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Life Inventory

Introduction

“Life Inventory” will help you identify your personal characteristics in various categories. Thinking about the aspects of your life and then writing them on paper takes time and energy, but you’ll get out of the experience as much as you put into it.

You’ll analyze your earthly identity first. Your earthly identity involves things that both unbelievers and believers share, such as roles, gender, temperament, and heritage. Next you’ll look at your personal values as you transition into thinking about your heavenly identity. Your heavenly identity is who you are as a result of having trusted in Christ.

You’ll do the “Life Inventory” exercises on your own, outside your group meetings. Then you’ll share with your group the highlights of what you’ve learned. You don’t have to share anything you don’t want to. However, you’ll find that sharing your findings with your group will strengthen your friendships with each other.

Roles

Roles and Responsibilities

Review the sample chart that follows. Then, in the empty chart, record the roles you currently hold. These may include your role as an employee, husband or wife, father or mother, church member, citizen, participant in a sport, and so on. Adjacent to your list of roles, describe the responsibilities that you hold in that role. For example, as a citizen of the United States, you are responsible to obey the laws, participate in voting for representatives in government, and serve on a jury when called. This exercise is simply an inventory of your life regarding your roles and their corresponding responsibilities.

Roles

Responsibilities

Husband

Remain faithful to my wife, provide protection for her, provide companionship for her

Father

Protect and provide financially for my kids, train them to be responsible and loving

School Teacher

Clearly teach my subject, maintain an orderly classroom, motivate students by personal interaction and respect, give assignments, prepare exercises, grade homework, fill out paperwork, meet with parents

Little League Coach

Prepare drills for practice, attend practices, maintain equipment, motivate team members to do their best, teach teamwork and skills, coach games

U.S. Citizen

Prepare tax forms, pay taxes, be an informed voter, know and obey laws, stay informed of current events, go to jury duty when called

Roles

Responsibilities

   
   
   
   

Spiritual Discipline Exercise — Simplicity

Simplicity has been widely recognized in the Christian tradition as a discipline.The “Roles” exercise provides an ideal opportunity to ask yourself, Is my life adequately simplified? Take some time to pray and reflect on the roles and responsibilities you currently hold. Seek wisdom from your time of prayer and from trusted believers. Do you have roles that you are convinced God is guiding you to perform but that require you to simplify other areas of life in order for you to fulfill these roles well? Are there roles that you hold but do not feel guided by God to perform? Are there too many distractions in your life that hinder you from giving your full attention to your roles? Make a list below of steps you will take to simplify your life.

Gender

This exercise will help you discover where some of your perspectives about gender have come from in the context of your earthly identity. In other words, how and from whom did you learn what masculinity and femininity are?

Respond to the following questions as objectively as you can. Both men and women should answer every question.

1. Would you describe your dad as having been primarily present or absent during your childhood? Explain.

2. What did your dad’s life teach you about what it means to be a man?

3. How did your dad relate to your mom?

4. Was there ever a time when your dad acknowledged that you had become a man or a woman? If yes, how did he do so? What criteria did he use (to your knowledge)?

5. Would you describe your mom as empowering or controlling? Explain.

6. How much time did you spend with your mom?

7. What did your mom’s life teach you about what it means to be a woman?

8. How did your mom relate to your dad?

9. Was there ever a time when your mom acknowledged that you had become a man or a woman? If yes, how did she do so? What criteria did she use (to your knowledge)?

10. From infancy through your teen years, were most of the adults you spent significant time with men or women? (Think of relatives, parents’ friends, teachers, and coaches.)

11. How did these adults’ views on masculinity and femininity compare with your parents’ views?

12. When you were a child, were your friends mainly male or female? What about when you were a teen?

13. During your childhood, how did you distinguish between boys and girls?

14. What did your peers understand about masculinity and femininity?

15. What are the main things you learned about gender during your childhood and early adult life?

Temperament

Although there are many personality assessment approaches, we will use the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates, in their book Please Understand Me, provide summary charts of MBTI’s four categories of human personality. The charts on the following pages are based on charts and descriptions from Please Understand Me. Carefully read through the charts and consider which characteristics are generally accurate for you.

