January – the new year – brings much talk of resolutions, goal setting, fresh starts, and new beginnings. Personally, while all of these are great, I think January is a wonderful time for self-reflection.
Self-Reflection (also often referred to as personal reflection or soul searching) is the spiritual practice of PAYING ATTENTION in order that we might grow in our love for God and others. Soul searching is very important to the health of our soul. This practice helps to reveal those things that draw us away from God.
Searching the soul is not an easy task. It is, in fact, a very difficult and humbling experience. One that causes us to realize that we are not as wonderful as we think we are and that life is simply not all about us. Soul searching can even at times be an extremely painful experience.
Engaging in periods of personal self-reflection helps us to learn more about ourselves than we ever knew before; hard things – things we wish we did not know, things we do not want to admit to ourselves and especially not to others, things that need to be acknowledged and dealt with.
The spiritual practice of soul searching IS hard, but the benefits of the discomfort and, yes, even the pain are so worth it. It is through the recognizing, acknowledging, and releasing to God of these very hard personal things that we are drawn closer to Him. It is here where we discover that God has given us a greater purpose; a purpose for His glorification and kingdom advancement, not a purpose that revolves around us. It is here where we learn to live our lives by God’s design.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and
know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24)!
Below are just a few thoughtful questions that you might choose to work through as an exercise in self-reflection. As you read through the questions, commit to answering them honestly even if the truth is hard. Take some time. Do not hurry through this task. You might even make the choice to record your answers in a self-reflection journal. This added element will provide you with information for future soul searching and become a written record of your spiritual journey.
- Has there ever been a time in my life that I was more in love with Jesus than I am right now?
- In which spiritual discipline do I most want to make progress this year, and what will I do about it?
- How well am I obeying His Word?
- Am I worshipping Him for who He is, not for what He does for me?
- Am I grumbling and complaining? Do I try to have an “Attitude of Gratitude?”
- Am I modeling His nature and character in my choices and taking every thought captive and making it obedient to Christ?
- What am I currently doing that I need to say “no” to?
- What is the single biggest time-waster in my life, and what will I do about it this year?
- What is one thing I can do this year to enrich the spiritual legacy I will leave to my children and grandchildren?
- Have I grown in the last five years? In the last year?
- What is one habit I would most like to establish this year?
- Am I investing my life into the lives of others?
Other introspective questions can be found in my book, Soul Nourishment: Satisfying Our Deep Longing for God if you found this exercise to be beneficial. Soul Nourishment can be found at www.amazon.com or www.createspace.com.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the spiritual practice of self-reflection (soul searching) or have you share any questions your find personally challenging as you engage in self-reflection.
Some questions in the list taken from:
Consider Your Ways by Donald Whitney, http://www.lifeway.com/Article/church-leader-pastor-Consider-your-ways-in-the-New-Year.
5 Key Self-Reflections for Leadership Growth by Jim Wideman, http://www.churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/162310-5-key-self-reflections-for-leadership-growth.html.