November 1, 2021 @ 8:00 AM

When people come for counseling, we first need to identify the presenting problem. Why did they come for help? It might be a current problem, an issue they have lived with for a long time, or perhaps an issue from the past that has recently come to the surface. We need to ask a lot of questions. Sometimes it takes a while to get to the main issue and sometimes what they identify as the presenting problem is only a surface problem or more of a symptom of the deeper concern. It might have been stuffed and repressed for years. The two primary areas where hidden issues seem to surface often pertain to occupations and relationships. As long as relationships stay superficial and worldviews do not collide, there is little cause for conflict. The phrase “go along to get along” comes to mind. But people can only “go along” for so long. Not living according to our values creates internal conflict which will eventually erupt.

We also ask about counseling goals and seek to identify personal values. It is mentally and relationally unhealthy for actions to be out of sync with what we say we value. Saying one thing and doing another indicates dishonesty and lack of integrity.

It is important to choose friends, spouses, and working environments carefully. But first we need to know ourselves -- who we are and what we value. If you find yourself in conflict situations, take time to do some self-evaluation. Emotionally intelligent people understand who they are, when they are emotionally stressed, and how to maintain self-control. They know that not everyone will see and do things their way. They are in touch with their own feelings and know how to manage them well. It is equally important to be able to understand and empathize with others. This allows us to recognize others who may not live according to shared values. Understanding others helps us know how to relate to them.

Here are a few examples of personal values: love of God, love of spouse and children, honesty, faithfulness, compassion, forgiveness, righteousness, and thankfulness. What we value is what we will have. If we do not value one or more of these, they will not be part of our character. They will simply be a nice ideal. So, the first step is to make a list of the things we truly value. Then do some self-evaluation concerning choices we have made over the last week, month, or year. Be intentional about making needed changes.

Our values form our character, and our character reflects our identity. It has been said that we go through life with three names: the name our parents gave us, the name others give us (our reputation), and the name we give ourselves (character). (Our Daily Bread, October 1, 2021) I believe we have one more name. It is the name that God gives us based upon our relationship with Him through Christ. God calls us His child. We are a child of God and joint heirs with Christ if we have received Jesus as our Savior and Lord. (Romans 8:17) Let that sink in! If we are a child of God, does our behavior reflect it? In the words of Francis Schaefer, “How shall we then live?”

This would be a good month to focus on thankfulness. Did you know that gratitude is the fix for entitlement? Try it. Add it to your parenting agenda. A thankful heart is hardly ever the heart of an entitled child or adult. I am thankful for the Pilgrims who lived according to their biblical values in search of freedom to worship the one, true God. Their journey across the ocean to America was beyond hazardous and sacrificial. Many died in route, and many died during their first winter in “the free world.” They did not feel entitled to be here. There were no welcome mats, and no government handouts just for landing here. They had to work hard just to survive, but they were thankful to be here. And they were thankful to their new native American friends who helped them survive. I am also thankful for the brave young soldiers throughout the history of this great (not perfect) United States of America who have fought and died to maintain the freedoms that have been passed down to me. Love of America is one of my most precious values. Without history to remind us and boundaries to maintain our identity, entitlement will prevail.
See Deuteronomy 6:6-7, Proverbs 22:28.

This Thanksgiving let us be thankful for our country, the USA,