In our distracted world the pursuit of Christian piety (beyond reading one’s Bible, praying, and attending church) tends to be a rather ill defined and haphazard affair. What is offered below is a tool for self-analysis in this regard. A word of explanation is called for.
I have found it helpful in recent years to think of Christian piety in terms of maturing as prophets, priests, and kings to the Lord our God. I will not defend that model here, but what I mean is this: God made man to function as a prophet in the world; this means (at least) that we are to be listeners, learners, knowers, and communicators. God also made man to function as a priest; this means we are to be worshippers, managers, preservers, and protectors. God also made man to function as a king; this means we are to be planners, builders, cultivators, and rulers. These three offices are very active; one does not mature in them by drifting along, letting life happen to oneself. Conscious effort and constant self-evaluation are necessary. One must be intentional about one’s growth and progress. I have suggested, then, some questions to help us know how we are doing: these may not be very well crafted, and certainly others could be proposed, but I hope they may at least point in the right direction.
Questions to aid maturing as a “prophet”:
1. What am I currently trying to learn?
2. How am I currently pursuing knowledge of God? Is my love for God growing with my knowledge? To what extent am I still ignorant about God?
3. How am I currently pursuing knowledge of other people? Is my love for them growing with my knowledge? To what extent am I still ignorant about my fellow humans?
4. How am I currently pursuing knowledge of creation? Is my love for creation (and the Creator) growing with my knowledge? To what extent am I still ignorant about the created order?
5. What have I read in the last year? What am I reading now? What is the quality of the books I read?
6. Am I currently communicating truth and affirming goodness in my speech? Am I currently communicating falsehood and affirming evil in my speech? Is my speech always “seasoned with grace”? In what ways is my speech “rotten”?
Questions to aid maturing as a “priest”:
1. What space (or place) has the Lord entrusted to me? Over what has He given me jurisdiction?
2. What is the general state of affairs in this jurisdiction? Is it well ordered? Is it pure? Is it beautiful?
3. Am I setting apart times for worship, especially those God has appointed? Does my life revolve around such times of worship? How are these times of worship influencing the rest of my life?
4. What habits am I consciously cultivating? What disciplines am I cultivating? What are the routines of my daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly life? What rituals do I (and my household) regularly observe?
5. What work has God given me to do? How am I seeking His pleasure in my work? How am I enjoying His goodness in it? How am I exhibiting in my work His beauty, goodness, grace, truth, and righteousness?
6. In what ways is my life infected with lawlessness, darkness, lies, rebellion, unbelief, and idolatry? In what ways am I currently defiling my body, my soul, or the “space” God has entrusted to me?
Questions to aid maturing as a “king”:
1. What is the “kingdom” for the coming of which our Lord taught us to pray? How am I actively contributing to the expansion of this kingdom in the world?
2. Who are my superiors, my equals, and my inferiors? How am I honoring each of these in their station? Am I currently discipling anyone?
3. How am I currently cultivating manners that befit a member of God’s royal household?
4. How am I currently cultivating fruitfulness of soul (mind, affections, motives, choices)? How am I currently cultivating fruitfulness in bodily deeds (charity, hospitality, witness, homebuilding, education, skill, creativity and innovation, etc.)? Am I simply maintaining the status quo in my life?
5. How am I currently interacting with the “stuff” of creation? How am I cultivating this “stuff” for the joy of God and to exhibit His excellence, wisdom, goodness, and beauty?
6. How am I currently wasting time? Am I working too much? Too little? Why do I work?
7. Am I currently building anything? What am I aiming to accomplish, achieve, or obtain through my work? What are my goals and objectives for the next month, the next year, the next five years, and before I die?
8. Is the atmosphere of my life one of peace? Of joy? Of gratitude and contentment? How am I enjoying my God, my family, my friends, and God’s creation? How am I paying attention to the goodness of the Lord?