Grade Yourself

In a book I read recently ( Two Steps Forward by Sharon Garlough Brown — Book Review )  one of the main characters is a grad student.  On a final paper about her spiritual development, the professor tells the students they should grade their assignment themselves.  This made me think — how would I grade myself on my own spiritual disciplines:  how would I grade my prayer life, my personal evangelism, my study?  In the book, it causes quite a quandary — there is a temptation to “grade oneself” high enough to  obtain a certain mark in the class;  but there is also a desire to appear humble.  Are we able to grade ourselves honestly?

The Bible, as always,, has something to say about this.  In the book of Romans we read:

” By the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.”  Romans 12:3

Paul then goes on to say how we are to evaluate ourselves:

” We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. “Romans 12:6

So, have you taken the time to determine what your spiritual gifts are?  Are you using them to build up the body of Christ?

”   love  must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.  Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves”  Romans 12:9-10 

Are you sincere in your love for others, and particularly for others in the church?

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 11-12

Are you regularly practicing the spiritual disciplines of prayer and service, not as a chore, but as a privilege, trusting God to be faithful?

“Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”  Romans 12:12

How generous are you with your material blessings?

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18

How often do you put your own desires aside to maintain peace and harmony with others?  Do you nurture angry thoughts or seek revenge?

You get the idea.  It’s not an easy task to grade yourself.  We all want to believe we’re doing pretty well — maybe even very well.  But think about these things “with sober judgement” — what’s your grade?

For more about growing spiritually see:

Fanning the Flame #16 Personal Spiritual Discipline

Are You a Spiritual Person?

Let Your Spiritual Gifts S–T–R–E–T–C–H You



The Other Half of Church by Jim Wilder & Michel Hendricks–Book Review

Is something missing in your journey toward spiritual maturity?  According to the authors, it could be because the usual discipleship model is only utilizing half of your brain — namely the left half.  Left brain discipleship focuses on beliefs, doctrines, willpower and spiritual disciplines.  The idea is that if we understand the truth and think correctly, we will make wiser choices and grow spiritually.  Although this is certainly part of the equation, it ignores right brain skills such as loving attachments, joy, emotional development and identity.  Often the result is Christians who know what is right, but often don’t behave that way.

The remedy, according to Wilder and Hendricks is to practice and improve the “neglected soil” that most of us are growing in.  By adding joy, relational attachments, and a healthy group identity to our Christian communities, they will be able to correct members in a way that leads to growth in Christlike character.

There are group discussion questions at the end of each chapter, which would make this book a good choice for a small group to study together.  At the end are a number of appendices including:

  • Soil Assessment Questions (for evaluating your group or church)
  • Joy on Demand Exercises (to help reset your default emotional state)
  • Pseudo-Joy Checklist (things you may be substituting for true joy)
  • Enemy Mode Checklist (to identify how your “relational circuits” are working}
  • Maturity Stages (a list of the needs and tasks of each maturity level)

This book appealed to me because I’m very interested in brain science.  It’s definitely food for thought.  Are we putting the cart before the horse in training disciples?  Should we be working on the culture and climate of our communities at least as hard as we work at educating our members?  The answer is probably yes.  The difficulty will be in persuading Christians to change old habits and ways of pursuing spiritual growth.

VERDICT:  4 Stars.  I liked it and would enjoy reading more about this topic.

If you would like to purchase this book, follow the link below:

The Lutheran Ladies received a free copy of this book in return for a fair and honest review. Disclaimer pursuant to FTC 16 CFR part 255.


Fruitful Gifts

“Love is patient and kind;  love does not envy or boast;  it is not arrogant or rude.  It does not insist on it’s own way;  it is not irritable or resentful;   it does not rejoice at wrong doing, but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”  1 Corinthians 13:4-7

You’ve probably heard these verses many times before.  1 Corinthians is known as the “love chapter” (my Bible titles it The Way of Love) and it is often read at weddings.  However, placed in its context, Paul is speaking these words to the Christian community and it follows a description of spiritual gifts.

It is certainly good advice about how to behave towards our spouse, but it is much more than that.  These verses tell us how we should behave as part of the church.  Love is the “greatest” gift and the one that will remain when all our works have ceased. Love is not just what we do, it is who we are.  Notice that love also encompasses the fruit of the spirit:  patience, kindness, self-control, joy.

Paul goes on to tell the Corinthians at the end of chapter 13 and in chapter 14 that love is an indication of spiritual maturity.  He advises us to put away childish things (13:11) and be mature in our thinking (14: 20).

So “pursue love” (14:1) and “strive to excel in building up the church.”(14:12).  The fruit of the spirit will follow and will be a blessing to you and to others.

God loves you and so do I!