THE COLUMNS – DECEMBER

DISCIPLESHIP_HEADER

Self-Awareness is Key to Success
Self-awareness is essential for any leader to succeed over the long term. That is why there are so many books and workshops about one’s leadership style, personality traits, and discerning strengths and weaknesses. The same is true for successfully living out one’s faith. One must be self-aware of who they are in light of their goal for success. So what does a successful life of faith look like? As a Christian, ultimate success is fulfilling God’s vision for our lives. Most think this is impossible to discern or measure, but faithful saints have been discerning and measuring this “success” in discipleship for hundreds of years. The Examen is one such highly esteemed process for discerning and measuring one’s faithful response to God and witness of character, word, and action. Ignatius of Loyola articulated this prayer practice in the 16th century as a way of listening to our own lives while discerning the presence or absence of God therein. Try out The Ignatian Examen using the following steps:

1. Find a quiet place and quiet yourself.
2. Become aware of God’s presence and goodness.
3. Pray for grace to see clearly, to understand accurately, and to respond generously
to the guidance God gives throughout your day and as you reflect upon your day.
4. Review in memory the history of the day in order to be shown concrete instances
of the presence and guidance of God and, perhaps, the activity and influence of
evil. Pay special attention to strong emotions arising from situations
and encounters.
5. Evaluate these instances in which you have either partnered with God or yielded
to the influence of evil. Express gratitude or regret.
6. Consider how to partner with God more effectively and avoid or overcome the
influence of evil in the future. Commit to this plan.

Through consistent practice of The Examen, or similar prayerful daily evaluation such as Wesley’s “Holy Club Questions,” you will grow in your self-awareness, more clearly discern how to effectively partner with God as his witness, increase the instances and magnitude of these partnerships and decrease the instances and extent of yielding to evil. Success!

Discipleship Challenge
God created each of us to impact the world for His Glory. We have this kind of lasting significance only by growing in our relationship with Christ and increasing his impact on lives. Each month this page offers challenges aimed at doing just that. Join your church family in reading, memorizing, and living out the Word of God that together we might grow as disciples of Jesus Christ.

MEMORIZE: Isaiah 9:6 – For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

READ: An Advent devotional each day this month. You can pick one up around campus or subscribe to the 1Discipleship Blog at http://firstdiscipleship.org/blog/ to receive a daily devotional email. Set aside time each day to read and reflect on God’s Word this month. Share your reflections on social media using #sharethelove and #1Discipleship.

ACTION:
1. Spend time in prayer each evening reflecting on how your thoughts and actions represented Christ to others. The Ignatian Examen and Wesley’s “Holy Club Questions” are recommended resources for this.
2. Take the fourth discipleship survey at members.firstdiscipleship.org and pray about how you will grow this month as a witness for Jesus.

LEAD:
1. Invite 7 people to worship this month.
2. Share with someone what Jesus’ birth means to you and how you have experienced him as Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father or Prince of Peace.

RIGHTNOW Media Highlight
RIDICULOUS by Mike Baker – In Jesus we see the real life example of what God’s love looks like. Six magnificent Bible passages give shape to this special study focused on the ridiculous love of God: 1 John 4:19; 1 John 4:7; John 13:35; Matthew 5:44; 1 John 2:15; John 15:13. The challenge is to learn how to live like Christ in a loved-starved world. It is not only ridiculous, it
is possible.