Paul Tieger and Barbara Barron-Tieger, in their book Do What You Are, warn not to “worry too much about the terms used to describe the four dimensions (for example, ‘Sensing’ versus ‘Intuition’). In some sense, these terms don’t mean exactly what you think they do. Although they are words you know, they mean something different in this context.” The goal of this exercise is to begin to notice some basic characteristics of your personality that are consistent patterns in your behavior. The process will help you see that other people have different tendencies to how they respond to certain circumstances, just as much as you do. An awareness of that can be extremely helpful in our endeavor as followers of Christ to love others well.

Check or circle the descriptions that you think fit your personality, and make any applicable notes in the margins for your own reference.Then, write down answers to the questions that follow each chart. Keirsey and Bates encourage us to remember that you are looking for the predominant response in your life—the tendency.“The question always arises,‘Does not an extravert also have an introverted side and does not an introvert also have an extraverted side?’ Yes, of course. But the preferred attitude, whether it be extraversion or introversion, will have the most potency and the other will be the ‘suppressed minority.’”

We need to stress that this exercise and its use of these charts will not by itself verify your personality type.This exercise merely gives you a chance to consider what your type may be and to think about how knowing your type can help you live out your faith. (For a complete understanding of personality type and an effective method for verifying your personality type, see Please Understand Me.)

Extraverts/Introverts

1. Circle the traits that best describe you:

Extraverts

Introverts

Energized by social settings

Drained by social settings

Concern for external world and others

Concern for internal condition or reaction

Quantity of relationships

Quality of relationships

Prefer breadth

Prefer depth

Lonely when isolated from people

Lonely when surrounded by strangers

Drained by private time and space

Energized by private time and space

Prefer group interaction

Prefer focused concentration

Many friends

Limited friends

2. How do the characteristics you circled challenge your ability to be loving toward others?

3. How do they contribute positively toward your ability to be loving toward others?

4. How do they affect (both positively and negatively) your endeavor to live in a godly manner?

5. How do they affect your relationship with God?

Sensors/Intuitives

6. Circle the traits that best describe you:

Sensors

Intuitives

Rely on experience

Rely on hunches

Realistic

Speculative

Actual

Possible

What is

What if?

Down-to-earth

Head-in-clouds

Sensible

Imaginative

Trust facts

Suspicious of facts

Gathers facts

Considers options

Remembers facts

Seeks to overcome facts

Concern with past

Concern with future

Patterns

Change

7. How do the characteristics you circled challenge your ability to be loving toward others?

8. How do they contribute positively toward your ability to be loving toward others?

9. How do they affect (both positively and negatively) your endeavor to live in a godly manner?

10. How do they affect your relationship with God?

Thinkers/Feelers

11. Circle the traits that best describe you:

Thinkers

Feelers

Objective

Subjective

Principles

Values

Policy

Social values

Laws

Extenuating circumstances

Impersonal

Personal

Analysis

Sympathy

Justice

Humane

Hard-headed

Soft-hearted

Embarrassed to show emotion

Show emotion naturally

Persuaded by “rightness”

Persuaded by effect on others

12. How do the characteristics you circled challenge your ability to be loving toward others?

13. How do they contribute positively toward your ability to be loving toward others?

14. How do they affect (both positively and negatively) your endeavor to live in a godly manner?

15. How do they affect your relationship with God?

Judgers/Perceivers

16. Circle the traits that best describe you:

Judgers

Perceivers

Decided

Gather more data

Fixed

Flexible

Plan ahead

Adapt as they go

Run one’s life

Let life happen

Decision making

Treasure hunting

Planned

Open-ended

Wrap it up

Something will turn up

Deadline!

What deadline?

Make lists

Just wing it

Get the show on the road

Let’s wait and see

17. How do the characteristics you circled challenge your ability to be loving toward others?

18. How do they contribute positively toward your ability to be loving toward others?

19. How do they affect (both positively and negatively) your endeavor to live in a godly manner?

20. How do they affect your relationship with God?

Optional Exercise — Input from Friends and Family

To support your self-evaluation, we suggest you have one or more conversations with family members or close friends about the four charts on the previous pages. After you have completed your own answers to questions 1 through 20, set up a time to talk with someone who knows you well. Share your answers and ask for feedback about this exercise. On this page, record notes from the conversation. After the conversation, review your initial evaluation and make additional notes or changes.

Extraverts/Introverts
Sensors/Intuitives
Thinkers/Feelers
Judgers/Perceivers

Spiritual Discipline Exercise — Confession

Examining temperament can often reveal ways you have failed to demonstrate Christ’s love to others. Take time now to pray and confess your sin to God. Acknowledge to Him that you have sinned not only against another person but against His standard for your life.

