to value mentorship. Embrace these "alarming" moments and recognize the passion that lies within you. Spend less time being irritated and more time concerning your heart with the solutions to the problem around the value they have awakened. Remember these moments, name the value, tell stories about them, and then get some passion for the activation of them.
Four | You Have Value To Extend To Others
"As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another."—1 Peter 4:10
In the New Testament, a few books reference "spiritual gifts." These lists are not exhaustive of every form of a spiritual gift, but they teach a profound point—that we each have a contribution to make to the world but also the institution of the church. What's interesting about our gifts is that they are given to us for the benefit of others, not-self. The selfish use of our gifts is misuse. Therefore you have a contribution to others for their benefit, and others have the same. This is a value exchange of spiritual proportions. This means the world and the church need you and you need them.
Too many bury these "talents" in the ground and fail to experience the multiplying impact of them. I wish I would have learned this lesson much younger than I did. I am just now beginning to see and feel the multiplying effect of my value to the world because I want late in discovering and finding a place to use them—but even more, because I failed to pay attention to them.
If you want to discover your gifts, I would recommend a spiritual gifts assessment like this one—www.beresolute.org/sga. Take it and discuss it with someone who has similar gifts as you and find out how they have used their gifts for the value of multiplying impact in the life of others.
Five | Find a Woman Who Knows Her Value and Shares Yours
"An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels."—Proverbs 31:10
The one thing I am most concerned about for you is finding a woman whose values are shared and complemented by yours. A woman who shares your faith in God and wants to find ways in this worldview to live out your values as they mutually honor God. Don't settle for physical beauty alone; find the spiritual beauty that accentuates the physical beauty. This woman will be precious and valuable to you. I found this same thing in your mom when we met for the first time—physical attraction and inner beauty. Seek it and don't settle.
Six | Invest In Things That Have Meaningful Value
"For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?"—Matthew 16:26
Some ventures are profitable, and others not so much. You mom and I have learned the hard way from making poor investments with our time, talent, and treasure. But even more than this is the investment we make that have an eternal impact.
It's essential to provide, save, spend, and invest financially, but there is one economic engine that you need always to be giving attention to—the investment in spiritual riches that have eternal gain.
Don't invest so much time in athletic pursuits that you refrain from time with God. Don't spend too much time in relationships, events, socials, and activities that you avoid weekly church services. Don't value school, studying, homework, or projects, and then avert spiritual development. In this life, some things hold some value and items that have eternal value. Invest more time, talent, and treasure in the latter.
Seven | God See's Value In You
"...and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty."—2 Corinthians 6:18
You will advertently or inadvertently cheapen your real value, by ascribing to yourself a lower value than you deserve. On the field of play, you're going to mess up and then privately shame yourself. Don't shame yourself. In relationships, you're going to say the wrong thing and then subsequently beat yourself up. Don't beat yourself up. At work or school, you will blow it, and you will think, "I am not good enough, smart enough, qualified enough," and nothing is farther from the truth. Don't believe this. The voice of self-disqualification is powerful; don't convince yourself to listen.
Instead, remember your identity in Christ gives you value. Son, you are a son of God. Live in this identity; it's your real identity. You are not defined by the things you do, don't do, or do wrong. You are not defined by the things you say, don't say, or say wrong. You are not defined by the things you think, don't think, or think wrongly. You are only assigned and thus given real value by God based on what He has said and that alone. Live in this. It's becoming who you already are—valuable.
Love you, son—Dad.