1.) Am I lingering in the Lord?
If Jesus is the source and wellspring of all that is good, meaningful, and faithful, am I attending to Him well so that He might tend well to my life? Do I linger, giving him space to speak, lead, convict, love and encourage? Do I treat my time with Him as an obligation to get through?
2.) Have I found ways to justify my time away from the spring of living water...or replaced it with a distraction?
In John 4, Jesus suggests that He is the Living Water that brings life. Sometimes we wander from the spring of living water, thinking we can do well in the land without it. We give ourselves permission, making up excuses, “I’m too busy.” (etc.) Have I grown distracted with gaming, social media, and binge-watching, contributing to my time away from grace?
3.) Do I give the Spirit of God space to bridle my tongue keeping me from unkind, unwise, uncaring, and unfaithful words?
Am I rash, abrasive, and ill-tempered with my words? Do I demean, condescend, react unprayerfully, spread gossip, or speak maliciously? Faithfulness in attending to regular rhythms of spiritual formation ensures that when we speak, we’ve done so first giving space to the Spirit to bridle our often unruly tongue.
4.) Do the words I speak and the ways in which I speak them reflect to the Biblical call toward gentleness, peace-making, being full of grace and seasoned with salt?
Out of the mouth flows the thoughts of the heart. A heart surrendered will reflect the Scriptural truth that our words carry power and often create our environments. What type of environment am I creating?
5.) Am I currently prone to breaches in integrity because of exhaustion, frustration, bitterness, or spiritual lethargy?
In the end, all we have is our integrity. I believe that with all my heart. No matter what we’ve accomplished, if that is not consistent with the way in which we’ve faithfully lived our lives, our accomplishments will be overshadowed by our lack of character. There are many sabotage artists to our integrity. Our practices of spiritual formation ensure that we guard against such breaches.
6.) Am I currently harboring the seeds of sin and systematically shutting out voices that might call me, in love, on that sin?
Once we’ve become lax in our spiritual formation, we begin to harbor sin deep in our hearts. We begin to quiet the voice of God, listening instead to the selfish desires of our heart that often speak loudly. Having moved away from the living water, we systematically attempt to remove ourselves from situations in which those that splash around in the living water hang out. We don’t want their voices speaking into our self-justifying actions.
7.) What assumed failure on God’s part has given me reason to take back control of my life and forge my own path?
When we feel let down by God, we often tell ourselves we can do a better job. Without an intimacy of trust in the midst of difficult situations, we will take charge. Those tendencies for control will lead us down paths of self-determination and toward a hardness of heart.
8.) Have I chosen a path of least resistance when faithfulness might have demanded that I stay in the fray and work hard to prevail in this challenge?
When I begin looking for the easy way out, I tend to find that as an alert to my spiritual bankruptcy. The world invites us to live a life on a “path of least resistance.” “It should be easy.” We are told. However, a life shaped by grace and strengthened by God stands in the fray and works in conjunction with the Spirit of God to prevail in the challenges we face.
9.) Am I prone to believe that everyone around me needs to change?
When spiritual formation takes a back seat in our lives, we become increasingly self-deceptive. We begin to tell ourselves that we are in the right and everyone else is in the wrong. We tell ourselves that if everyone else changes, all would be well. Self-deception is often the set up for our own undoing. Humble confession, fostered in a spirit of prayer, trusts God to reveal to us our place in our conflict and chaos.
10.) Have I replaced my cross with my banner?
The journey of Jesus is one of sacrifice and self-giving holy love. It is a life lived, giving itself away for the sake of others, on behalf of the Kingdom of God. It’s the way of the cross. However, inattention to our spiritual formation will mean we lay down our cross and pick up our selfish banners, making life about me, mine, and getting what I deserve. When I pick up my banner, I’ve stopped following Jesus.
How’s your pulse?