Self-Evaluation in Silence

As 2009 comes to the end and 2010 dawns on the horizon–I’m finding, again, the need to evaluate and set purposeful goals.  In this process, the noise of the world can get in the way.

Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church,  Seattle, Washington provides these great self-reflecting questions.  After reading the post and the questions.  You may want to join me in adapting the questions and finding a quite place to answer them before God as you think forward.

111609 Silence Solitude Image

This the last post in a series by Pastor Mark where he helpfully lays out the importance of silence and solitude, as well as how he approaches and utilizes the time. We hope it has been helpful for you as you grow in your faith in Jesus.

Journaling

The following is a copy of the template I created for myself to organize my days of silence and solitude for the purpose of journaling. I offer it knowing that you can and should change it to fit your life. This is not Scripture, it’s not perfect, and I don’t claim it is. Rather, it is a simple tool for you to adapt as you need. For me, I keep notes in my Moleskine throughout the week, and sit down to answer these questions on my laptop in a Word document. This keeps it simple for me and allows me to see God’s work in my life over time.

Ideally, every Christian would do a modified version of this plan every week as an act of worship, taking around an hour to answer a few of the questions that are most pressing for them. In addition, it is wise to take at least one full day a month in silence and solitude to answer all the questions without being rushed, leaving time to open your Bible, pray, repent, worship, and ponder.

Silence and Solitude Journaling Template

“. . . the report about him [Jesus] went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.” – Luke 5:15—16

Date:
Modified or Full Plan:
Note: Here I am making note if it’s one hour or one day for silence and solitude.
Place and Conditions:
Note: I am someone for whom space deeply matters. On a nice day I sit outside by a river or at the beach in a beautiful spot. I don’t like coffee shops (too noisy and crowded) or the office (too much distraction). I like to be up high with a view, crave fresh air, love the sun, and cannot relax where it’s loud, busy, ugly, stinky, disorganized, poorly designed, uncomfortable, or too hot or cold, and yes, I am picky. So, I note where I was and that helps me keep a record of nice spots for silence and solitude days. I borrow friends’ vacation homes, have spots I like outside of town in the mountains, and so forth.

Part 1 — Recent Evidences of God’s Grace

“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.” – 2 Thess. 2:16—17

Note: To have good words and works, we need hope and comfort by seeing and savoring evidences of God’s grace. I start with this topic to get me into a mode of worship. I can be quite a gloomy and moody person, so this gets me going in the right direction for my time with God. I often take an hour on this topic alone and make a long list, thanking God and praying as I go.

Part 2 — Deep Questions

“The purpose in a man’s mind is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.” – Prov. 20:5 (RSV)

Note: These are my questions and you can make your own or change mine. I don’t include Bible reading and study because they are like breathing to me, but you may want to add them. In question four I’m talking about my wife, Grace. I list each of my kids in question five because with a big family it’s too easy to treat the kids as a herd rather than knowing and pastoring each one. I put my work last, figuring that if the rest of my life is in order, work will go well. I rate every question on a scale so that I can be honest about how I’m doing and track progress over time. The prayer points are things I pray about as I’m journaling and things to put on my prayer list that week. The action items go on my calendar. Lastly, I share a lot of this with my wife, kids, friends, and others, and a lot of my blogs and ministry training are simply sharing what comes out of my journaling on days of silence and solitude.

1. How accurate is my view of God lately?
– Scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high)
– Prayer Points
– Action Items

2. How are my joy in the Holy Spirit and corresponding hope?
– Scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high)
– Prayer Points
– Action Items

3. What temptations and sins are most ensnaring?
– Scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high)
– Prayer Points
– Action Items

4. How is my connection with my wife {husband}?
– Scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high)
– Prayer Points
– Action Items

5. How is my connection with each of my children?
– Scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high)
– Prayer Points
– Action Items

6. How is my health (e.g., weight, diet, exercise)?
– Scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high)
– Prayer Points
– Action Items

7. How is my sleep (e.g., bed time, quality of sleep, length of sleep)?
– Scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high)
– Prayer Points
– Action Items

8. How is my energy level?
– Scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high)
– Prayer Points
– Action Items

9. How is my dominion over my technology (e.g., cell phone, laptop, email, text)?
– Scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high)
– Prayer Points
– Action Items

10. How is the stewardship of my wealth (e.g., finances, possessions, property, investments)?
– Scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high)
– Prayer Points
– Action Items

11. How is my social life with friends and extended family?
– Scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high)
– Prayer Points
– Action Items

12. Who or what is filling my tank lately?
– Scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high)
– Prayer Points
– Action Items

13. Who or what is draining my tank lately?
– Scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high)
– Prayer Points
– Action Items

14. Who has sinned against me and how am I responding?
– Scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high)
– Prayer Points
– Action Items

15. Who do I need to confide in and where should I seek wisdom?
– Scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high)
– Prayer Points
– Action Items

16. Are there any warning signs that I am burning out?
– Scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high)
– Prayer Points
– Action Items

17. Am I successfully getting out of the river onto the bank enough through silence, solitude, study, and Sabbath?
– Scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high)
– Prayer Points
– Action Items

18. What do I need to stop doing, do less of, or hand off to someone else?
– Scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high)
– Prayer Points
– Action Items

19. How are my self-deception and truth suppression?
– Scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high)
– Prayer Points
– Action Items

20. How is my writing (e.g., books, blogs, papers)? {How is my communication with others?}
– Scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high)
– Prayer Points
– Action Items

21. How is my preaching (preparation and results, in and out of Mars Hill)? {How is my personal ministry?}
– Scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high)
– Prayer Points
– Action Items

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