Who we are when we are alone with God is who we really are. But the Lord is not focused on who we are, but who He wants us to be. God is shaping us into the image of His Son. So when we’re alone with God, the better question to ask is, Who does the Lord want me to be? This question is the key to set better goals for our quiet time.
What do I need to be as a Christian?
Every Christian must prioritize care of their own soul over everything else. So the first question is always what sort of person do I need to be, or better, to become to be more pleasing to the Lord? Another way of putting this is what character do I need to put off and put on? Why? Asking why helps us think about how to renew our mind, and these three questions together lead us through the three steps of repentance. If you’re struggling with what you want to put off, you might benefit from some questions to help you expose your heart.Every Christian must prioritize care of their own soul before everything else. Click To Tweet
I have character weaknesses and sin that I and others have seen in my life which I continue to strive to overcome. For example, I need to guard carefully what I say, since I often say too much or speak foolishly because of the pride in my heart (Prov 10:19), therefore I need to learn to guard my mouth and say what is useful (Prov 16:21). But to focus just on my speech alone would be difficult since what comes from my mouth is a symptom of what comes from my heart (Mark 7:21-23). Instead, I focus on growing in wisdom and humility. In other words, my goal is to be wise and humble before the Lord. Thinking about what sort of person I need to be is far more effective than focusing on what I need to do, since focusing on what I need to be is the most powerful thing I can do to bring change. This helps me to focus my time with the Lord since I’m looking specifically for what the scripture has to say about wisdom, humility and their opposites, folly (or foolishness, or the fool) and pride. As I discover these things my soul is challenged and grows.
Always the first question…
The question of what I need to be as a Christian will always precede any questions about my other roles. One reason this is so is that our relationship with the Lord will determine all other aspects of our lives, since if the Lord is not first in those relationships, we commit idolatry, and undermine His intention for us. Another reason is that the Lord is always more important than other people. Therefore, we first need to focus on our walk with the Lord, before our other roles.The question of what I need to be as a Christian will always precede any questions about my other roles Click To Tweet
What roles has God given me to fulfill? (Responsibility)
This is not simply a matter of working out our responsibilities, but the call that God has put on my life. God doesn’t call me to singleness if I’m currently married, nor does he call me to run my own business if I’m an employee (though being an employee and having a small business is not necessarily mutually exclusive). The point is that if I fill a role, that is a role that the Lord has given me as a call on my life, and that call will remain on my life until the Lord removes me from that role.
Some of the roles I fill include husband, father, employee, church member, student, teacher, etc. Each of these roles has certain requirements on my heart (mind, desires, and volition) which the Lord calls me to. From time to time I list these roles and order them according to the Lord’s priorities so that I can work out areas I need to work on more closely.
How can I please God in those roles?
Knowing what the Lord values in a husband for example helps me to understand how I need to grow in this area. Examining and meditating on passages such as Eph 5:25 reminds me that I need to be selfless as a husband since Christ was selfless for His bride. The way Christ loved the church is the model for how I am to love my wife. Of course, this passage extends this metaphor well beyond mere selflessness and paints a rich picture of the perfect husband loving His bride. That is the kind of husband I need to be. Knowing what I need to be as a Christ-exalting husband is richer, and more powerful than merely knowing what a husband does. This also balances aspects of this role that are often imbalanced, such as male authority. While Christ is the head of the church (Eph 4:15), He was not authoritative but used his headship to love selflessly. The better I understand the way the Lord describes my roles, the more I understand what I need to be to fulfill those roles in a manner pleasing to Him. Note the word understand? Knowing what I need to be is a renewing the mind activity.Knowing what I need to be is a renewing the mind activity. Click To Tweet
What specific ways can I grow in those roles?
Knowing what kind of [insert your role here] you need to be will help you see your own heart (attitudes, beliefs, and thoughts) more clearly. You can then make the heart attitudes rather than your actions the focus of your goals. Another way of putting this is that you want to grow in character in this role, not in activity. Work on just one thing at a time by answering this question: In my role as a [role] I want to be [list a character quality]. For example, In my role as a spouse, I want to be patient (or kind, or gentle, or giving, etc).
As I work on one area, I often become aware not only of growth but of need in another role or character quality. So I will switch to a new, more urgent area (role and character) as need arises. Often, however, I find that I’m working on the same character quality in different roles.
When you’re considering what goals to set for your quiet time, focus on what you need to be (or become) rather than simply what you need to do. If you focus on understanding the roles God has given you, what you need to put off and put on will become increasingly obvious and you can then prioritize these.
Who has God called you to be?