A member of one Sunday school class I taught asked me to lunch. He started the conversation by saying, “I have a CPA to keep me liquid, a lawyer to keep me legal, and a doctor to keep me healthy. But I have no one to help assess my spiritual condition. Can you give me a ‘spiritual audit’?”
I had never thought about such a thing. In the next two or three years, I accumulated several questions I regularly ask myself. Here are a few of them: Am I content with who I am becoming? Our son, Fred Jr., asked me about the important people in my life. After hearing each story, he unerringly asked, “Did he finish well?” Some did, some didn’t, and a few were disasters.
We must be sure our profession does not consume our person. It’s important that we be more than we do or have. Too often I have seen leaders leave their title and power and have nothing to fill the vacuum. They are shells, like the large beetles you find on pine trees in east Texas that look complete but their insides are gone. They are as hollow as a drum.
Also, as we grow older, we must move from power to wisdom. Those who try to hold power too long are resented. Even parents who try to hold power over their children lose the love of their children. However, when we are able to give up power at the right time and become a wisdom figure, then we are useful, honored, and kept in the mainstream.
Of course, in power, we hold the offensive, while in wisdom we are the consultant–those who want our help come to us; we don’t go to them. So I ask myself: Am I moving from power and becoming a person of wisdom?
Do I have a flow-through philosophy? Scripture says, “He that believeth in me, out of his innermost parts will flow rivers of living water.” The freshness is in the flow. The mountain stream is fresh; the Everglades are stagnant. Some of us want to be a lake, not a river. We want to accumulate before we let too much flow through. However, as a Christian, I am to let the blessings flow through me.
At a weekend retreat outside Fresno, I spent three days with a couple hundred laymen. To my surprise, they had not invited another speaker, so I had to hold forth from Friday noon until Sunday noon. (I accused them of running a cheap program with only one speaker who came free.) Late Sunday afternoon, I was flying back to Dallas when I realized, “I am totally relaxed.” This didn’t make sense. After that much effort, I should have been either high as a kite or lower than a snake’s belt buckle.
It suddenly occurred to me: As I shared Christian leadership principles with these men, there had been a real presence of the Holy Spirit in the sessions. I had been the pipe, not the pump. The pipe never gets tired. God had been the pump. How tired I would have been had I tried to be both the pump and the pipe.
Oswald Chambers warns that when we dam the blessings in our life, we become stagnant, cynical, mean-spirited. We must break the dam and let blessings flow like a river, for the freshness is in the flow. Is obedience in small matters built into my reflexes? Obedience largely determines my relation with Christ following new birth. He says I am his friend if I obey him, therefore I must check my obedience. My good intentions count for little. I can obey God out of fear or from love. Both he and I prefer love.
Also, how do I handle disobediences? Do I give excuses or confessions? Or do I foolishly either carry guilt or try to punish myself for what God alone can forgive–and will?
Do I have joy? Joy is promised to me. Do I have it? If my relationship with Christ is right, I do. To me, joy is perfected in the full belief in the total sovereignty of God. Doubt dilutes joy.
For five years I left my usual fellowship and attended a church that gave me one great blessing–a firm belief in the sovereignty of God. I now totally believe that God doesn’t need me, he loves me; and I don’t work for him to earn his love, I work for him as a result of his love. He lets me work in order to mature me. That brings joy.
Does my family recognize the authenticity of my spirituality? They see me whole. I would like to believe–and must believe– that if I am growing spiritually, my family will recognize it. I was privileged to attend a gathering of Christian leaders once, as a friend of the pastor who organized it. During lunch, Stephen Olford said, “My brothers, I am weary of celebrity religion. I have had my share of honors, but when I die, unless my family can say, ‘There is something of God in the man,’ then I will have failed.” There came that holy hush of self-examination for each of us.
The content of this article comes from “The Warrior’s Bible” (2014) and is copyrighted by Life Publishers International. Used with permission.