Back in August I wrote an article based on a question that my good friend asked me recently: “What is the state of your soul this week?” You can read that article here. As I have continued to reflect on the importance of that question, I have considered the danger of assumptions. I believe that one of the greatest hindrances to discipleship is that often so much is assumed. When I talk about discipleship with another believer, for instance, I usually operate under the assumption that they know what I mean by discipleship. But do they really understand what I mean by that? After more than 15 years in student ministry I coming to understand just how dangerous those assumptions are. We need to trade assumption in for clarity. And we must never assume clarity!
I think this is true when it comes to this specific question. And perhaps this is one of the key reasons why it makes us feel so uncomfortable. I think everyone would readily agree that each of the words that make up that question makes sense. We have a grasp on the language. We don’t necessarily need to consult a dictionary to have understanding. But as those words work together to form the specific question, I wonder how many of us struggle to even begin to shape an answer.
As I wrote in the article linked above: “If we are incapable of even articulating how we are doing spiritually, how can we expect to grow spiritually?”
So I’ve been giving some thought to the various elements that should be involved in helping us understand how to answer this question of the state of our souls. Here is what I’ve come up with. We’ve begun using these elements as a tool with our students at Westwood, and we are already seeing fruit from it, I believe! I’d love for you to use this as a tool in helping you answer this question and to have real, authentic conversations with other believers as you push each other deeper into maturity and into Christ!
Element 1: Communion
The Key Question: How would you describe your current personal relationship and walk with Jesus? (John 15:4-5)
Element 2: Sin
The Key Question: Are you currently struggling with any specific sins of omission or commission for which you need to confess or repent? (1 John 1:7-10)
Element 3: Affection
The Key Question: What does your life reveal about the aim and direction of your heart, or affections? (Colossians 3:1; Matthew 6:21)
Element 4: Consumption
The Key Question: Are the things you are consuming promoting health and life, or corruption and death? (1 John 2:15-17)
Element 5: Impact
The Key Question: What is the current impact of your life on others within your scope of influence? (Philippians 3:17; Proverbs 27:17)
Element 6: Expression
The Key Question: Is there anything you can point to in the outward expression of your life that reveals the reality of ongoing inward transformation? (Galatians 5:22-23)
This is a bit of work in progress, and I look forward to how this tool evolves as I continue to use it and assess it. What are your thoughts about the elements I’ve included? What would you add? How would you add to the discussion? If you put this tool to use, I’d love to hear about your experience in using it! Below is a bookmark that I created and gave out to our students at Westwood. Print it out, stick it in your Bible or journal so that you can refer to it often!