God's Value System

Chapter 6: Communicating what you value

Although you might spend a lot of time with someone, you may not know her deeply nor care to. This is not what most people would consider a good and healthy relationship. Before you can fulfill the desires of another person, you must understand her values and desires. Similarly, she also needs to know what is important to you. This requires openness and honesty, and a willingness to accept what you learn about the other person.

Truly knowing someone requires that you understand what is important to her. A person's value system shapes her character and affects all of her decisions. With a minimal or false idea of what a person's desires are, you will be unable to love her in ways that make her feel loved.

For a relationship to deepen, both participants must be willing to discover the values of the other person. As we learn these values, we will discover how much we are like or unlike the other. Where we differ, we must at least attempt to understand the other person's desires. If those desires are non-moral and thus not opposed to sacrificial love, we should be careful not to respond in a negative way. It might take time for a person to feel the freedom to share who he truly is, but an atmosphere of acceptance prepares him for greater exposure. Without the freedom to open up and be discovered, we cannot please one another and our relationship will suffer from superficiality.

Until a relationship moves to conversation about values, you may find that you are not truly communicating. Even if you talk about your wants and desires, you still might not fully understand yourself or what you are wanting of the other person. If you are speaking or acting from emotion then you might not be doing what is right for the relationship; you may only be seeking that which makes you feel good or happy. However, communicating emotions and desires are still important because they give us understanding into the values that we hold most deeply.

Truly knowing your values comes from comparing them to sacrificial love so you can determine if they are right or wrong. In non-moral areas of life, knowing your values according to the three areas of desire will help you communicate the deeper issues of your heart. Discussion using the framework of sacrificial love and the three areas of desire will also make it easier for you to communicate in words that another person can easily understand.

Especially in times of conflict, seek to list and communicate the values that are driving your desires and choices. You still may not agree with each other because each one of you will place greater preference on different values. However, you will understand one another better and you will more clearly communicate with one another.

If you have a child, attempt to understand the values that are behind his desires and actions. Talk to him about the values that he holds, and discuss how they are like or unlike yours. Teaching your child that relationships are based on common value systems will help him understand the nature of his relationship with you, but it will also prepare him for having better relationships throughout life.

Help your child understand the three areas of desire that he will face in life so that he can make choices that will be best for his relationships with others rather than only for himself. Children care deeply about what others think of them, even more than we who are older do. They need to know that it is better to be good than to satisfy bodily appetites, to have people like them, or to be wealthy or powerful.

Sacrificial love can change you, it can change your child, and it can change the world. As you and your child talk about values and how to sacrificially love those in your family, your family relationships will grow strong. Your family will share an identity of love that will be attractive to all those who live in conflict and heartbreak.

If you do not raise your child to share a common value system with you, he will likely choose one different than yours. That may lead to relational conflict--because all conflict in relationship is conflict over value system. Remember, you do not have to agree on everything. Rather, it is the foundation of sacrificial love that is most important. If you seek to live sacrificially for one another, the other areas of interests that differ will not disturb the peace you share on the deepest level.

Continue reading:
Chapter 7: Becoming a sacrificial lover