When I was teaching an adult Sunday school class, one member, the CEO of a major firm, asked me to lunch. He started the conversation by saying, "I have a CPA to keep me liquid, a lawyer to keep me legal, and a doctor to keep me healthy. But I have no one to help assess my spiritual condition. Can you give me a 'spiritual audit'?"
I had never thought about such a thing. I thrashed around, trying to be helpful, but felt completely lost in doing what he wanted.
This led me to think about a "spiritual audit," first for myself and then possibly for others. In the two or three years since, I have accumulated twelve questions I ask myself. I hope you will be encouraged to develop your own audit if you feel it helpful.
1. Am I content with who I am becoming?
Every day I get one day closer to who I will ultimately be. Am I satisfied with who this will be?
Our son, Fred, Jr., helped me with this question. He asked me about the important people in my life and after hearing each story, unerringly asked, "Did he finish well?" Some did, some didn't, and a few were disasters.
We must be sure our profession does not consume our person. It's important that we be more than we do or have. Too often I have seen executives leave their title and power and have nothing to fill the vacuum. They are shells, like the large beetles you find on pine trees in east Texas that look completely alive but have all their insides gone. They are as hollow as a drum.
Also, as we grow older, we must move from power to wisdom. Those who try to hold power too long are resented. Even parents who try to hold power over their children lose the love of their children. However, when we are able to give up power at the right time and become a wisdom figure, then we are useful, honored, and kept in the mainstream.
Of course, in power, we hold the offensive, while in wisdom we are the consultant—those who want our help come to us; we don't go to them. So I ask myself: Am I moving from power and becoming a person of wisdom?
2. Am I becoming less religious and more spiritual?
The Pharisees were religious; Christ is spiritual. Much tradition is religious, while relation in Christ is spiritual.
The difference between religion and spirituality is basically a matter of control. I define religion as an experience I can control, while spirituality is an experience that controls me. I confess that after many years of involvement in organized religion, I often feel the shallowness of the experience, the restriction of the rules, and reach out with a hungry soul for something truly spiritual in a relation with Christ.
Recently a friend near the end of his life came from another country just to visit. He had been well-recognized in business and religious circles. He'd had audiences with the Pope and enjoyed many honors in evangelical society. Yet he was spiritually hungry. As he drew near the end of his life, he wanted the warmth of spirituality rather than the formalism of religion. He wanted to do something significant, impressive, with his large fortune before his death.
I kept wishing he could, like a child, feel the love of God in a warm, personal way, which would relieve him of feeling responsible to impress God.
3. Does my family recognize the authenticity of my spirituality?
They see me whole. I would like to believe—and must believe—that if I am growing spiritually, my family will recognize it.
The late Ray Stedman, pastor of Peninsula Bible Church in Palo Alto, California, called together the first advisers for the Council on Biblical Exposition. There were seventeen or so well-known ministers and me, there as Ray's friend. During lunch, Stephen Olford said, "My brothers, I am weary of celebrity religion. I have had my share of honors, but when I die, unless my family can say, 'There is something of God in the man,' then I will have failed."