Transitions seem to come more often than they used to — or is it just me? This invites thoughtful reflection to be built into our lives. Reflection can be difficult. Waiting is hard. Here’s how I said it in a recent sermon: “Not only do we want to read the Bible but we also want the Bible to read us.” This involves thoughtfulness and sensitivity. Consistent reflection invites us to regularly “check in” on the state of our spiritual and emotional lives. It’s an honest look at ourselves to consider both our strengths and giftings as well as our growth areas and strongest temptations. The Latin phrase for living in God’s presence is coram Deo, which is translated “in the presence of God” and summarizes the idea of Christians living in the presence of, under the authority of, and to the honor and glory of God. Reflection makes room for us to be on the lookout for God — in our own lives, in the lives of those around us (Christian or not), in our church, and in our world. Reflecting on who we are, who God is making us to be, how God is working in us, and how God is working around us will allow us to live more fully thoughtful and focused lives.
Reflecting means that for the moment we turn from reading to understand to asking questions to understand. One set of questions that I have returned to through the years are the following ten. Consider taking some time in the next few days to get alone with God and reflect honestly and pray through them.
I adapted this exercise from an interview H.B. London conducted with Bobb Biehl. The interview was on the topic of leadership. Biehl described a leader as one who knows three things:
- What to do next? (What do you need to do next?)
- Why it is important? (Why do you need to do that?)
- How to appropriate the resources to bear on the need at hand? (What will it cost? Hint: It’s not always about the money.)
Reflect in the following ways:
Stage one: Write down everything you know you need to accomplish in the next 3-6 months. Make two lists, combining work and personal objectives.
Stage two: Ask yourself, “What brings me joy?” There are big joys and there are small joys. What are those — big and small? Add joy to your schedule.
Stage three: Walk through these questions prayerfully and with determination. Ask for input from trusted friends as/if needed.
- What is my single greatest strength? What do I do best? What is that one thing?
- What three (upcoming) decisions are causing me the greatest stress?
- What tends to overwhelm me? (Be specific)
- What seemingly impassable roadblock has me stuck?
- If I could only do three things in my lifetime (Either three goals I wish to accomplish or three problem’s I’d like to solve), what three things would I do?
- Is there anything that I need to stop doing or resign from? (Remember the definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting the result to be different each time.) Remember, knowing what NOT to do is just as important as knowing what TO do!
- What may need to be postponed? The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage, but everyone who is hasty comes surely to poverty. –Proverbs 21:5
- What things on my to do list could others do 80% as well? Let them do it.
- What are the elephants in the room? Either at work or at home, what are we not talking about that needs to be addressed? Addressing these issues will take some thoughtful and careful planning. Communicate your desire and go into the meeting with a humble heart and listening ear. Seek first to understand and then to be understood.
- What are the three things I could do in the next sixty days to make a 50% difference?
Reflect, pray, plan, pray, and lovingly lead your life.
[God], You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. –Psalm 16:11
To him [God] who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. –Jude 1:2-5
Relax, God’s got this.