Spirituality Assessment Tool

The following test is designed to work with my book, The Jesus Creed: Loving God, Loving Others. I am a bit of an assessment nut, so the test actually measures the degree to which readers begin to conform to what is written in the Jesus Creed (and the Companion Guide). I make no pretense that this does it all, or that it perfectly measures spiritual formation, but it is a start. [The Jesus Creed project has two books: the original Jesus Creed [above] and the 40 Days book, and you can find it through the link above, too. We have a Students Edition coming out in a few months.]

What do you think? Any thing to add? How do you measure love?

The ideal is to take this test before reading the book, and then after, and then periodically — and then to develop strategies for growth.

The secret to this test is utter honesty with oneself over time. There is no “right” or “wrong” answer, though the answer at times will seem obvious. For each question, honesty is the key.

1. I sense myself being most spiritual when: (1) I am reading the Bible, (2) I am doing something religious for others, (3) I am attending church, (4) I am communing with God, (5) I am exercising love toward others and God.

2. When I pray, I sense that my prayers both to God and for others are natural expressions of my love for God and my love for others. (1) Never, (2) almost never, (3) sometimes, (4) often, (5) always.

3. I know that God loves me: (1) but I’m not sure he does love me, (2) but I rarely experience God’s love as real, (3) and I sometimes experience God’s love as real, (4) and I often experience his love as real, (5) and I always experience God’s love as real.

4. To love others means to “embrace” (not necessarily physically) others outside of our normal circle. (1) But I almost never embrace anyone outside my normal circle, (2) I sometimes embrace someone outside my normal circle, (3) I often embrace someone outside my normal circle, (4) I am always embracing someone outside my circle, (5) I am working to get others to embrace others outside their normal circles.

5. Love for me involves (1) always accepting others and their behavior regardless of who they are and what they do, (2) always discriminating who someone is and what they do before I accept them, (3) sometimes accepting others regardless of who they are and what they do, (4) sometimes discriminating who someone is and what they do before I accept them, (5) usually accepting others and their behavior regardless of who they are and what they do.

6. Spiritual formation for me is centrally focused on (1) knowing the Bible and obeying everything God has taught us in the Bible, (2) serving others, (3) developing our relationship with God through spiritual disciplines like prayer and Bible reading and solitude, (4) loving other people in concrete ways, (5) both and at the same time loving God and loving others.

7. I believe that a person can “begin all over again” before God when a person (1) cleans up her or his own act, (2) makes intentional and deep resolutions in the heart to clean up her or his own act, (3) actually begins to clean up her or his own act, (4) acknowledges to herself or himself that she or he needs to clean up her or his own act, (5) simply tells the truth about herself or himself before God.

8. It really matters most to God (1) what my reputation is in my own world, (2) what my reputation is most of the time, (3) what others think of me and who I know I really am, (4) who I think I am, (5) who I am before God.

9. I embrace Christians of all sorts and with all kinds of stories, (1) but I find some Christians unacceptable, (2) I find few Christians unacceptable, (3) I find lots of kinds of Christians acceptable, (4) I find most Christians acceptable, or (5) I find all Christians acceptable.

10. I think Christians ought to grow in their faith regularly and clearly and (1) I think conversion is a powerful event that should spiritually change people rapidly, (2) I think those who don’t grow are probably not even Christians, (3) I think those who are growing slowly to be either lazy or spiritually deficient, (4) I sense that most Christians are growing even if slowly, (5) I think growth happens over one’s whole life.

11. One characteristic that ought to be visible in all Christians is love. (1) I find that I am loving rarely during the day, (2) that I am loving sometimes during the day, (3) I find that loving is hard but I work at it, (4) I find that I am becoming more loving, (5) I sense that I am almost always loving toward others.

12. Compassion is often mentioned in the life of Jesus, and it something about Jesus we should try to emulate. When I see someone in need, (1) I rarely stop to help the person, (2) I sometimes help the person, (3) I often help such persons, (4) I help them unless I am pressed for time, or (5) I always help such persons, even if it means interrupting my schedule.

