The first step in effective leadership is defining core values. Until that is done, the ship the leader is trying to steer has no rudder. Vision, mission, strategy and outcomes are difficult—if not impossible—to define until values are clear. Jesus knew that; early in the process of developing his team of disciples, he forced them to confront this foundational issue.

Matthew records Jesus’ primer on values in Matthew 6:1–34. Jesus focused his lesson in verses 19–21: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth … but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (vv. 19–20). Your heart (focus, attention, affection, resources) will center on your treasure (what you supremely value; v. 21).

Jesus urged his disciples to focus their values on things that would bear an eternal return. But how, while making a living on earth, while responsibly leading an enterprise on earth, while providing jobs, product, service and profit on earth, do we build treasure in heaven? This passage presents the crux of the value question. Read 6:1. Got the idea? Who do you work for? Whose nod of approval matters most? Who defines what really matters?

Jesus told his disciples that the core value, the driving value, the eternal value is this: “Does what I am doing please God?” Every other value is second to that one. When that value is in place all other values line up. Matthew 6 is among the most definitive chapters in the Bible for shaping a leader’s philosophy of life and leadership. Spend some time here. Doing so will have inestimable value.

Matthew 6:19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

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