Do you have anyone in your life who asks the hard questions? You know, the ones like “How are you doing in using your time wisely?” Or “How are you doing as a wife/ husband/ parent/ leader/ follower?” Or just the simple yet profound “How are you doing spiritually?” For some reason, we have such a hard time asking those questions, and yet I think a lot of us need and even long for that kind of interaction.
Let me get personal and real here. I haven’t REALLY felt spiritually healthy for many years now. I’ve had a few bright spots over the years, and am confident God hasn’t given up on me. Yet I would have to say that “listless,” “wilting on the vine” and even “helpless and hopeless” describe how I have felt about my walk with God over the past decade.
This year, however, I have experienced renewed hope and attribute that largely to new contexts that are requiring me to be accountable. I am in a church that strongly emphasizes growth in Christ-likeness within the context of small groups. Guidelines for these groups include the directive to ask each other the hard questions on a regular basis. Even within this context, though, it’s not easy to follow that directive. In a recent discussion with my small group leader, she said “I know I don’t need to ask about your spiritual life because I’m sure you’re doing well there.” Thankfully God had prepared my heart to be honest and I was able to share a more accurate picture!
In addition, our SEND U staff has begun using an online shared document (on Google Sheets) to facilitate the planning of and reporting on progress toward our annual and monthly goals. Although primarily ministry-related, this document also requires us to regularly “take our pulse” in keys areas of personal health: walk with the Lord, family, relationships, physical and financial. Each staff person’s online spreadsheet is shared with the SEND U Director, allowing him to track how we are doing, ask questions to keep us focused, and provide assistance when we need help. Although we have only been using this for a couple of months, I have very much appreciated this “extrinsic motivation” that is helping me to get various aspects of my life back on track.
How about you? Do you need someone to ask you some hard questions? Or are you in a position where YOU should be asking those hard questions of others? SEND has some tools available to help. We are all expected to develop an Individual Growth Plan (IGP) this year. We are asked to identify areas in our life on which to focus in the upcoming year and to formulate some practical steps for growth. We are requested to share the completed IGP with a trusted friend or team leader for the purpose of accountability. I’m thankful that my ministry leader is proactive in asking me how I’m progressing in my plans for growth this year.
Availing of SEND’s coaching program is another practical way to help gain and maintain focus in life and ministry. As explained on the SENDU wiki,
“Coaching is all about asking powerful questions that enable the one being coached to more deeply and accurately reflect on their current situation and decide their next steps. A coach encourages you to take responsibility for accomplishing what you know you need to do. The coach then provides accountability as the coachee commits to a particular course of action.”
Having personally experienced the value of accountability recently, I commit to continue developing a lifestyle of accountability, answering (and learning to ask) the hard questions. How about you?