Ten Questions to Ask Yourself
In the past couple weeks, Luke, our seven month old, started sleeping for 12 hour stretches at night. As proud as I am to see him grow, I’m probably even happier about my ability to sleep through the night again! We expect babies to develop and mature. In the same way, Christians should also develop and mature. We would never call a child who stops growing at age five normal, but we don’t often have the same expectations in our Christian life. Can you look back and see ways you’ve grown in Christian maturity over the last year? What about the last five?
What does Christian maturity look like? Consider 1 Timothy 3, where Paul lists the qualifications for elders: “Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect.” This may lead you to think that these are special traits for special Christians, yet throughout scripture, the Bible treats these characteristics as qualities every Christian should have or develop:
What does a godly life look like? It’s being committed to your spouse, self-controlled, gentle, well thought of by others. The capstone of Christian maturity is found in simple yet often neglected character traits. How do we develop godly character? It is through Christ’s work in us, yet we are told to “make every effort” ( 2 Peter 1:5) in this work of character development.
I encourage you all to take advantage of the new year to recommit to growing in your Christian life. Each January I often set aside an evening to prayerfully work through a set of questions. Some of these might not work for you, but perhaps they can get you thinking about how to grow in Christian maturity this year.
What change will make the biggest difference in my life?
What do I need to stop doing?
What will I willfully neglect this year?
There are many things that are not sinful, or even bad, but are unhelpful or a waste of time. These things often keep you from making progress on more important things.
How am I going to grow in Scripture?
This past year I attempted to read one book of the Bible each month over and over and then do another book the next month. You can also pick a Bible reading plan or set some goal for reading Scripture regularly.
What relationships do I need to prioritize?
Are there any relationship you realize you’ve neglected. What about ones you taken for granted?
What books am I going to read?
We tend to read what’s easy for us, whether it’s mysteries, blogs or twitter posts. Pick a book or two that will stretch you. I will usually decide how soon I want to finish the book, then divide the pages accordingly, with a day or two off each week.With this method you can get through some of the longest and most challenging books.
What skill do I want to learn or improve?
When this year is finished, what will disappoint me most if I don’t do it?
Once you have that goal, make a plan and set small goals to help you get there.
What will I pray for continually this year?
For whose salvation will I pray the most?
Write your answers down somewhere and review them once a month so you don’t forget. Don’t worry about changing or even getting rid of some of the goals if they don’t seem right anymore. This is about growing in character, not simply completing a checklist. Remember that something is better than nothing. If you find yourself unable to meet your goals, don’t beat yourself up; simply adjust the bar to be more realistic. In the end, you will still have done more than if you’d simply given up.