13. As I follower of Jesus I sense that (1) I changed mostly just after my “conversion” and admit that I haven’t changed much since then, (2) I changed some at my conversion and some not long after that, (3) I’ve changed rather unpredictably since my conversion, (4) I have changed fairly consistently since my conversion, (5) I am conscious of my need to grow every day.

14. When I think of how I can have a kingdom influence in my world, (1) I dream big and think of influencing “city hall,” (2) I dream big and try to contact people of influence, (3) I dream realistically and contact people who I think may help, (4) I dream realistically and contact my closest friends, (5) I dream big and love everyone I meet.

15. I practice justice most often when (1) I support those who punish those who have abused others or broken laws, (2) I rectify wrongs done by people in power, (3) I do good to all that I can, (4) I love my neighbor as myself and practice the Golden Rule, and (5) I help others learn to love God and to love others.

16. The society Jesus wants is a society in which humans are restored to God and to one another, (1) but I rarely am involved in restoring persons to God or to others, (2) I am sometimes involved in restoring others to God and to others, (3) I often help people get restored to one another, (4) I sometimes help people get restored to God, (5) I am devoted to helping people get restored to both God and others.

17. Jesus was joyful, and I believe joy is characteristic of a spiritually-formed person. (1) I am rarely joyous, (2) I am often annoyed by joyous people, (3) I am sometimes annoyed by joyful people, (4) I am often joyful, (5) I am joyful and joyous when others are joyful.

18. Jesus clearly believed in Eternity, and thought we should live in light of it. (1) I admit that I suppress thoughts about Eternity, (2) I am a bit frightened by Eternity and so rarely think of it, (3) I sometimes think of Eternity and I wonder about it, (4) I think of Eternity quite often and it influences how I live, (5) I think of Eternity often and it shapes my life considerably.

19. Believing, or having faith, in Jesus Christ and God is central to the gospel, and (1) I see faith as believing the right things about God, (2) I see faith as accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior, (3) I see faith as a choice to follow Jesus daily, (4) I see faith as an ongoing trust in God, (5) I see faith as an aspect of my love for God in heart, soul, mind and strength.

20. Abiding constantly in the Lord’s power and love is central to spiritual formation, (1) but I find abiding constantly to be nearly impossible in my current condition, (2) I find abiding constantly t
o be difficult, (3) I find abiding constantly to be difficult but I am learning and growing, (4) I find abiding constantly to be a challenge that I am frequently successful in accomplishing, (5) I am constantly abiding in the presence of the God.

21. If God is truly God, and if Jesus is the Incarnation of God, then living for him and “under” his will is an aspect of spiritual formation. (1) I find the term “under” or the term “submissive to God” to be unacceptable, (2) I know living “under” God is important but I still find it very difficult, (3) I find living “under” God’s will to be mostly good, (4) I find submitting to God’s will to be good and I am growing, (5) I find being “under” God’s will to be the most liberating thing I can do.

22. I sin. (1) I almost never confess my sin, (2) I sometimes confess my sins, (3) I often confess my sins but I don’t sense I am improving, (4) I confess my sins and find that I am growing, (5) I find that I confess less sins now than I did five years ago.

23. When someone does me wrong, (1) I usually hope they suffer for it and I will never forgive them for it, (2) I sometimes hope they suffer for it and I doubt I will ever forgive them for it, (3) I struggle with thinking what it will be like to forgive them, (4) I struggle but I am committed to forgiving them for it and I usually do forgive them for it (5) I struggle, I am committed to forgiving them, and I do forgive them when I get the chance.

24. I am committed to the kingdom of God in Jesus Christ. (1) But I have never tried to get someone to convert to Jesus Christ, (2) I used to witness to my friends and others, (3) I still sometimes share my testimony and hope it will have an impact on others, (4) I sometimes share the gospel with others, (5) I regularly work with people to convert them to Jesus’ gospel message about the kingdom.

25. Everything I read in the NT teaches me that God has provided everything for me in Jesus Christ. (1) But I find myself most often dependent upon my own resources, (2) I find myself too often dependent upon my own resources, (3) I find that I often depend on God but also on myself, (4) I am becoming more and more dependent upon what God has done for me in Christ, (5) I am conscious that I am deeply dependent upon Christ all the time, and often I am not even aware of it.

