I feel the need to “Stop, look, and listen.” I’m not talking about the proper steps for safely crossing a street. Though I’m sure I could force an analogy. No, I feel the need for some spiritual reflection on the year behind to prepare to move forward into the year ahead.
For a Christian, becoming like Jesus is an on-going, life-long transformation process (aka “sanctification”). While only God can do the actual transforming work, He calls us to position ourselves before Him through obedience and spiritual discipline. This is what Paul told Timothy to do when he said “train yourself to be godly” (see 1 Timothy 4:7-8).
Before this holiday weekend is over, I plan to “stop, look, and listen” so I can position myself to receive all God has for me in 2011. I encourage – and even challenge – you to “stop, look, and listen” too. Here are some tips to help you in that spiritual endeavor.
Set aside some extra time to spend with God over and above your regular quiet time. You can do it in one big chunk or several smaller ones over a few days. The important thing is that this time is completely devoted to this process.
Honestly reflect on 2010. Start with prayer and ask God to examine your heart and mind (Ps 139:23-24). Are you as close to God as you would like to be? Did you experience significant spiritual growth? If not, why not? Did God convict you of sin that is still in your life? Did you follow through on all of God’s guidance and direction? Did certain topics or areas of your life keep popping up again and again? If you journal, review your entries. Here are two helpful tools:
- Discipleship Evaluation – Quick personal survey to show you areas of strength and weakness.
- Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health by Donald Whitney – Ten introspective questions to gauge your spiritual health.
Ask God questions. What changes, new attitudes, and actions does God want you to incorporate in 2011? Evaluate the roll that the spiritual disciplines play in your life. Commitment to these disciplines position us for God to work. What steps of obedience does God want you to take? God may lead you to commit to a regular time of prayer and Bible reading. He may also ask you to forgive someone, heal a broken relationship, or serve in some specific capacity. Here are a couple of helpful resources for spiritual disciplines:
- Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald Whitney – This book shows why the disciplines are important, how they will help you grow in godliness, and offers practical suggestions for incorporating them into your life.
- Discipleship Helps and Tools – This page of my site is full of tools and practical helps. Find Bible reading plans, quiet time tips, prayer helps, Scripture memory suggestions, and more. Feel free to print and share!
Last year God led me to set some goals and establish some standards for behavior for 2010. I actually typed them up, shared them with an accountability partner, and referred back to them throughout the year. I was faithful in some but struggled in others. I did experience spiritual growth but not as much as I could have. These goals will be the first thing I review in preparation for 2011.
Will you join me as I “stop, look, and listen” this weekend? I’d love to hear how God is directing you and what you experience!