The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.
– Proverbs 20:5
Throughout the Hill Country area of Texas, close to where I live, many homes are on well water. The average depth of wells in this area is 600 feet and can be as deep as 1,200 feet. With much of the water trapped beneath granite and limestone, the process of drilling a well can be both time consuming and costly. Yet, it is worth the time and expense as the water these wells provide is not only refreshing, it is truly life giving.
As Proverbs 20:5 points out, our purposes, motives, and feelings are like water buried deep within the earth and the wise person will draw them out in order to understand, evaluate, and ultimately surrender them to God’s Word and will. Like drilling a well, the process of self-evaluation takes time and can be costly as we surrender our will to King Jesus; yet, it is refreshing and life giving. The following is a rhythm I use for building self-evaluation into my life.
Daily: As a part of my time with the Lord.
I typically begin my quiet time by praying through Psalm 139:23-24, pausing and praying through each phrase, using questions to allow the Holy Spirit to reveal what is in the depths of my heart and mind before spending time in God’s Word.
Search me, God, and know my heart;
What is in my heart? What am I feeling? What am I believing?
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
What am I concerned about? What is burdening me? What is causing me to be anxious?
See if there is any idolatrous way in me;
Often my anxieties reveal an idol. Have I placed anything above or equal to God in my life?
lead me in the everlasting way.
This leads right into opening and reading God’s Word while asking; what are the truths from His Word that I need to learn, be reminded of, and apply to my life?
Weekly: As part of Communion.
In 1 Corinthians 11, Paul gives instructions on how to observe Communion. In verses 28 and 29, we are told to “examine” ourselves prior to taking Communion so that we do not partake “without recognizing the body.” The body spoken of here is the church. The instruction is for us to consider our relationships with others prior to participating in Communion. As a part of Communion I ask, “Is there anyone I need to seek forgiveness from or extend forgiveness to?” Then, I respond accordingly. Sometimes, this may mean abstaining.
Monthly: Review of my quiet time journal.
Once a month I review my devotional journal and look for words, phrases, or themes are repeated. I then pray through what God might be saying to me about those. When there are sin and struggles that are frequently mentioned I spend time in confession and repentance, then develop a repentance plan. When there are victories, I thank God and celebrate His working in and changing me.
Annually: A letter from Jesus.
I recently preached through Revelation 2 & 3, Jesus’ letters to the seven churches. These letters mostly follow a similar structure that include a commendation, a rebuke, an exhortation, and rewards for faithful obedience and endurance. As a part of that message, the elders asked our church to spend a week in prayer and fasting, asking the question, “If Jesus were to write you a letter, what would it say?” Over the next week, we all took time to consider and respond; Where would He commend me? Celebrate. Where would He rebuke me? Repent. How would He exhort me? Respond. This was such a challenging yet meaningful experience that I intend to make it part of my annual rhythm.
The process of self-evaluation requires intentionality and teachability. Just as we consider where those we are discipling are spiritually and their next steps, disciple-makers should be intentional about evaluating themselves and remain teachable by allowing a trusted friend into this process in order to hold up the mirror to show us our blind spots and hold us accountable. There is a constant battle to keep times of self-evaluation from becoming times of ministry evaluation. I pray you can avoid this temptation and not miss the blessing of self-evaluation by drawing out what is inside of you and humbly surrendering it to King Jesus as you follow Him, are changed by Him, and join in His mission.
Charlie Turner – Lead Pastor
River Rock Bible Church