It’s important to also experience His grace, because if you are a believer, Christ has paid for your sin on the cross. However, confession does not end with your communication with God. Go to the person you have wronged, acknowledge the sin to him or her, and ask for forgiveness. If there is any restitution to be made, do so as well. Zacchaeus provides us with a tremendous example of how you can pursue more than just a simple “I forgive you” from someone whom you have wronged (see Luke 19:1-10). You ought to seek to restore what was taken by your sin. Obviously, this may require some creativity on your part for a sin that does not involve material possessions being taken.

Write down the names of anyone with whom you have been prompted by God to seek forgiveness and reconciliation.

Heritage

1. Fill in the information about your birth.

Date of birth:

Place of birth:

Parents:

Siblings:

2. The rest of this section will help you examine your heritage as it has developed since your birth. In the spaces on page 111, record general facts about your heritage. (Don’t describe specific past events or relationships—you’ll do that later when you go through the Community study.) The definitions of mainstream culture, family culture, and subcultures on pages 45-47 will help you decide which box each of your heritage facts belongs in. The following lists might help you get the process started, but feel free to include other issues as well.

Functional Styles:

  •  Interpersonal communication (straightforward versus indirect, impersonal versus intimate, rational versus emotional)
  •  Household management (who performs chores, cooking, and maintenance; how much orderliness is valued)
  •  Expression of affection (verbal versus physical versus no expression at all)
  •  Conflict management (rare but explosive confrontations versus regular but calm confrontations or a complete lack of confrontations)
  •  Time (punctuality and its degree of importance)
  •  Money (spending habits and the priority of spending, saving, and giving)
  •  Recreational patterns (value of and involvement with physical exercise, outdoor activities, and social events)

Understanding of Success:

  •  View of competition and ambition
  •  Acceptable vocational goals
  •  Value of education
  •  Significance of family and personal reputation

Ethnicity and Its Implications:

  •  Ethnic environment (ethnically homogeneous versus multicultural versus minority in majority culture)
  •  View of other ethnic groups

Significance of Traditions:

  •  Celebrations and festivals
  •  Holidays
  •  Sports
  •  Arts (drama, music, visual art)

Mainstream Culture

Family Culture

Subcultures

Values I

Having made observations about various aspects of earthly identity, you will now turn to your values. Values are subjective judgments upon which you make decisions, use your time, and relate with people.

List what you consider to be your twelve most deeply held values.Typically these values stem from your earthly identity or are held in reaction to your earthly identity. Keep your observations from the exercises on gender, temperament, and heritage in mind as you identify what you consider to be your most deeply held values.

It’s important to note that you may appear to have different values in different contexts. At work you may value efficiency to the extent that you will sacrifice relaxation, but on vacation you may value relaxation to the extent that you will sacrifice efficiency.This inventory is meant to determine which values you hold regardless of context. Those are your core values.

Here are some sample values. This list is not comprehensive and is meant only to park your observations. Use additional ideas freely.

  • Peace: maintaining a sense of harmony and unity
  • Faith: depending on God
  • Grace: giving freely to others
  • Forgiveness: not holding grudges Honesty: speaking truthfully
  • Confession: verbally admitting failures
  • Conforming: fitting in with a group or culture
  • Working alone: accomplishing tasks individually
  • Influencing: changing the way others live
  • Recognition: receiving feedback and approval for one’s work
  • Accountability: being responsible to one another
  • Diversity of personality: valuing the uniqueness of yourself and others
  • Conflict resolution: getting conflicts out on the table
  • Shared goals: holding common goals along with others
  • Direction: having clear goals
  • Development: improving and refining skills and gifts
  • Inclusion: being included with others
  • Exclusion: being left alone
  • Intimacy: engaging deeply with others
  • Creativity: trying new things, expressing new thoughts, doing things differently
  • Training: repeatedly teaching effective principles/lessons/processes
  • Loyalty: sacrificing personal interests for those of others
  • Efficiency: pursuing high levels of productivity
  • Courtesy: having a friendly and hospitable attitude
  • Authenticity: expressing thoughts and emotions genuinely
  • Closure: completing tasks
  • Structure: having clearly defined expectations and plans
  • Spontaneity: continuously developing plans

My top twelve values (in no particular order):

1.

7.

2.

8.

3.

9.

4.

10.

5.

11.

6.

12.

