A few years ago, in the days between Christmas and New Years, I came across a blog post that changed my life. The house was a mess, the chocolate had all been eaten and the weather was disappointingly grey but this article was doing the rounds on Social Media and it caught my eye.
It was written by Theologian and Seminary Professor, Don Whitney. It was entitled, ‘Ten Questions to Ask at the Start of the New Year.’
The post began with the verse from Haggai 1.5 where God’s people have neglected their relationship with God. God uses the prophet Haggai to challenge them to, ‘Consider your ways.’
Don then encouraged us, readers, to do the same as we faced a brand new year and he suggested 10 questions that could help us consider, think about, re-evaluate and recalibrate our priorities for the months ahead.
The questions were genius but very searching. I printed them out and hung them on my fridge and they really impacted me as I discovered the life-changing power of the right question at the right time.
Here are Don’s New Year’s questions.
- What is one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?
- What is the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?
- What one thing could you do to improve the quality of your family life this year?
- In which spiritual discipline do you want to progress this year and what will you do about it?
- What is the single biggest time-waster in your life and what will you do about it?
- How is the most helpful way you can strengthen your church this year?
- For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year?
- What’s the most important way you will, by God’s grace, make this year different than last year?
- What is one thing you can do to improve your prayer life this year?
- What single things that you plan to do this year will matter most in 10 years? In eternity?
I took the time to answer the questions honestly and I was faced with some challenging truths. It highlighted how often I waste my time, ignore the most important areas of my life and how utterly unfocused my spiritual life was.
So I made changes, many of which are still a part of my life. The results were transforming.
One of the ways that we can generate wisdom in our lives is to learn how to ask ourselves the right questions and then asking God for the grace to give honest answers. It is an incredibly powerful tool and it can produce the kind of truth that sets you free.
A good question cuts through nonsense, pretence and excuses.
Just think how many times Jesus used questions to provoke thought and change or to expose hypocrisy.
We can expose hypocrisy and double-mindedness in our own lives the same way, with a really good question and a truthful answer.
And as the years have passed, I have added some more questions to my repertoire.
Here are a few.
- What is the enemy’s number-one scheme in my life right now?
- What lies do I believe about God? About myself?
- Is there any area of my thinking that is habitually unBiblical?
- Do I have the wrong perspective on a difficult situation in my life?
- Why did I just overreact?
- How do my own personal weakness most impact my relationships?
- What are my blind spots and how do I usually excuse them?
These are tough questions and the answers will not be immediately forthcoming. These are questions that need to be regularly asked in God’s presence with a sincere and listening heart.
They are questions most of us never ask ourselves but they are questions that will change how we live life for the better.
Don’t be afraid.
Draw close to the God who loves you, trust in His goodness and dare to ask some questions. The answers, like everything from God, will be full of love and grace and power and life.