ETHICS: Values In Action [Free Workbook Download]

“This could change your life!”

Psh, yeah right. Feels like an empty promise.

I’ve been let down by too many “this could change your life” statements. I mean… I’ve been told that about everything from a $2000 webinar to a $2 bag of sour gummies. Call me crazy, but not much changes my life.

But this… this will change your life.

I promise.

Er… it’ll change your life IF you change your life.

The dirty little secret of changing your life is that YOU change your life. Not the program. Not the gummy.

You do.

I put together a little workbook for our Rooted Young Adults Class, and as we worked through it, I thought it would be cool to share.

Here’s the wording from the first few pages (slightly revised for the broader audience), and the download of the PDF below. Enjoy!



The spiritual element of this workbook could change your life. The dirty little secret about things that “change your life,” though, is that YOU have to change your life.

Only you can make changes to your life. At some point, life stops being about what others decide for you, and you have to start living by your own set of guidelines.

I think that’s why God calls Christians to be rooted and grounded IN HIM, because our evil hearts are so tricky… when we think we’re doing good, we end up making bad choices. So Bible choices always end up being good, even when we don’t understand them.

This workbook can only be life-changing if it means you start to live more by Bible principles than your own. Sometimes it takes a jolt to your routine to reset and rethink your path. Forcing yourself to write out an ethical code to live by is something that even secular writers like Ben Franklin of old and Tim Ferriss of today talk about. It’s a shame when unbelievers are more principled than we are!

When we’re talking about spiritual things, get real. Dive in deep to the assignments. Make a quiet time to go off and really put effort into your ethics codes. Think and write with depth, and share with others what you think God has for all of us!

-Pastor Ryan


Writing a Personal Code of Ethics

If your values are not reflected in your actions, are they really values at all?


  • “The principles of conduct governing an individual.”
  • Or, “Moral principles that govern a person’s behavior or the conducting of an activity.”
  • Or… what you do.


Why do you do what you do? You were raised with a certain code of ethics, much of which you follow unconsciously. But now that you’re rethinking your ethics (e.g. “do I REALLY believe…”) or getting to the root of your ethics (e.g. “WHY do I…”), writing down your thoughts helps you organize them.

I read a lot of writing books, most of which talk about writing as an exercise of uncovering ideas, not spreading ideas.  It’s not that we have an idea and want to get it into words; it’s that we don’t have a good idea until we can force it into words.


Reading makes a full man, conversation a ready man, and writing an exact man.

-Francis Bacon


Choose a topic (below) and create your own ethical statement to live by. Here’s a process to help you get started:


  • Who am I?
    • How would I describe myself?
    • How would others describe me?
  • What do I believe and value?
  • How do I think things ought to be in specific life situations in the world around you?
    • Which life situation?
    • How should it be?
  • Why do I believe what I believe?



  • Focus on a topic of life (e.g. words) and write out an ethical value in nugget form. (e.g. “My words should bless others…”)
  • Then expand and explain the idea represented by these few words in a paragraph.
    • IDEA: “mind vomit” out 10 different thoughts about your topic. No editing. No thinking. Just write the first things that come to mind. If you can’t come up with 10 things, come up with 20 instead. You’re thinking too hard… just write.
    • Support your ideas with Scripture and/or specific reasons.
  • Develop several ethical statements to regulate and inspire your daily behavior. (“I will…” “I can’t…” “I won’t…”)



  • Write and rewrite the nugget statements until you can remember exactly what you mean.
    • Example: Weighty Words: I will use communication to build and not destroy, to bring solutions rather than incite conflict. I will seek to understand before I seek to be understood, and I will not use my speech to belittle or intimidate another. Proverbs 18:21
  • Develop an explanation paragraph.
    • Example: building and not destroying means that even when I have a statement I think is true, if it’s not meant to HELP someone, I’m not going to say it. My friends might be gossiping about someone, but I’m not going to pitch in or laugh. Instead, I’ll say one good thing about him/her and change the subject. Solutions over conflict means that if I’m mad, I’ll cool down and not escalate the tension. My soft answer might be, “I’m sorry,” or, “You’re right,” or, “That’s true, and I hear you on that.” Understanding someone means that I’ll ask clarifying questions before jumping to conclusions (“Did you mean…”), and not belittling or intimidating others means that I’ll never laugh at someone, but every joke or comment will be made with him/her laughing with me at my side.


Review and Execute – the Sticky-Note Test

  • Keep these ethical statements in a place where you can review them regularly.
    • Write it on a sticky-note and put it on your mirror to review while you’re getting ready, or on your dashboard to review on your commute.
    • Work on it for a week
  • Act and live by the values and principles you believe.



  • Add to these statements as you discover new areas where you would like to direct and define your behavior.

Ethics is not what you think; it’s what you do.

The following are several topics that you might believe something about, but if your beliefs are not also actions, you might be lying to yourself. See steps 1–5 above, and then pick one topic to 1) think about, 2) write about, and 3) revise: (hint: your weakest area is a good sign of where to start, but your strongest area might give you a quick win. WHAT TOPIC you choose, and HOW you deal with it reveal a LOT about you even before you start!)