Meanderings of a Minister

Diagnosing Your Spiritual Health

Don Whitney, in his book Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health, gives the following ten questions as a means of determining if you are growing in your faith, treading water, or actually backsliding:

  1. Do you thirst for God?
  2. Are you governed increasingly by God’s Word?
  3. Are you more loving?
  4. Are you more sensitive to God’s presence?
  5. Do you have a growing concern for the spiritual and temporal needs of others?
  6. Do you delight in the bride of Christ?
  7. Are the spiritual disciplines increasingly important to you?
  8. Do you still grieve over sin?
  9. Are you a quicker forgiver?
  10. Do you yearn for Heaven and to be with Jesus?[1]

Chances are very good, if you are like most Christians, you have not really spent much time thinking about these things lately.  Whitney suggests that these questions provide a sort of spiritual pulse in the life of a growing believer.  If you answered know to most or all of these questions, you are probably spiritually backslidden, or perhaps not yet a believer.  If you answered no to some of the questions, but not most, you may be seeing the beginning of a spiritual growth problem.  If you answered yes to all of the questions, honestly, then you are growing and are probably relatively healthy.  If you are offended to be asked, you probably have some other issues.

“So what do I do if I am not doing so well in growing spiritually?”  I am glad you asked!  Jesus addressed this in his letter to the church at Ephesus in Revelation 2:5 “Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place – unless you repent.”[2]  The best place for you get help in these and other matters is your local church.  I am not saying you must go to my church in order to grow.  That would be prideful and ridiculous!  But you must attend a Bible-believing church that preaches and teaches and disciples people in the Word of God.  With the holidays on us shortly, what a great time to plug in to a local church and get started making some good habits that could just make this your best year yet!

[1] Donald S. Whitney, Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health, Navpress, Colorado Springs, CO, 2001.

[2] New American Standard Bible, The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, CA, 1995.


How Old Are You Spiritually?


The staff at First Southern Baptist Church in Liberal have been wrestling with a question for the last several months.  “How do you get people to love Jesus more?”  We provide opportunities for people to grow spiritually, but many don’t seem interested.  While most of the people at our church would call themselves mature followers of Christ, what does that even mean?  And how do you get people to want to move further along the continuum of growth?  How do you (or they, for that matter) know where they are in their Christian growth?  At a recent meeting of the Liberal Ministerial Alliance, the pastors were talking and we all pretty much agreed that we all want Christians to mature in their faith.  What does THAT mean?

As I have wrestled with this issue, I have come across a great little resource that at least attempts to quantify the life signs of believers at the various stages of growth.  While we can certainly disagree about exactly what characteristics go where, Jim Putman at least begins the conversation in a way I found helpful.  In his book, Real-Life Discipleship, he lays out spiritual growth with the following paradigm:

Stage 1:  Spiritually Dead.  This means someone who is not born again.  They are alienated from God, opposed to God, and unable to understand the things of God.  (Revelation 20:14, John 3:3-5)

Stage 2:  Spiritual Infant.  As a new believer, they are excited and eager to learn.  They know something has changed, but really don’t know what it means.  They are quick to mention their new faith to all who will listen, but they tend to make messes because they really don’t understand how their new faith works.

Stage 3.  Spiritual Child.  Having moved past the infancy of their newfound faith, they understand the basics of the faith.  They can be excited about their faith in ways that many others consider cute.  They often act childish and often characterized by childish behavior like only do what they should when threatened or rewarded.  They are often self-centered in their interaction with church and want their way and comfort to be paramount.  They can sometimes give in and allows others to get their way if they are recognized for doing so, but this often is short-lived.

Stage 4.  Spiritual Young Adult.  By this stage, they have grown immensely from where they started.  They are eager to serve and think independently, but they have not yet learned to embrace their responsibilities as a follower of Jesus Christ.  They still have a lot to learn about meeting the spiritual needs of others.  They serve intentionally, but don’t share their faith intentionally.

Stage 5.  Spiritual Parent.  This final stage of development is when they are mature enough to reproduce disciples that will reproduce disciples.  By definition, they are reproducing.  They are not merely able to do so.  They actually do.  They actively engage in evangelism and carry through to discipleship.  They are strategic in their thinking and their lives.

If Jim Putman is right, or at least mostly right, how old are you spiritually?  Have you been born again?  Have you willingly and knowingly accepted that Jesus really is God the Son?  Has that realization caused you to reflect upon who rules your life?  Have that reflection led you to seek forgiveness for the choices you have made as though you were in charge?  Have you surrendered your life to the leadership of God through His Son?  If so, congratulations.  You might be a spiritual infant.  If not, you are still spiritually dead.

Are you excited about being a follower of Jesus, but not really sure of the difference between Christianity and other religions except that Christianity works for you?  You might be a spiritual infant.

Have you grown in your faith, but find yourself preferring your way all of the time?  Do you despise the new music, find yourself envious of others that get to have things their way?  You might be a spiritual child.

Have you grown in your faith, feel other-centered, and feel as though you have a pretty good relationship with God, but don’t have a strategic plan for evangelizing and discipling so that you are reproducing?  You might be a spiritual young adult.

Are you regularly leading people into and deeper into a relationship with Christ?  Do you find your greatest fulfillment in seeing others grow into maturity and reproduce using their Spiritual Gifts?  You might be a spiritual parent.

So…how old are you spiritually?

Time for a Faith Check
February 10, 2012, 8:20 pm
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We are just over a month into the new year.  How are you doing on your resolutions?  Chance are very good that many of those heartfelt goals and dreams have long been dashed upon the rocks of reality.  The thing about resolutions is that they are usually set so absolutely that, once broken, they are abandoned because they become untenable.  For instance, I resolve to read my Bible every day.  The first day I miss reading my Bible, I can never fulfill the resolution because I was supposed to be resolved to read every day.  This can lead to checking out completely.

If one of your resolutions was to grow in your relationship to Christ, I would like to help by giving you a way to check on this progress in a way that does not leave you checked in or checked out, but gives you a scale to see where you are and if you are making progress.  These questions are taken from messages I have been preaching lately and I find them helpful for taking our spiritual temperature.

  1. Are you preparing to receive God’s blessing?  (Are you doing those things that need to be done to be used for His glory?  Are you reading your Bible for application, praying for relationship, serving using the gifts He has given you and sharing the gospel and what you have with those that are in need?)(2 Kings 3)
  2. Are you crying out to God for His help to grow?(2 Kings 4:1-7)
  3. Are you obeying what God has told you in the past?  (2 Kings 4:1-7)
  4. Are you believing that God wants to bless you and use you to bring Him glory?  (2 Kings 4:8-17)
  5. Do you believe God CAN bless you and use you to bring Him glory?  (2 Kings 4:8-17)
  6. Are you desperate for God’s help to the point you won’t let go until you see Him working?  (2 Kings 4:18-37)
  7. Are you thanking God for the work He has already done in saving you and growing you thus far through your journey of walking with Him?  (2 Kings 4:18-37)

This is a good start to begin to look at your spiritual growth this year.  Next week, we will add to this list from more of the book of 2 Kings.  When considering the above questions, don’t answer yes or no, but ask how you are doing in growing.  Are you dead and not growing (1) or are you humming along and growing greatly (10)?

Based upon your assessment, what need to change?  Why not pray right now and ask God to help you move more towards growing greatly (10) no matter where you find yourself?