In last week’s column we focused on our brain—the stunningly efficient processor in our heads. Today we want to focus on what programs this living computer since the program determines the final outcome.
Education in and of itself is not what programs our mental computers. Instead, it is our values: our virtues, principles, convictions, ideals, motives, morals, ethics or character that we hold dear that instruct our brains.
“The aim of education is the knowledge, not of facts, but of values.” Dean W.R. Inge. The problem is that education models often pride themselves in being “value-free,” provoking C.S. Lewis to write, “Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.” Value-free education produces heads full of knowledge but hearts empty of virtues such as integrity, honesty, and trustworthiness.
How Can We Discover Our Values?
Try the fear test. What are you afraid of? Think about it. Our fears point to what we value. Most people fear crippling injury, serious mental or bodily illness, or premature death. Obviously, we value our total health and life.
The Canelas fear fights and divisions among themselves. The strongest condemnation is not for stealing or lying but for someone who hits another. The Canelas obviously value their community-based culture of family, friends, belonging and togetherness.
Things I Fear
I fear suffering a major moral lapse in the areas of money, sex, or power. My fears point to values like continued good fellowship with God, being held in high regard by my family and colleagues, and having an effective ministry as a speaker and writer.
I also fear poverty which leads to not being able to travel to be with people I love, not being able to buy the things or services for myself or to help others, all within reason, of course. This fear indicates I value mobility, being able to choose where to live, live in relative comfort, having the ability to help others in need, and having an valuable Kingdom ministry.
I fear losing all my computer data, fifty years of diaries, personal history, and photos. I very much value being able to leave a legacy to our descendants of what God has done in and through Jo and me and our family.
Try this exercise yourself. List the things you fear, then ask why you fear them and list your values. Now check these values against the Bible. Read Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and the book of Proverbs for some clearly stated biblical principles, ethics and ideals.
We may find that our values need some upgrading, from being narcissistic, and materialistic to being more God-centered. Reading the Bible will grow those values in our lives. Our biblically sound values will program our brain to make decisions that lead to a God-pleasing life.
More Advantages to Knowing What We Value
Modeling biblically sound values and talking about them to our children and grandchildren will influence them to develop these values too. Our influence and example will live long after we are gone.
- Having a set of clear values and strong convictions will help us make decisions quickly and wisely.
- Only strong convictions growing from clear values can withstand strong temptations.
- When our values are clear we can influence other people and reach into their lives to give them the help they need.
- As we live in accord with our values, our self-respect grows, and others are drawn closer to us.
God has given us a great computer processor, which we need to keep healthy and protected. Our chief responsibility, however, is to make sure we run the right programs. We can only do that when we know and develop values that line up with what God’s Word calls wisdom.
Soaking our minds in the Word of God by reading and pondering it regularly, is therefore, the best way to develop the clear values and strong convictions that program our fabulous, God-given brain. Our well-programmed brains will move us to live God-pleasing lives.