The Four Questions: Strategizing Vision and Dreams in 2016
One of the exercises I do every year is answer what I call “The Four Questions.” It is my life’s pursuit to be a woman who lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. In other words, I take prophetic words very seriously…but that is a topic I will cover next month! “The Four Questions” are actually a part of my own personal strategy for being intentional about moving forward and staying accountable for the revelation and empowerment God has given me.
Did you see the first Captain America movie? Captain America is a weakling. He is small, sickly and suffers opposition to his dreams for his life at every turn. One day, a man recognizes the good in him. He sees there is the heart of a lion in him and empowers him. He is changed in his ability to fulfill his mission but those in leadership above him still see him as weak and foolish, and he is forced into a caricature of himself. He walks in a false identity fulfilling a shadow mission. He is not living as his true self, using his true gifts. He is not fulfilling the purpose for which he was created and empowered. He is discouraged and mad but resigned to play the part they’ve given him. Until, that is, someone dares speak truth into his life.
“This is not what you were created for. What are you going to do about it?”
He who has ears to hear let him hear!
Let me ask you a few questions. How do you feel when you go to bed at night? Have you accomplished the things that are most important to you? Have you accomplished the things in line with who God says you are and has called you to do? What do you imagine it would feel like to know you accomplished those things for several days in a row? Where would you find yourself if you did that for a whole year?
Here are comments I hear from a lot of people:
- My life feels out of control
- I work so hard, but nothing seems to ever get done
- I am busy all the time doing so many things, but I don’t feel like I ever get to the things that are most important to me.
- You always seem to move forward. HOW DO YOU DO THAT?
Let me tell you! When I began walking in my call I had a husband, three school age children, and a full time job. Yet, I managed to walk according to the call of God on my life. Let’s get this straight right off the bat, I am NOT saying, “Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps.” None of this can be accomplished in your own strength. There are major parts to this call thing that only God can do. Yet, we do have a part to play. We do have a responsibility to shoulder. Jesus told a paralyzed man to take up his mat and walk. He had to actually DO something. He had a part to play in walking out the call from Jesus.
I am also not saying there haven’t been times in my own walk when I simply COULD NOT lift the tiniest finger to participate in what God was doing in my life. I have experienced deep discouragement, bone weariness, a health crisis, and intimidation so strong I felt immobilized for a time. Sometimes we fall down, get sick, or become exhausted. In those times we have to know that we know that we know God’s love and grace is deeper than any pit into which we may fall. Corrie Ten Boom said that.
What I am here to tell is YOU CAN DO IT! You will need to be intentional about moving forward and be accountable for it as well. Accountability has gotten a bad rap in the last few years in the Church. This is partly because somewhere along the line it became the vehicle for spanking those who failed to perform according to a rule of standard. Accountability is actually about being held to account for stewarding the gifts and call of God on our lives; it is about calling each other up to the high calling of God. When done well, accountability will actually help you MOVE FORWARD and motivate you to keep going!
There are two persons we need to be accountable to, God and ourselves. Being accountable to ourselves is about personal integrity. I am the first person to be effected negatively by continuously making and breaking commitments, especially to myself. Maintaining integrity to commitments made to myself overflows into maintaining integrity in commitments I make to others. The more I honor my commitments to myself and the revelations God has given me, the more I grow in confidence in who God has created me to be.
We make ourselves accountable to God by submitting ourselves to the inspired, God-breathed written Word (2 Tim 3:16), to the voice of God (John 10:27), and to the community of faith (Hebrews 10:24-25). We walk by the Spirit of God allowing him to reveal and align our hearts with the written word, speak truth and direction for our lives directly to our hearts, and to sharpen and shape our lives within the community of faith through relationship.
Now that we understand a bit about accountability it is time to discuss the questions. What exactly are “The Four Questions? Here they are:
- What does God desire to do IN me this year?
- What does God desire to do THROUGH me this year?
- What PRIORITIES will I need to establish in order for that to be realized?
- What BOUNDARIES will I have to establish in order for that to be realized?
