It’s common as we enter a new year to spend time in reflection. We may set goals or resolutions for the year. We may take stock of our work or our finances. We may reflect on the highlights and struggles of the last year or on our hopes and plans for the upcoming one.
As we seek to grow as disciples of Christ, reflection can be an important tool. Structured reflection gives us the space to celebrate how we’ve grown and consider what lies ahead as we continue to grow in Christlikeness.
Why not take time to reflect on your spiritual life as you enter the new year?
A spiritual growth inventory is a great way to set aside time to reflect. This can be done on your own, with a mentor or pastor, or in a small group setting. You can also ask a trusted friend or spouse for their input on areas in which you most need to grow.
Remember that as with any exercise like this, the point is not to earn our way into God’s favor or work our way into holiness. It also isn’t about heaping guilt on ourselves for all the ways we fall short of some spiritual ideal.
We are completely dependent on grace and the inner working of the Holy Spirit to transform our lives and hearts, and this transformation is a lifelong journey. This reality doesn’t mean we are passive with no part to play in our spiritual growth.
We should be striving to pay attention to the ways sin still holds strong in our lives and seeking ways to put it to death. We should be seeking to develop the habits of godliness and Christ-likeness, nurturing a character that is pleasing to him. A spiritual inventory can help us discern what areas of our life need the most attention.
The questions that follow are by no means exhaustive. You can work through all of them, or select only a few to consider. Feel free to adapt or add to them in any way that best suits your circumstances.
Spiritual Inventory Questions
How would you describe your walk with God over the last year?
How have you grown since first coming to faith? How do you feel you would most like and most need to grow?
What is one joy and one struggle in your life and ministry right now?
How has your church and faith community helped in your spiritual development? How is it helping you presently?
Which fruits of the Spirit are most evident in your day-to-day life (see Gal. 5:22)? Which fruits are least evident in your day-to-day life? Is there something hindering these fruits?
What trials have been present in your life over the last year? How did you respond to them? Did they bring you closer to the Lord or further away from him? Do/did you respond with trust or bitterness? What did these trials bring to the fore in your heart? What does this show you about your relationship with the Lord? What does this show you about any idols that may be present in your heart?
What are the besetting sins in your life that you are aware of? How are you trying to overcome them? Are you making excuses for any sin in your life? What would it look like for you to take its reality seriously?
What role do spiritual disciplines (Bible study, prayer, and others) play in your life? How have they aided your growth in spiritual maturity? What is something you’ve discovered recently in your devotional life? Are there any spiritual disciplines you would like to incorporate? Why?
What role does the Bible play in your life? Does it influence your decision making, your priorities, the way you see the world, etc? How has the Lord been speaking to you through His Word?
What is your prayer life like?
What does the way your spend your time reveal about your priorities? Are there things you spend too much or too little time doing? What adjustments do you need to make?
What opportunities do you have to engage in God’s work in the world? Are there opportunities in your life for ministry and service? Consider opportunities in your family life, workplace, neighborhood, community, etc. Are there opportunities to help those in need or to share your faith? Are there opportunities to build relationships with non-Christians or to encourage the faith journey of those who do know the Lord? How are you living into these opportunities?
As this inventory brings sin to light and shows areas in which you can grow, prayerfully turn these things over to the Lord. Repent of the ways you are missing the mark. Ask for His strength and wisdom as you seek to become more like Him. Then prayerfully consider action steps you can take to practically cut out the sin pattern(s) and foster a godly pattern of behavior. Seek out someone you trust who could be an accountability partner with you in this journey.