Snapshot of a Growing Christian

by Aug 14, 2023Holiness

There are some simple joys this generation will never know, like picking up a roll of developed film at the drugstore photo counter. Remember the thrill of flipping through that stack of pictures to discover a vacation memory frozen in time? There were the inevitable blurry, red-eyed pictures and less-than-flattering candids, but it was all worth it to find a snapshot that reflected you.

Our Mature Disciple preaching series and Spiritual Health Snapshot are designed to offer that kind of reflection. The seven characteristics of a mature disciple give us direction and a target, helping us to answer the question, “What is a mature disciple?” The Spiritual Health Snapshot allows us to internalize that question as we ask, “How am I growing and maturing as a Christian?”

Why the Snapshot?

The Spiritual Health Snapshot is an assessment that gives five simple statements for each of the seven characteristics, prompting you to identify how often that statement describes you. The statements on the assessment dig beneath what you do to why you do it—the underlying beliefs, desires, and motivations. In other words, the assessment helps you take a snapshot of your heart.

Like the Kodaks of yesteryear, this snapshot presents a clear, but limited image. Our self-evaluation will always be imperfect because, as Jeremiah 17:9-10 tells us,

“The heart is deceitful above all things
and desperately sick;
who can understand it?
I the Lord search the heart 
and test the mind
to give every man according to his ways,
according to the fruit of his deeds.”

Only the Lord can fully know our hearts, but this shouldn’t keep us from examining ourselves. Instead, we do so in prayerful dependence on the Spirit. We pray with David, “Search me, O God, and know my heart!” (Ps. 139:23)

As you prepare to take the spiritual assessment, start with a simple prayer like David’s. 

  • Pray that the Lord uses the assessment to show signs of maturity and places where growth is needed. 
  • Pray for humility and honesty. 
  • Pray that the Spirit guards your heart from both shame and pride. 
  • Pray that God leads your heart to rejoice in how completely he knows and loves you, and the work he’s doing to make you look more like his Son.

Taking the Snapshot

As you take the spiritual assessment, resist the urge to overthink the statement or your answers. To continue our photography illustration, don’t spend too much time focusing on the composition or the framing. Simply look through the lens and snap the picture. Answer the questions quickly—if you find yourself lingering on a question, you may need to write the response that was your first instinct.

After you’ve answered all 35 questions, use the key to score your responses for each of the seven characteristics. “Score” is such a loaded word, so at this point, you may want to return to the prayers that you prayed at the beginning. As you evaluate your growth and maturity, remember that this assessment isn’t a weapon to be used against yourself or others. It’s simply a snapshot intended to help you along the pathway to growing in Christlikeness.

Sharing the Snapshot

Remember standing at the Walgreens counter, opening the envelope, and thumbing through your snapshots? The first time you looked at those photos, it was a quick glance. But then you likely sat down with friends and family, passing the photos around (by the edges…no fingerprints!) The snapshots opened the door for conversation, storytelling, laughter, and perhaps tears.

The spiritual health snapshot is the same—it’s most effective in community! The goal of the snapshot isn’t simply to show you where you are, but to spur you on to maturity. Its aim, as it reveals areas in which growth is needed, is to give you tangible ways to pursue that growth. We pray that you would begin to establish habits and disciplines, which are best cultivated in community.

As you look at the snapshot, then, share it with others. Share it with your community group. If you’re married, share it with your spouse. Share it with your roommate or close friends. Share it with your parents or even your kids. Ask for their perspective. How does the snapshot align with what they see in you? Where do they see evidence that God is at work? 

Your community can help you to guard against blind spots. As they look at your snapshot, they can help you to identify strengths and weaknesses that you may have missed. Often it’s the person who’s not in the photograph who is able to call out the detail others overlooked—the same is true in our spiritual life. We need others to help us see ourselves accurately.

Don’t share just your snapshot—share your next steps, too. If your next step is to begin a Bible reading plan, invite a friend to follow the same plan. If you’re beginning to pray for unsaved friends and loved ones, pray with your family around the dinner table. If your entire community group wants to grow in evangelism, maybe the next step is for your group to join a GO Team together.

Returning to the Snapshot

Another joy that’s been lost to the digital age is flipping through scrapbooks and photo albums. But perhaps the “memories” that pop up on your phone are a helpful substitute. They prompt you to look back and remember.

Scripture calls us to do the same. Several years ago, as I read through the Bible I underlined in blue every reference to remembering, and from Genesis to Revelation, that Bible is full of blue underlines. We’re called to be people who remember the Lord’s character and his work

One of our prayers for this snapshot is that it would be a tool for remembering and rejoicing. We hope that, like the memories that pop up annually on your phone, you’ll return to this snapshot often. We want to see community groups coming back to this practice every fall, looking at last year’s snapshot as we take a new one. Can you imagine the stories that will be told in a year? Stories of redemption, as together we look back and say to one another, “You’re not who you were!” Stories of hope, as we stir up one another to continued good works. Stories of celebration, as we rejoice in the work that God has done in us, transforming each of us to look more like Christ.

We’re praying for you as you take this snapshot and consider your next steps. We’re praying for endurance and perseverance and discipline as you begin to take those steps. We’re here to help if you have questions or need guidance. We want to help you take steps toward maturity in Christ, through the gospel, in community, and on mission.

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