“Feed your flesh… starve your soul.”

That’s the prevailing message of our day. All the money and pleasure and comfort and security and Netflix and technology in the world can’t ultimately satisfy a person’s soul.

Here are 10 sure signs that the *check engine* light is blinking in my soul . . .

1. I get defensive. Instead of listening intently, I jump to conclusions and try to safeguard my reputation. Eugene Peterson said, “The kingdom of self is heavily guarded territory.” When someone thwarts my agenda or crosses my will, I am often tempted to defend.

2. I assume the worst. I size you up, look for the bad, and write you off. I’m pretty sure Jesus doesn’t approve of this. Cynicism is a malady of the soul that arises from our brokenness. It’s toxic.

3. I compare myself. I assess my worth according to someone else’s story (or at least what I know about their story). I start envying, coveting, and comparing. Social media often fuels this. We pastors struggle with this more than we let on.

4. I blame others. Instead of owning my mistakes, I point my finger elsewhere. Rather than repent, I dig my heels in. Like my spiritual parents, Adam and Eve, I Blame, Accuse, and Deny. Nothing the acronym there?

5. I seek distractions. Reality is our friend, but every now and then, I’ll run away from it. But the funny thing is this — avoiding pain in the short term actually accelerates pain in the long run. We’re funny people, aren’t we.

6. I worship idols. I almost said, “I drink from empty wells” or “I eat food that doesn’t nourish” just to avoid saying IDOLS. The Golden Calves of our time: money, career advancement, social media, pornography, making a name for yourself, substances (alcohol, drugs, etc), gambling, shopping, eating, etc. Even religion can become an idol.

7. I feel superior. I believe the horrible lie that because I don’t sin or struggle the way someone else does that I’m somehow better. That’s just nasty. It’s shameful and embarrassing. But it’s part and parcel of the sinful nature.

8. I’m hypocritical. I hold other people to standards and expectations that I’m not willing to live by myself. Jesus railed against this. He extended mercy and grace to prostitutes, tax collectors, and other religious outcasts. But he blow-torched the religious elites (of which I am most definitely a part).

9. I make fear-based decisions. I take control of my life and start trying to make things happen because I don’t trust in the goodness or power of God. Plain and simple. When I live in the land of fear, my dreams are small, I quit praying, and I assume that it’s all on me. This is spiritual slavery.

10. I react with anger. Dallas Willard once said, “Anything you can do with anger, you can do better with out it.” I think he’s right. “But Jesus got angry, right? He cleansed the temple and turned over the tables,” you might say. Yes, you’re right. But you’re not Jesus and neither am I. I can’t manage anger. It manages me… unless I surrender it to Jesus.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23

Suggested Reading

The Disciple Maker’s Handbook

by Dr. Bobby Harrington and Josh Patrick

Many people believe that discipleship is important, but they need help. In fact, the vast majority of Christians report that they have never been personally discipled by a more mature follower of Jesus. Is it any wonder that they have a difficult time knowing how to disciple others?

If making disciples of Jesus is the greatest cause on earth, how should we equip people to do it? This handbook is a practical guide for how to embrace the discipleship lifestyle – being a disciple of Jesus and how to make other disciples of Jesus. With contributions from pastors and teachers like Francis Chan, Jeff Vanderstelt, Bill Hull, Jim Putman, KP Yohannan, and Robert Coleman, the authors present seven elements that are necessary for disciple making to occur:

  • Jesus—the original disciple maker and centerpiece of discipleship.
  • Holy Spirit—fuels the disciple-making process.
  • Intentionality—making disciples utilizing a strategy and a roadmap.
  • Relationships—creating a loving, genuine connection with others who trust and follow Jesus.
  • Bible—using the Word of God as the manual for making disciples.
  • Journey—forging a traceable growth story from a new birth to spiritual parenthood.
  • Multiply—reproducing the discipleship process so that the disciple becomes a disciple maker.

Whether you are a parent who wants to disciple your children, a small group leader who wants to disciple those in your group, or a church leader who wants to disciple future leaders, the seven key elements in this handbook form a framework for understanding discipleship that can be applied in countless situations. In addition, there are questions provided in each section to help you think through how to apply the material to your disciple making efforts. BUY NOWother books