Changing Diapers & Spiritual Health

By Steve Gladen
Diaper

Photo by Spigoo.

Before you can build your small group strategy, you have to realize the importance of working on your own spiritual journey. We all have a dark side – something broken inside us. If you are not aware that you need to work on your own issues, you are wasting your time. If you don’t realize your spiritual journey needs to be engaged and developed, you are missing what being formed in Christ is all about. Before you can guide your small groups in achieving balance, you must understand how to work on balance in your own life.

On the first Friday of every year, Lisa and I get together and share our personal Spiritual Health Plan for the coming year. In 1999, when my daughter Erika was just a baby, Lisa and I hired a sitter and went out and exchanged our plans over dessert. I looked hers over quickly and said, “Hey, this looks good,” and returned the plan to her. She held mine in her hands and was still reading. I waited for her response. A few long minutes passed, and eventually she said, “I think there are some things that you’re missing that are holes in your spiritual life and you should probably write them down here.” So I said, “Oh? Can I have your planner back? Because I’m ready to be honest too.” I can play this game!

As our conversation continued, one of the things she suggested I add to my planner was “develop family time.” That is because a number of years ago I almost made a train wreck of our marriage. I fell more in love with my work than I was with my wife. WE didn’t have kids at the time, and we were able to work through it with some counseling. Since we had recently added a baby to the picture, Lisa wanted to make sure I did not fall back into my old ways of being a workaholic. So I added “develop family time” to my Spiritual Health Plan, and we finished dessert.

A few months later I was involved in a 2-day conference at Saddleback. As I walked in the back door at the end of the first day, Lisa asked, “Hey, can you change Erika’s diaper?” I barely broke stride and quickly replied, “Sure, babe. I just want to download a couple of thoughts from the conference first. I’ll just go upstairs really quick and do that, and I promise you that in five minutes I’ll be back down to change her diaper.”

Without a word, she walked over to the counter where my Spiritual Health Plan was and pulled it out. She opened it deliberately, pointed to a page, and said, “Two months ago, you vowed to me that you would work on this area. Your daughter is not an interruption in your busy schedule. If you want to be the spiritual head of this house and value your family, then you need to make a choice. Do you want to go upstairs or do you want to change her diaper?”

I felt like a sledgehammer had hit my chest. I mean, the wind was knocked out of me. I will never forget it.

Needless to say, I changed my daughter’s diaper.

The Assessment

Like our physical health, our spiritual health needs to be assessed and managed. What does spiritual health look like? Some measure spiritual health by having the right answers to theological questions. Others believe spiritual health is demonstrated by acts of service. While these are good things, our spiritual life suffers if we do not balance all five of God’s purposes in our lives.

In order to help people get a better sense of how well they’re doing this and how they might develop a plan for improvement, we put together two tools we offer in a single booklet:

Spiritual Health Assessment: This self-assessment tool is designed to help people take a snapshot of their life and see how well they are balancing the five biblical purposes. The goal is neither to score high nor to compare oneself with others. Rather, we want to provide a starting point from which people can begin to pursue a healthier spiritual life.

Spiritual Health Plan: Once someone has completed the Spiritual Health Assessment and has identified a weak area, this tool will help him or her to develop an action plan for growing in that area.

Interested in the Health Assessment & Planner? Pick yours up HERE.

Steve Gladen

Steve Gladen is Pastor of Small Groups at Saddleback Church, which sees over 30,000 people gathering weekly in 5,000 small groups. He's the founder of SmallGroups.net and travels widely to speak on the topic of small groups and healthy, biblical community. He is the author of several books including Small Groups With Purpose and Leading Small Groups With Purpose.