The Big Decision: Living our values

Published 1:04 pm Saturday, June 2, 2018

by Andrew Book

Every day, each of us makes a thousand decisions. Most of these are small: picking out socks for the day, what we are packing for lunch, or whether we are going to watch another episode of that show before we go to bed. These small decisions usually don’t impact much (I have already forgotten what socks I have on and it’s not even 10 a.m.,) but we all have opportunities to make ‘Big Decisions’ from time to time. I say “opportunities to make Big Decisions” because many times when faced with an opportunity that will make a major shift in our lives, we take the path of least resistance and say “no” to change. Choosing the path of least resistance is, in itself, a major decision, but only because it is a choice to avoid the big changes that would come from taking a different path.

We have many reasons to turn down major changes in our lives. Some of those reasons are good (we don’t want to lose the relationships we have at work by taking a new job,) and some of those are bad (we are afraid of what the future might hold if we escape an abusive relationship.) Some of the reasons are just born out of exhaustion or sheer laziness (“change sounds like a lot of work!”) At the end of the day, however, we all must decide what is most important to us and make our decisions based on those values.

Every time I sit down with a couple for premarital counseling, we take one session to focus on goals and values. I ask the couple to arrive with a “bucket list” of things they want to accomplish in their lives as well as things they want to be known for by the people around them. These couples have had a lot of good conversations as a result of these lists. There have been more than a few surprises of goals or values they had not yet discussed. I always take time to encourage the couple to fight for the things they value, to figure out how to put those values first, and shape their lives around the things that are important to them.

Even as I encourage others to understand and live out of their values, I also am constantly asking myself the question, “How well does my life line up with my values?” This is an important question for all of us to ask on a regular basis, and when there are gaps between the way we are living and the values we want guiding our lives, then we need to make a change. Over the recent months my family and I have taken a hard look at our values, and decided that we need to make some Big Decisions!

One value at the core of whom I am both as a person and a pastor is the belief that each person is called and gifted by God to live a purposeful, faith-filled life. I entered pastoral ministry in large part to live out my call to help people discover and live out their gifts, calling and the place of faith in their lives. As I have been living out this value, however, I have discovered that Jesus knew what he was doing when he invited a group of 12 to share life with him in order to raise them up as people of faith. Jesus focused on this small group of people and lived out life and ministry with them as the ultimate school of discipleship. The longer I have spent in the traditional church setting, the more I have realized that the kind of extended family Jesus created is a much better way to help people discover and live out their gifts and callings than the large group of a traditional church. This is not the only value that shapes our life as a family, but as we examined this value alongside the other values we hold dear, we realized it was time for a Big Decision.

Our Big Decision is going to impact our lives in many ways. Effective June 27, I will not longer be serving as the pastor of Courtland United Methodist Church (I am excited about my replacement, the Rev. Bill McClung!) My family and I will be moving to South Chesterfield County where we will begin the process of building the kind of extended family that Jesus focused on. This will include turning our attention to foster care and opening our home to children who need a family who can love them, care for them and help them see the unique gifts they have. We will also be building an extended family of people who want to care about foster care, seek and follow Jesus, and live out of the unique gifts God has given them. The more we have thought and prayed about this Big Decision, the more excited we have become about the possibilities, but with all the changes and new beginnings comes a level of apprehension and anxiety. We would love your prayers and encouragement as we set out on this new endeavor. The future is unclear, but the adventure is exciting. It is an adventure led by our commitment to be true to those values God has placed in our hearts. There is truly no better way to live life!

As we make this transition, I will be stepping down from writing this column. I hope God has used my words over the past four years. If you are interested in staying in touch with me or hearing more about our adventure, please feel free to email me at

ANDREW BOOK is the pastor of Courtland United Methodist Church. He can be contacted at 653-2240 or