Relig-ish: How to have a life (and a faith) built on YOUR core values.


These are my core values. All the jobs that I’ve held, all the causes I’ve been passionate about, all the people I admire have had these *8Things in common.

When I work on projects that are closely connected to these core values, I experience satisfaction, motivation and clarity. When I put my efforts towards things that do not embody these core values, I feel lost, dissatisfied, and just plain old pissy.

Sometimes I wish I had different values. For instance, let’s take “Security.” I need to know where the money is coming from. I need to be sure the rent is covered. I need a steady paycheck. These things used to seem wimpy to me—needy, weak and shallow. Why couldn’t I take more risks? Why couldn’t I be more daring?

Then I realized that being financially secure, being in place of stability and constancy – this allowed me to live in community and to practice hospitality. Security allowed me to work on innovative projects and causes. Security allowed me to be a patron of the arts and to support beauty. Of course some people do all of those things without financial or relational security. But me, I need that value to feed all the other values-based work I engage in. One feeds the other.

When you feel lost. When you feel crabby. When your faith no longer fits – look to your core values. Don’t know what yours are? Try one of these exercises.

  • Your Resume: Think back on all the jobs (paid or voluntary) that you’ve held. (Don’t forget parenting!) Which parts of those jobs were energizing to you? What values did those tasks encompass? What parts did you dislike? What values were missing from those tasks?
  • Models and Mentors: Who are your role models and mentors? What character traits to do you admire most about them? What values do those traits reflect?
  • The Funeral: If someone was describing you at your memorial, what adjectives would you like them to describe you?
  • Then and Now: As you look for your core values, remember that they flux somewhat over the course of your life. Some rise to the top. Others fade into the distance. What did you once hold in high value that now carries less importance to you? What has come to live in its place? (Example: When I was younger I valued obedience. Now I value self-authority.)

As you do these exercises, see if you can narrow your list down to 8 core values. It helps to have a small enough number that you can rattle them off by heart. Then narrow it down to 3 super-core values. As you create your custom fit faith, as you curate your belief system, make sure the things you give your time to represent those 3 core values. And look for the other 5 in as many aspects of your life as possible.

What about you? What are your core values? Which of them are you living-out regularly in your life? Which aren’t getting enough attention?


Relig-ish is a new series at Magpie Girl dedicated to exploring a new kind of faith — one that suites Y.O.U. Come along with us as we help each other find a spirituality that fits. Click here to read all the Relig-ish posts, and join the mailing list for additional musings on this (re)construction project. Thanks for being here today. Much Warmth, Rachelle


This article is cross-posted from Roots of She, where I am part of the writing tribe along with a group of fabulous, soulful women. Come on by!

Spiritual but not religious? Recovering Evangelical? Jill of all faiths? You might be relig-ish. Browse the posts to learn more, or click here to watch a video about our relig-ish community.

Prime Sarmiento June 22, 2011 at 12:04 am

Hi Rachelle: I for one don’t see anything wrong with having “security” as one of my core values. I welcome and cherish the fact that I have financial independence and I never regretted the fact that I left freelancing to get a stable job as a copy editor for a big media corporation. Having a steady paycheck allowed me to live the life that I want (a true-blue Gypsygal who loves to write). But more than that, it also gave me the means to help my parents, buy socially-responsible products/services and be more active in non-profit environmental groups.

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