Values II

Now that you have described what you understand to be your values, you will try to validate them. Transcribe your twelve most strongly held values to the table in this section. Analyze each value by providing specific examples from your life that confirm it.

For values you are able to back up, write “real” in the appropriate space. Write “ideal” if you can’t think of any examples of how you live that value or if your examples are not generally characteristic of your life. Ideal values are those you attach importance to in your head but can’t yet say are reflected in your life.

Value

Examples That Confirm It

Real or Ideal?

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

11.

12.

Identity in Christ

Biblical Statements

Take some time to read the following list of characteristics and their corresponding verses. Meditate on the verses as you read them. Place a check beside the characteristics and verses that you best understand and a minus beside the ones you least understand. Circle the statements that are the most meaningful to you.

  •  Fellow heir with Christ (Romans 8:17; Galatians 4:7)
  •  Justified (Romans 5:1)
  •  Friend of Christ (John 15:15)
  •  Citizen of heaven (Philippians 3:20)
  •  Temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19)
  •  Ambassador for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20)
  •  Coworker of God (1 Corinthians 3:9)
  •  Saint (1 Corinthians 1:2; Ephesians 1:1; Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:2)
  •  One spirit with Christ (1 Corinthians 6:17)
  •  One with the Father and Son (John 17:11,21-22)
  •  New creature (2 Corinthians 5:17)
  •  Righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21)
  •  One with all believers (Galatians 3:28)
  •  Free (Galatians 5:1)
  •  Blessed with every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3)
  •  Chosen, holy, and blameless before God (Ephesians 1:4)
  •  Loved and chosen (1 Thessalonians 1:4)
  •  Redeemed (Ephesians 1:7)
  •  Forgiven (Ephesians 1:7)
  •  Sealed with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13)
  •  Alive with Christ (Ephesians 2:5)
  •  God’s workmanship (Ephesians 2:10)
  •  Complete in Christ (Colossians 2:10)
  •  Raised with Christ (Colossians 3:1)
  •  Christ is life (Galatians 2:20; Colossians 3:4)
  •  Child of God (John 1:12; Romans 8:15-17; Galatians 4:7; Ephesians 1:5)

Spiritual Discipline Exercise — Worship

Spend some time in worship this week. Set aside time to focus on the character of God rather than on your current circumstances, the tasks on your schedule, or your personal relationships. Express your appreciation for His work of bringing you into a reconciled relationship with Him, in which you have been made His adopted child.

Spiritual Gifts

Every member in a Christian community should become a minister to others’ lives in some capacity. Spiritual giftedness describes the uniqueness of a person’s design as a minister in the body of Christ.This exercise is designed to help you make observations about your spiritual giftedness.

1. Read each of the following passages.Write what each passage teaches you about spiritual gifts.

  •  Romans 12:1-8
  •  1 Corinthians 12:1-31

2. The best way to discover your gifts is to experiment. Ministry involves formal or informal ways of serving. For instance, you may regularly take food to those in need, or you may typically contribute money (beyond your regular tithing) for church projects. If you have not had any experience in ministry or service, simply ask a church staff member or elder how you can help, and just start serving. Or look around you for something that needs to be done for others, and start doing it. Finally, small groups offer many opportunities to serve.You might be able to assist your group leader with some task, such as coordinating refreshments for the meetings or gathering and following up on prayer requests.

If you have already been serving, consider how you can improve your service. Make a point this week of getting involved in some area of service. What have you chosen?

3. Assess your gift(s) in relation to the Bible passages in question 1, counsel with other believers, and past experience. To aid in that process, write answers to the following questions. If you have limited experience in ministry, simply write as much as you can, keeping unanswered questions in the back of your mind to consider after you have gained some firsthand ministry experience.

  •  What aspects of ministry do you enjoy doing? (Some examples are teaching a third-grade Sunday school class, participating in evangelistic outreach programs, providing refreshments for small-group meetings, checking in with group members who have missed meetings, and praying for others.)
  •  What aspects of ministry do others enjoy or benefit from when you are doing them?
  •  What aspects of ministry have others in the community affirmed in you? (You can add answers to this question after your group meets to discuss gifts.)
  •  When you look at the church today, what do you see as thechurch’s greatest need?
  • What aspects of ministry do you know you’re not gifted in?

If you have further questions about gifts, ask your small-group leader or your pastor. Churches vary in their understanding of spiritual gifts, so we have deliberately avoided defining gifts in a particular way. Your pastor can help you do that.

Related Topics: Spiritual Life