Life is fueled by purpose. We are energized when we doing things of great value. Jesus found energy when He was doing what the Father had sent Him to do.
But honestly there are things that hold us back from experiencing the Extraordinary Life that Jesus came to give us. Fear dampens our life experiences and often derails them. Fear is the opposite of faith. Fear says, “That’s impossible.” Faith says, “God can do the impossible!”
In earlier installments of Live on Purpose. We have looked at four habits in Jesus’ life that helped keep Him focused on His purpose:
- Habit #1 – Showing Compassion
- Habit #2 – Eating Together
- Habit #3 – Interacting with God’s Word
- Habit #4 – Listening to God
In this post, I want to examine the 5th Habit – Evaluation. Evaluation is a specific form of Listening to God. But the word evaluation conjures up fear for many. In the world, tests, exams, performance reviews can be scary things. I get it! These experiences are uncertain, bringing the threat of unveiling our inadequacies. We fear failure and rejection. They are outside of our control and bring the potential for being hurt. After all we are being judged and a bad outcome could bring changes to our future.
God does not want us to live in fear. The Bible actually says, “Perfect love casts out all fear!” (1 John 4:18). God wants us to experience the Extraordinary Life. The path to it runs through evaluation.
Jesus evaluated or debriefed life experiences with His disciples. In Luke 10:17-20, Jesus had sent seventy-two of His disciples out to preach the good news. Upon their return, they were excited to share what happened to them. The demons submitted to them in Jesus’ name.
Jesus affirmed them and their work, but wanted to make sure they didn’t miss the real point of what happened and He said, “Do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” His point: Our identity in Christ matters most.”
The Extraordinary Life comes from evaluation and the course corrections that derive from it.
But I want to focus on His habit of evaluation. The Extraordinary Life comes from evaluation and the course corrections that derive from it. Jesus has no desire to judge us. He wants us to learn and improve. Most believers and churches, miss out on more of what God has for them because they refuse to evaluate their lives, relationships and ministries.
The Bible word for evaluation is repentance. Repent means to change the way we think about something and that leads to a change in behavior. It is not enough to just evaluate. We have to make the appropriate course corrections as well.
Let me share three phases of evaluation:
- Reflection – This is where we look back at our experiences and teachable moments and consider whether we joined God in His work, ignored it or worse thwarted His efforts.
- Decision – After prayerfully considering our choices and behavior, we think through what could have been with a prejudice towards finding the best choices. Then we plan how to implement those changes.
- Action – Just thinking about things isn’t enough, we have to make the course corrections that will allow us to align ourselves more closely with Jesus and His Kingdom work.
This past week my evaluation brought my attention to a phone call I had with a sales person. I had listened to the sales pitch several weeks ago and had asked that my number be removed from the list. After giving ample time for my number to be removed from their cue, I had received several calls within just a couple of days. So, I took the call and in a not so polite tone, explained that I had already reviewed my status with someone else and asked them to remove my number. To which the person on the phone said, “Oh, this is a church, figured!” and hung up.
Not only had I not been a great ambassador for Jesus. I had probably thwarted any work He and someone else might be doing in that sales person’s life. My action is to have more patience on the phone with sales people or not answer the phone when they call.
Accountability is the key to making the course corrections a reality in our lives. Here are two ways to make us more accountable:
- Write your plan down. I probably don’t need to quote the stats on how much more likely we are to reach a goal when it is in writing. If we are serious about it, we need to write it down.
- Share your plan with others. We have a core value at our church plant we call Accountable Grace. We don’t make religious rules, they are for controlling others. But Accountable Grace allows us to hold one another accountable for what God has called us to do. In an atmosphere of grace, we ask one another how we are doing with the issue we have identified and shared we believe God wants to work on in our life.
Finally, you can practice the habit of evaluation alone with God. But you may choose to do it with others. We typically call it debriefing when you do it with your spouse, a same gender accountability partner(s), or a small group.
Life is fueled by purpose. Jesus modeled these 5 Habits to keep us focused. We experience the Extraordinary life when we allow these habits to transform our lives!
Author’s note: I have been teaching LIFE HABITS for almost ten years. My habits have been refined over the years. If you have been helped by this series of posts, let me point you to a great book by Mike Frost: Surprise the World (2015). This work has greatly influenced me. In his book, Frost introduces The Five Habits of Highly Missional People with the acrostic BELLS (Bless; Eat; Listen; Learn; Sent). My 5 Habits are more than similar to Frost’s. But then they were developed by studying the same life – Jesus!
If these posts have been beneficial to you, I would love to hear from you and any stories you may want to share about these Habits. You can contact me here.