Tag Archives: dipstick

In search of the real Me!

23 Jun

Remember Jesus’ parable of the man who sold all to buy the field that had the treasure hidden in it? (Matt 13:44)  This parable can be interpreted in several different ways.  

We’re all quite aware that the primary truth in this passage is that Jesus is the treasure, and we must sell all to obtain the Treasure. 

A secondary truth is that we are Jesus’ treasure, and He gave His life to buy you and me back to Himself.  Lock these truths in, because we have no intention of diminishing their transforming power as we move ahead into a slightly different application of this parable.

Now try this third perspective: You are the field, and hidden inside of you is the God-placed and God-designed treasure of great price.  You must sell all so that you can ‘buy’ the field (diligently seek to understand our unique identity) in order to possess and develop the buried treasure (the uniquely made and God-designed you) which is of great price.

If you’re on a quest to discover the treasure called you, there are many great resources ‘out there’: personality tests, seminars, books, personal life coaches, etc.  I’ve tried many of them… and each has its strength.

But I’ve discovered two questions that are very simple yet powerful and could start you on your ‘trip’ into finding the basic motivational giftings that make up the real core you.  Start out with the basic question, then each time you answer, you ask the follow-up question of “Why?”

Two key questions

1. What made you feel most alive in your life?
This can be anything, (spiritual/secular, when you were a kid or last week).  But it will be the event or activity in your life that you measure everything by (e.g., “What I just did wasn’t quite as good as that”, etc)  It was the thing that kept you awake with excitement before or after it happened.  These are highpoints in your life.  Did you find at least one answer?
     The follow-up question is: “Why is that important?”
          Your answer might be: “Because I was with people”… or “because I was by myself.” or….
     The follow-up: “Why is that important?”
          Your answer might be: because I got to plan, care, entertain, instruct, fix, make someone’s life better, or….

     The follow-up: “Why is that important?”

Each answer is followed up with “Why?” until you ‘drill down’ to your core values and motivations.

2. What consistently makes you have tears?
This can be anything: a song, theme, verse, experience, daydream, art, beauty, nature, etc.  What makes you have tears most consistently.
          Your answer might be: when wrongs are made right, when right get vindicated, when genuine love wins, etc.

     The follow-up question is: “Why is that important?”
          Your answer might be: “Because of that one line, that one theme, the symmetry, the eloquence or elegance, the fluidity, the beauty, the bottom-line truth, the partnership, the compassion, the love…”, etc.
     The follow-up: “Why is that important?”
          Your answer might be: “Because of how it unlocks my heart, because it gives me a new start, because it affirms my major life values and convictions, or because mercy & forgiveness shines through, etc”
     The follow-up: “Why is that important?”
          Your answer might be: “Because this dynamic met me at a crucial time of my life… and I find myself gravitating to that theme often now as I share with others.

Each answer is followed up with “Why?” until you ‘drill down’ to your core values and motivations.

The point here is to do some soul searching to find the basic motivational gifts that are innately at work in us.  Finding and operating in these giftings/strengths is where we will find the greatest empowerment and effectiveness… with the least amount of ‘drain’ on our internal reserves.  In fact, Jesus said,

“My food is to do the will of Him who sent me.” – John 4:34

So, finding the treasure called ‘you’, will empower you to ‘stay in your lane’… you won’t be so prone to follow the money, or need, or open door, or popular opinion, etc.  You’ll know who you are, which will help identify tracks for you to run on and give you wisdom for making better decisions.

You see if we make decisions in accordance with our uniqueness, then all the grace of Heaven is available to support us.  Consider this verse:

“The eyes of the Lord look to and fro across the earth to show Himself strong to the one whose heart is completely His.” – II Chron 16:9

You see, if we’re in the center of His will then His strength is made available to us.  Conversely, if we’re out of sync with His design and desire for us, we may only get the general grace that “falls on the just and unjust alike”.  Unfortunately, this lack of grace can easily lead to burnout, because our objectives will likely have to be attained by our own strength when we’re in this mode.

You may find this little graph helpful.  You’ll have to stand back a little from your life… then from that perspective try to use as much objectivity as possible in evaluating how your heart is doing.  Don’t use a single day… or even a single week to reference your heart… rather, try to think in terms of months.

The questions to ask: How was my heart 6 months ago?  How is my heart now?  How will my heart be 6 months from now? 

Were you able to honestly assess the trend of your heart in the last six months?  What will your heart look like if you extrapolate that same trend out to six months in the future?  Are you okay with that?  Do you need to change something now so that you don’t end up in the ‘danger zone’?

If you’re not sure how to assess the status of your heart, use this little ‘dipstick’ to check the ‘oil’ of your heart.

These matters are of utmost importance because if we don’t come to grips with these principles then we run the high potential of exhausting ourselves… and if we discover the gold in these principles we will find ourselves empowered to ‘walk upon our high places’ and ‘leap and skip upon the mountains’.

For more on this subject consider this short and very simple study with ‘tests’, authored by my father-in-law, Bob Beckett – What is Your Motivational Gift.

For more related to this subject:
Your Inheritance Includes Supernatural Provision
Living Within God’s Grace

— MLH

How’s Your Heart? … Try This Spiritual ‘Dipstick’

6 Jul

Have you met really good Christians who are bored, frustrated or listless in life?  Sure we have… we might even be one of those persons.  This condition is more prevalent than we’d like to acknowledge.  Ambiguity in life gnaws at our vitality to face life.  So why and how does this happen?  I believe that much of the time it is because there is little understanding of how to truly feed and exercise our hearts.  This requires that we know our unique giftedness and the unique will of God for our lives.