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • Ann F-R

    streeeeeeetch!!! :)

    It’s such a long journey, full of opportunities placed in front of us by God to love others different from ourselves! May we strive to aim for the Romans 5 “hope [that] does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given us”! Otherwise, we may faint on this road if we try to walk in our own strength. It can be surely be hard to perceive difficult, different, broken, angry, vindictive, &/or unpleasant people with the steadfastly loving eyes of God.

  • Jonathan

    Is this assessment meant to be “pick one answer”, or “pick all that apply”? Some of the questions have answers which seem to be on a scale, such that a given responder would choose just one answer (e.g., #24). However, the answers to some other questions are such that I could easily imagine several of them being true for some people (e.g., #10).

  • smcknight

    Jonathan, unless I’m mistaken, there’s a scaling here toward the last answer. But that is shaped by how I define or understand love.

  • Susan N.

    Scot @ #3 — I wondered about interpreting the score also. For exammple, on question #22, the more I learn about Christ and live (or fail to live) by faith in Him, I think my awareness of sin and shortcomings is greater… Therefore, my answer was a split between 3 and 4. Is 5 the best possible answer here? Similarly, on #24, I would say a combination of 3 and 4, but not so much 5. However lame it may be (?) I feel the converting is really the work of the Holy Spirit. If I begin to think it’s my job to change people’s minds and hearts, I get way too zealous for my own good. #19 — 3, faith as a choice to follow Jesus daily, leads (for me) to 5, loving God with my whole being.

    Just curious about how the scoring is supposed to come out, in a “best case scenario”.

  • smcknight

    Susan N.,
    Thanks. The ideal answer for #22 is #5 since it implies ongoing transformation into holiness and love.

    #24 is scaled toward courage to evangelize. I’m with you on the Holy Spirit but the scale assumes that and presses us to think more in terms of intentional evangelism.

  • Susan N.

    Thanks, Scot, for the explanations. I recognize the truth in what you are saying. For me, I think one weakness I struggle with is being extremely self-critical at times. I can conjure up a million ways to beat myself up for failures and shortcomings. So my perception of things is likely often skewed, either way — not recognizing sin or questioning everything I do too much.

    This goes to #24… I am loathe to say the wrong thing that would turn someone away from Christ, so I rarely push hard on “telling”. In my youth, church members went cold calling, door-to-door, to “share” the gospel — mostly with Catholic families! The repugnance of this practice has really (now) caused me to veer as far to the opposite extreme as I can; which is to say, I’m sure I need to learn a better balance. Baggage is so hard to unload!

    I’m appreciative of this discussion series and your leadership here.

  • Sue

    #5 This is a good question, but I think there could be another one exploring the fine line between outwardly tolerating another person and accepting them. The Holy Spirit frequently convicts me for even thinking mocking or disparaging thoughts about someone.

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    Scot,

    Thanks. In contemplating these today a couple of interrelated things stuck out to me and I would like to get your thoughts.

    First, it seems that many of these are taught first as one of the lower numbers and not as the higher numbered thing. Is that your experience? Do you feel that we shoudl be taught the number 5 thing first?

    Second, it seems that many of these are maturation oriented so someone thinking about it on the 1 to 2 steps may not even see the value in 4 or 5 or acknowledge that it is a good thing. So back to my first question, should we teach 4 or 5 as a target, or should we start lower?

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    Now I will guess the answer to my own question. We should teach the book, and assess seperately.

  • Linda

    I want to add what Jesus said about loving Him, He said:

    “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” John 14:21

    He also said:

    “Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.” John 14:23

    So based on what Jesus said a sure way to assess your love for Him is how well you keep His Word and obey His commands.

  • Linda

    I wanted to mention using the Ten Commandments would be a good assessment tool, since basically it breaks down what it means to love God and others.

    Also use what Jesus said on the Sermon on the Mount, since He explains what it really means to obey the Ten Commandment – for example Christ says that if you look at a woman that you are not married to with lust He considers it adultery.

  • http://abisomeone.blogspot.com Peggy

    Nice, Scot! Having read all your book before, I guess I’ll just have to try to remember how I was/thought before 8)

  • Jim Crigler

    I don’t think this kind of navel gazing is helpful.


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