11 Jan Reflect to Invest – Four Questions to Ask as We Invest
This time of year, travel, vacation time, hosting or visiting with friends and family, and New Years leads many of us to be either drained and discouraged or excited and resolute for that “fresh start” of the change from dates ending in 2017 to 2018. I’ve never been one to make New Year’s resolutions, but do benefit from planning a few times a year to reflect, pray, and write down goals and prayers for the season ahead. For me, I spent several sessions of prayer and reflection in July and August preparing to enter my 4th year of Generation LINK and revisited my goals and prayers in December during our GLINK Mid-Year Retreat and while traveling. I recorded my goals and reflection as well as Scripture related to these things in my phone. It wasn’t a fancy or Instagram-worthy bullet journal entry, but the simplicity of having it as a note has let me return often for a self-check or guidance when my prayer life needs some focus.
(One of the goals recorded in my phone in July with action points)
Anyone who has been around me much, knows I just love asking questions of myself. I credit this practice on my favorite graduate school counseling skills professor who challenged us to always ask “self?” as we engage in reflection and personal growth as we trained to be counselors who would make a living asking others to reflect and grow. “Self?” was his encouragement to pause, reflect, and ask intentional questions of the self and practiced being good stewards of our lives. In the process of reflection in my life, I’ve found it most beneficial to ask questions of myself. These questions help me to focus on the Lord and direct my attention to how the Lord could work through setting goals and evaluating and preparing for the work of investing in others. As you reflect at the start of this year, or at any time that is helpful to your life and ministry, consider these four questions and prayers of response.
What am I about?
What will characterize my life for the year ahead, how do I want to grow, and ultimately, is my life focused on devotion to the Lord? What in my life communicates to the world that I am owned by my Savior and that my life’s aim is to worship the Lord alone? Examining our investments in others and the use of our time and finances is a great place to start in considering what we are about. When we really do this, we’ll likely to be challenged in several ways. As we think of investing in others (discipleship, mentoring, raising up new leaders to replace ourselves), what do they notice that characterizes our lives? We will point those under our care and leadership to the things we are about. Is that thing Christ?
Lord, may I be found faithful in the unseen tasks, exercise discipline and self-control, and would my time, money, words, and actions reflect a worship of God alone.
1 Corinthians 4:2 |Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.
Did the Bible live in me today?
This is one of John Wesley’s 22 Holy Club questions. If you aren’t familiar with these questions, they are worth reading and reflecting upon. I ask the full set of myself weekly and keep them posted at my desk and tucked in my Bible. “Did the Bible live in me today?” challenges me to not just have a regular habit to reading Scripture but to truly let it dwell in me, be on my mind and tongue, and breath life to myself and others.
This semester, Crosspoint’s small group leaders are being challenged to consider this quote by Robert Murray M’Cheyne as they practice spiritual disciplines and disciple – “The greatest need of my people is my personal holiness.” As I consider personal holiness and the disciplines of reading, studying, and memorizing Scripture, I pray that Scripture is one of the answers to the question of what I’m about.
Lord, help me to daily grow in the knowledge of your Word and to truly believe that it is indeed profitable for reproof, correction, and training in righteousness. Would I not offer others the wisdom of the world, but offer the wisdom of Scripture.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 | All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
Hebrews 4:12 | For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of the soul and of the spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Am I investing thinking I have unlimited time with this person?
Graduation, job changes, and relationship changes can happen quickly and sometimes unexpectedly. If our disciple or mentee were to move away tomorrow, what would we want to make sure they knew before they left? Are we investing selfishly or weakly because we think we’ll always have another meeting to talk about that important thing, address that sin, or read that Scripture together?
In the first seminary class I took in 2014, Christian Growth and Discipleship, Dr. Chuck Lawless challenged us to consider what evidence of discipleship looks like. If someone sat under our discipleship and instruction for a certain amount of time what would they know, do, and be like?
Each relationship we have grows differently and at a different rate, but our time with one another will always be limited. SummerLINK has had incredible influence in how I view relationships and investing in others. SummerLINK can be such a limited window of time together and has been the single thing the Lord has used to most impact my discipleship relationships to be focused on the gospel and have a sense of urgency in focusing on knowing Scripture and fighting sin together. If we had eight weeks, eight days, eight hours, or eight minutes with someone, what would we teach them?
In 2017, four of my best friends got married and about a dozen friends moved away permanently, four moving in the same week in June. I also spent 8 weeks investing in 8 Summer LINK Clemson women. So much change. Some was anticipated and expected, other was more unexpected. I was also continually blown away by the Lord providing several new or deepening friendships. I am so greatly challenged to ask if I invested well in these ever-changing relationships? If things were left unsaid or untaught, how can, by the Lord’s grace and power, I seek to grow in boldness, wisdom, and teaching, as I interact with those under my leadership and care now.
Lord, may my time be used for your purposes and will, because the days are indeed evil. Lord, give me discernment in relationships and how I spend my time. Would my friendships and interactions with others be characterized by a joint pursuit for the things of You.
Ephesians 5:15-16 | Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.
Am I doing or willing to do what I’m asking of others?
Expectation. I’ve found that disappointment in my life often comes from expecting something of myself or someone else that doesn’t happen. Much frustration or let down in relationships in my life has come from not having the same expectations of each other or a situation. Self, am I displaying the same kind of vulnerability and openness that I’m asking of the other person? Am I willing to share the gospel, confess sin, or have that hard conversation? This topic could be a blog on its own, but the general idea here is this – are we doing what we are asking or expecting of others? In my life, I’ve been spurred on to be more outgoing, talk to strangers at the gym or on Sundays, or be the first to extend an invite or share about something the Lord is teaching me or confess a sin. If I am unwilling to move towards others or truly share life, how can I expect the same of others?
Lord, give us a heart for your people and give generously and selflessly of ourselves. Help me to be generous with my time, money, and resources and be bold in evangelism and speaking truth in love.
1 Thessalonians 2:8 | So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.
As we seek to reflect for the purposes of growth and investing well in the next generation of disciples of Jesus Christ, I pray our hearts are continually encouraged and fed by Scripture and that the gospel moves us to radical love of others.
Generation LINK Resident | 2014 – present | Crosspoint Church | Clemson, SC
Unexpected Friendship: Alyssa and I met in 2013 when she participated in Summer LINK Seattle which was led by my Small Group Leader at the time, and now Crosspoint’s Student Minister, Brock Bass. After return to Virginia to finish school and working as an elementary school teacher, Alyssa began the residency in Clemson in 2016. In 2013, we would have never guessed the Lord would make us roommates and co-laborers in ministry here in Clemson.
Season of Change: A sweet moment in time in June before several friends left for the summer – some moved permanently, others returned after serving with Summer LINK