Allow me to explain the question just a bit before you answer them. It is important to understand their function in order to create your own strategy of intention! Notice that each question is about what GOD wants to do. To become who he created us to be we have to yield to HIS plan, give up our control, align our will with his, and listen to what he wants to say. So, before we ask and answer the questions, let’s invite the Holy Spirit to be present, lead and speak to us in and through the process.
Go ahead. I’ll wait.
The first question is “What does God want to do in me?” God is interested in you. He is interested in your growth and development. He is interested in your relationship with yourself and your relationship with him. This first question is a question involving identity. Our true identity is formed and informed by God–in relationship with Him. Who does God say that I am? How does he see me? How is this different from how I see me?
This first question is also a question involving intimacy. The more intimacy I have with him, the more I live out of who I truly am: beloved, complete, whole (holy), powerful, worshipper in spirit and truth, empowered with all of Him within me. The more I become who God says I am, the more intimacy I have with Him.
Asking the question, “What does God want to do in me this year” allows the Spirit to reveal to me where he is targeting personal growth and development in my life in order that I may become who I am created and called to be. In other words, in this year, what does God want to work on in me? What does he want to put his finger on to change and transform? What does he want to do in our relationship?
The second question is “What does God want to do through me?” God is interested in us coming to understand the purpose and call on our lives. In Matthew 28:28 and Mark 16:15-18 we discover the GO of the gospel. The commissions in the Gospels are commissions for us all; God’s mission and vision statement for Christians. Our salvation was only the beginning point of a journey in which we become the fulfillment of God dreams and visions.
Isaiah 60 and Luke 4 tell us the Spirit of the Lord God was upon Christ who was anointed to bring good news to the poor; sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound. Christ is in us and now we are anointed to do the same. We all have a call to reach others, dispel the works of Darkness, be kingdom bringers, and complete the mission of Christ on the earth until his return. How we each do that is particular to each of us. Whether Author, Business leader, Mother, Nurse, Teacher, Evangelist, or Prophet, in this next year what does God want to do through your life for others? Where will he send you? To whom and for what is he sending you?
The third question is “What are the priorities?” In other words, what do I keep in? What do I guard? This question involves what we truly value. Priorities are the things we give our resources to whether the resource is physical, emotional, intellectual, financial, or relational. Time is also a resource. To make the most of our resources it is important to keep FIRST THINGS FIRST. We all have the same amount of time in a day, a month, or a year. How we spend our time makes all the difference. We all have significant relationships to protect and give value to. We all have just one physical body. We all have only a certain capacity for emotional and financial expenditure.
For example, I am a full time itinerant minister. I travel a LOT. It is my responsibility to maintain a fresh relationship with Jesus in order to be effective in ministry, to get enough sleep, exercise, good food and play time in order to maintain a fresh physical, emotional, and mental health, and to spend time with my family and friends in order to maintain strong relationships. When I have intimacy with Jesus, am in good health, and have strong relationships, I am not only more effective in ministry but I create the potential for longevity.
These are a few of my priorities. We all have to ask ourselves, what will I have to value above other stuff in order that my life will be fully available to God and his desire to do those things in and through me?
The final and fourth question is “What are the boundaries? This is such an important question to ask because WE CANNOT KEEP OUR PRIORITIES IF WE HAVE NO BOUNDARIES! What is the age old saying? A river without banks is a flood! It’s true. A flood is destructive and eventually disappears or becomes stagnant.
Priorities are the things we give our attention and resources to. Boundaries are the things we don’t want to give our attention and resources too. Thins like distractions, the good but not best, whatever drains my energy unnecessarily, time-wasters (like computer games and TV), crisis that is not really crisis, the enemy. Without boundaries, priorities become muddled and eventually disappear. It is as important to say NO and it is to say YES!
Now you are ready to answer the questions yourself. I encourage you to WRITE IT ALL OUT. Writing it out is the first step in being accountable to ourselves. Committing it to God is the second. Sharing it with a believing friend for their input and involvement is third.