Self-Assessment

The Martin Institute Part 5 of 12

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Table of contents

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Preliminaries

According to Dallas Willard, “placing our faith in Jesus’ gospel means we are placing our confidence in the availability of heaven’s rule now.”1 And this requires developing an intimate, trust-based, friendship with the Trinity—living the moments of our life with God.

Willard suggests that there are a few preliminaries necessary for this type of relationship to be happening. We will list four below. As you read each of these ask yourself the question, “how true is this for my life?” and then mentally rate yourself on a very subjective 1 to 10 scale where a “10” means “this it totally true for me almost all the time” and a 1 means “I never have this desire”.

  1. Belief: I have heard the message of the availability of God and believe it is possible.
  2. Honest Desire: I really and deeply desire Jesus to be with me. I am head over heels in love with the Trinity and want to have God around all the time. [Note: Many people believe that Jesus is necessary but not desirable as a constant companion.]
  3. Decision: I have made the decision to have Jesus with me, and to be with him. [Note: We cannot drift into a life of constant companionship with Jesus.}
  4. Plan: I must make arrangements, a plan, a rule of life if you will, and implement a concrete plan for increasing awareness of God’s presence.

Listening to My Current Rhythm of Life

Before you put paper and pencil (actually keyboard) to the process of mapping your current rule or rhythm of live, we invite you to take the view from 40,000 feet.  We will do this in sections 1 and 2 below.

Find a quiet place to reflect on your current rhythm of life. If you can’t imagine making the time, then this exercise is for you. J Guided by the Spirit, look with loving curiosity at the ebb and flow of your daily and weekly rhythm. Let each day of a week roll before your imagination.

 

  1. Observe your current rhythm of life. God meets us where we are, so it helps to reflect upon where we are actually living, right now. To the best of your awareness, be honest as you answer the following questions.
    1. Describe your day-to-day life schedule. Perhaps a picture, excel spread sheet or flow of words will come to mind.
    2. How much time do you spend with family, work, church, hobbies, etc.?
    3. Would you consider your rhythms to be rigid, flexible or in between?
    4. What are your primary everyday patterns?
    5. What do your intentional times with God look like?

 

  1. Notice the intentionality present or not present in your current rhythm of life.
    1. Did life just happen or did you plan things?
    2. Notice what is life giving and what is life draining.
    3. Notice where the heaviness is in your daily, weekly and monthly life.
    4. Notice what is most important to you. Where is it that you feel most light hearted, most joyful?
    5. Notice the presence of noise and silence. Notice patterns.
    6. Notice habits. Notice outside influences.2

 

  1. Planning for Righteousness: A Realistic Picture of your Current Rhythms

Now let’s move on to the more objective part. It’s time to build a plan. We will keep the focus on the seven days of a week. You will find below a daily planner where you can enter your information.

 

 

Click here to download a pdf of the planner.

 

    1. Notice that the planner contains My Day at a Glance, as well as, your My Week at a Glance.
    2. My Day at a Glance roughly correspond to the “canonical hours” of monastic life. The first hour begins at 6 AM; third begins at 9 AM; sixth hour begins at noon; ninth hour begins at 3 PM; twelfth hour begins at 6 PM; And while most monks are in bed by 9 PM, we are providing you “bonus time” which is the beginning of your new day.
    3. The next step is to enter the actual activities of your life during each three hour block on the trellis. What are the things you do each day and each week with regularity (e.g., out of bed, brush teeth, breakfast, dressed for the day, commute to work, key work activities, workout three times a week, standing appointment with friend on Wednesdays, etc. etc.)?

 

Thank you for participating in this part of the class. You will use your current rule or rhythm of life when we offer suggestions from Dallas Willard concerning how to spend a day with Jesus.

Footnotes
  1. See Dallas Willard, Renewing the Christian Mind: Essays, Interviews, and Talks, (compiled and edited by Gary Black, Jr.) Harper San Francisco, 2016, 276
  2. The above sections and questions are taken from a monthly practice exercise developed by Lacy Borgo and Jean Nevills, entitled, “Listening to the Current Rhythm of My Life.”
Listen to all parts in this Developing a Rule of Life series