Every year, around this time, I take an inventory of my life. I believe it is important to be honest and real with myself because my goal is to continually strive for growth and maturity. I want to be able to look back each year and see progress in my life. Some years are more eventful than others, but every year is important and capable of producing fruit.
In an effort to evaluate my year I ask a series of questions. These questions are designed to help me think through important categories of my life. What I have noticed is that this brief exercise tends to be more encouraging and inspiring than discouraging or disheartening.
Hopefully these simple questions will help you take an honest look at your life and inspire you to use the approaching New Year to its fullest potential.
1. AM I GROWING AS A CHRISTIAN?
The most important relationship in my life is my relationship with Jesus! When this is going well, then everything else in my life is impacted in a positive way.
The big thing to look at here is SANCTIFICATION. Sanctification is the process of becoming more and more like Jesus. What’s so amazing about sanctification is that it’s a process empowered by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is committed to transforming Christians into the likeness of Christ. As our relationship with Jesus deepens and our desire to be like Him grows, the Holy Spirit works in our hearts and lives to strip away the old person and replace it with the new.
“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6, ESV)
2. AM I GROWING AS A HUSBAND? (AM I GROWING AS A SPOUSE, PARENT, SIBLING, SON, DAUGHTER, ETC.)?
I cannot overstate the importance of providing an honest answer to this question. I treasure my relationship with my wife, and my goal is to continue to grow into the husband that God has called me to be. Sometimes I am blind to my failures, so it’s helpful to remind myself of what God’s word says about husbands.
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…” (Ephesians 5:25, ESV)
(For more on the roles of husbands, wives, parents, and children, read Ephesians 5:22-6:4)
3. AM I GROWING AS A PASTOR? (AM I GROWING IN MY PROFESSION)?
I really love what I do! It isn’t an easy calling, but it definitely brings me joy.
Whether someone loves their job or not, it is important for them to continually grow in their profession. It is clear in Scripture that all of life matters. There is no such thing as a sacred and secular divide. All of our work could be, and should be done, for the glory of God.
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men…” (Colossians 3:23, ESV)
4. AM I GROWING AS A FRIEND?
Friendship is so important! With that being said, it is easy for me to overlook my growth in this area. Sometimes I just expect my friends to keep up with my changes and continue to like me no matter what I do.
The reality is, friendship takes work! It takes a good deal of trust, communication, and forgiveness. Don’t be content with a plethora of inch deep friendships. Instead, strive to build friendships that are deep and lasting. It is worth your time and energy.
“A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24)
5. AM I GROWING IN GENEROSITY?
This question always reveals what’s going on in my heart! As a disciple of Jesus, I want to strive to continually grow in generosity.
What’s interesting to me is that Jesus taught about money more than anyone else in the Bible. According to Him, the way we use our money gives us a good glimpse of what is going on in our hearts. We really have two options… Leverage our money to help build God’s Kingdom (an everlasting kingdom), or leverage our money to help build our own kingdom.
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21, ESV)
“God has given us two hands — one to receive with and the other to give with. We are not cisterns made for hoarding; we are channels made for giving.” ~Billy Graham
“You say, ‘If I had a little more, I should be very satisfied.’ You make a mistake. If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled.” ~Charles H. Spurgeon