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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Spiritual Evaluation: Some Questions for Consideration

Dr. Donald Whitney has been a blessing to me for years, ever since I had a doctoral seminar with him at Midwestern Seminary.  Shortly after that, he moved on to Southern Seminary (I don’t think having me as a student prompted that in any way…I think).  There he developed an entire program focusing on Spiritual Formation, Spiritual Disciplines, etc.

He has written several books which have stayed in regular use in my life.  He has a great little book on Family Worship, as well as the more well known texts on Spiritual Disciplines, both for individuals and for churches.  But one of my favorites is a short little work called Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health.  Written as a means of regularly evaluating some key areas in our lives, I have used this personally and with study groups over and over.

The “Ten Questions” idea has also prompted Dr. Whitney to compose a few lists for various occasions.  At his website, you can find list of ten questions to ask at Christmas and Easter gatherings, or at a class reunion, and even about a couple of controversial books.

Since this is the end of the year, I thought I would call your attention to the list of ten questions designed either for your birthday, or the end/beginning of the year.  We are all in the “evaluating” mood at this time of year, so this is a good time to evaluate your spiritual life/health and see if there are some areas that might need a little work.  Dr. Whitney has put these together as bulletin inserts, and they are copyrighted, but I hope he won’t mind me just listing some of the questions themselves. So here are the ten questions to consider as we end 2013 and look to 2014:

1. What’s one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?
2. What’s the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?
3. What’s the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?
4. In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year, and what will you do about it?
5. What is the single biggest time - waster in your life, and what will you do about it this year?
6. What is the most helpful new way you could strengthen your church?
7. For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year?
8. What’s the most important way you will, by God’s grace, try to make this year different from last year?
9. What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?
10. What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in ten years? In eternity?

Dr. Whitney’s bulletin insert goes on to include 21 more questions to dig deeper into some evaluation.  He suggests going over the whole list in one sitting, or maybe combing the 10 with the 21 to give you one question a day for the month.  Some of those further questions include things like:

11. What’s the most important decision you need to make this year?
14. What habit would you most like to establish this year?
18. What’s one new way you could be a blessing to your pastor (or to another who ministers to you) this year?
19. What’s one thing you could do this year to enrich the spiritual legacy you will leave to your children and grandchildren?
20. What book, in addition to the Bible, do you most want to read this year?
21. What one thing do you most regret about last year, and what will you do about it this year?
23. In what area of your life do you most need growth, and what will you do about it this year?
28. What one biblical doctrine do you most want to understand better this year, and what will you do about it?
31. In what area of your life do you most need change, and what will you do about it this year?

Check out the full list here, and while you’re at it, you may want to browse around the rest of Dr. Whitney’s site.  There is some good stuff there.

Anyway, I hope this is helpful as you think back over 2013 and look to see what God may be doing in your life in 2014.  But remember, this kind of evaluation isn’t limited to once a year.  Regular evaluation of our spiritual health is just as important, if not more so than regularly checking our physical health.  Here’s hoping you have a healthy new year. 

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