Must know the will of God for our lives!

A poll in a large Christian conference asked how many knew what the unique will of God was for their lives.  About 10% raised their hands.  Those 10% were then asked how many were currently walking in the will of God for their lives.  About 5% of that group raised their hands.  What a sad commentary!!  No wonder the frustration or boredom in life.

Carpe Diem – Seize the day

Even though we may be confused, ambivalent or lethargic, life’s circumstances and pressures are not.  They just keep coming.  Living life well requires consistent attention.  We must be PROACTIVE instead of reactive or complacent; which means that we must plan and mobilize OR we will have to scramble to play ‘catch-up’ later.  This is part of becoming a maturing believer.  As we mature we must be able to make tough choices for ourselves based upon personal revelation and our unique DNA; which means that we become less influenced by others’ mandates and the fear of man.  Life must be apprehended (Phil 3:12).

Two crucial ingredients for healthy growth:

Let’s focus on two inviolable requirements of every living thing; whether plant, animal or human.

1. Intake/nutrition that matches our unique DNA:   Just as a body builder needs a high protein diet to build muscle, so it is in the spiritual.  We must find feeding spots for our heart and spirit.  What makes your heart come alive?   It may come through solitude, worship, reading the word, meditation, prayer, fellowship, listening to teachers, mentors, waiting, nature, etc……  Whatever the case, it’s imperative that we find our own personal ‘on-ramps’ into God and visit them frequently.

Nutrition without output leads to obesity and sluggardliness.  It’s like eating too many high calorie snacks and becoming a ‘couch potato’.  Often this results in poor attitude about life and one’s self.

2. Output/engaging challenge that matches our unique DNA:   Just as a body builder needs to press against specific resistance to build certain muscles, so it is in the spiritual.  Each of us has a unique spiritual ‘DNA’ that needs a uniquely personal opportunity of challenge and resistance.  This challenge should probably be something where if we don’t ‘deliver’ in that area of challenge, then that area will fail.  This ‘the buck stops with me’ principle helps to make us dig deep and thus stay ‘sharp’ and alive in God.  We grow and mature, accordingly.

Output without nutrition leads to exhaustion and a weak immune system.  We become vulnerable to sickness, disease, discouragement, etc.

Just as it is in the physical body, so it is in our spirit man.  We can either be too full, not exercised and sluggish  OR  it can be over-worked, too depleted, anemic and vulnerable to sin and the world.

So how am I doing?

Would you like to be able to know how your heart is really doing… what condition is it in?  It’s unlikely that others can really tell us how we’re doing… and it’s quite possible that we may not able to correctly and honestly asses our own condition.  So how can we measure our own hearts?  We need an unbiased ‘dipstick’.

Hopefully we regularly check the oil dipstick in our auto engine.  If we don’t we’re flirting with a possible major malfunction of our engine.  That dipstick is designed to give a reading on the internal condition of the oil in our engine.  Assessing the dipstick helps us know the appropriate actions necessary to ensure a long engine life.  So in like manner, I’ve put together a ‘dipstick’ that serves to tell us our heart’s status.  Use it regularly and similarly to the auto engine dipstick to ensure a healthy heart and happy life.  If this is meaningful to you, you may want to make a copy of this spiritual health ‘dipstick’ and put it in your Bible or in a handy place for future reference.

A spiritual health ‘dip stick’

The top is ‘healthy’ and degrades toward ‘unhealthy’ at the bottom:

Status            Confession                        Description

Alive……….”This is the best!”………Fully engaged with the unique
…………………………………………………purposes of God active in our lives

Busy………..“Life is OK”……………….Lots of scurrying around ‘doing the
…………………………………………………stuff’… but no ‘edge’

Active………“This feels like work”…Busy but without a sense of the
………………………………………,…………presence of God in it

Bored………..We ask “why”…………..No vibrancy any more – hard to
………………………………………………….drive oneself ahead

Frustrated…“How long”……………..Mind gets filled with oppressive
………………………………………………….thoughts of discouragement

Irritable……“You did it”……………..We begin to find fault and point at
………………………………………………….others as a cause for our discomfort

Angry………“Don’t get in my way”..We’re hard to live with – anger is our
………………………………………………….involuntary weapon of choice

Divisive……“I’m out of here!”………We become easy prey for the devil to
………………………………………………….separate us e.g. church splits,
………………………………………………….relational schisms, divorce, etc

Did you find yourself?

When I evaluate the consistent confessions and symptoms in my life and compare them to this ‘dip stick’, it gives probable evidence of the status of my heart.  Although there may be other reasons, generally speaking, the issue boils down to whether or not we are getting the right kind of ‘intake’ AND ‘output’.  Is one or the other or both, deficient?  As ‘intake’ and ‘output’ are fully engaged, we will have greater potential for our hearts to feel Heaven’s favor in our lives.  When this is functioning properly, it makes us less vulnerable to temptations and pitfalls… and empowered to conquer.  You see, this was our Father’s plan from the start; His favor in and His power out.

Proverbs 4:7 says, “In all your getting get understanding” – may I say, in all your getting, get fed, get ‘hot’ and get going.

— MLH

Audio of Mark speaking on this topic: How’s Your Heart?

For more on boredom click here: Declare war on boredom!