Soul Shepherding Institute – 2nd Retreat: A Brief Autobiography of Your Developmental Stages (Spiritual and Psychological Development)
Understanding your personal journey with Jesus will greatly help you in your life and ministry to others. Kristi and I teach a “LIFE in CHRIST” model of developmental stages in SSI (“Soul Shepherding Institute”) which is Soul Shepherding’s two-year certificate training in “Spiritual Formation and Soul Care Ministry.” The project for the second retreat is to tell the story of your Christian journey, focusing on your spiritual and psychological development.
You may not have personal experience with the later developmental stages and that’s okay! Christlikeness is not defined by the stage(s) we happen to be in at a given time. We all go through seasons in our growth and cycle through different stages. The measurement of our maturity is not the stage we most relate to but how we’re doing with loving God with our whole self and loving our neighbor as ourself (learning to obey Jesus’ Great Commandment from our hearts).
How to Respond to This Questionnaire
In what ways were your LIFE needs met (or not) as a child or later in life? Which CHRIST stages have you had experiences with? These are the two general questions of this survey. The specific questions below for each need/stage are designed as prompts. Respond to whichever ones best help you to describe your journey and it’s developmental stages.
To tell the story of your spiritual formation story include key events, experiences, and lessons. To mark your journey reference dates or ages and the associated LIFE in CHRIST developmental stages that you relate to. You can do this paper as a narrative in a few pages or a briefer outline. Alternatively, you could make a timeline graph on large construction paper and affix different colored post it notes on it along the needs and stages. Or you could make a collage (or series of collages) with pictures and brief descriptions.
- In what ways did you experience care as a young child? How were you not cared for sufficiently?
- Did you experience being listened to? Did you receive enough empathy and compassion? Describe.
- In what ways were your needs for secure attachment/bonding met in your development? How were these needs not met? What is your attachment style? (Secure Connector vs. Avoider, Pleaser, Vascilator, Controller, Victim)
- How has God brought healing/growth in your experience of loving care?
- Did you learn clear, strong, and flexible boundaries growing up? Describe.
- Were you encouraged to be yourself and apply your gifts?
- What was your role/identity in your family? For instance, hero, parentified child, achiever, peacemaker, clown, rebel, identified patient (having problems that need attention), lost child. How did your role affect your identity?
- What is your personality? Spiritual gifts?
- How has God brought healing/growth in your identity?
- Growing up did you experience forgiveness? Grace? Acceptance for your real self? Describe.
- As a child could you disagree and express anger honestly and respectfully and still feel loved?
- How has God brought healing/growth in your experience of his favor?
- What brought you joy in your childhood?
- Growing up did you learn to express sadness and other emotional struggles, experience comfort, and return to being joyful? Describe.
- How have you learned to live in enthusiasm that is beyond your circumstances of genetic personality? Describe.
- How has God brought you healing/growth in your ability to experience joy?
- How did you become a Christ-follower? Were you baptized? Describe.
- Early in your walk with Christ did you live “between two worlds,” sometimes following Christ and other times living in the way of the world? Describe.
Help in Discipleship
- Who discipled you to Jesus at the beginning of your walk and along the way as you’ve progressed? How did they help you to grow in your relationship with God?
- What spiritual disciplines have you used and how have they helped you?
- Did you get stuck in legalism? Describe.
Responsibilities for God
- In what ways have you served God in ministry or helped people in Jesus’ name? Share examples.
- How have you sought to be a witness for Christ?
- Did serving making you tired or leave you empty at any point? Describe.
Inward Journey and the Wall
- At any point has God led you into the depths of your heart to feel and share with others deep hurts or pains?
- Have you ever been ravished with longing for God and Jesus? Have you sensed God calling you into greater intimacy with him or a total consecration? Describe this.
- Did you get stuck at a wall, maybe more than once? Describe any experiences you’ve had with a faith crisis, overwhelming trial, or Dark Night of the Soul.
- Have you heard God’s voice or sensed God calling you to minister to people in some way and if so what was this like? Have you had any mystical experiences and if so what were they like?
- Have you experienced the difference between ministry done in your own strength versus in the easy yoke of Jesus? Describe your experience, positive or negative.
- If you think you’ve experienced “Spirit-led Ministry” how has this been different than “Responsibilities for God”? If you haven’t experienced much of this easy and delightful partnership with Jesus then describe your longings for this.
- Do you routinely find yourself praying, worshiping the Lord, or or looking to God when you hadn’t consciously intended to? Describe your experience of this or how you feel about your struggle in this area.
- Have you ever caught yourself, after the fact, having genuinely blessed someone who cursed you (or was very difficult to deal with)? Have you spontaneously and sincerely blessed “competitors” (people that in the past you would’ve tried to be better than or defeat in some way)? Describe your experience of this or how you feel about your struggle in this area.
- When you go through pain or suffering do you readily find yourself identifying with Jesus and experiencing the sweetness of the fellowship of his sufferings? Describe your experience of this or how you feel about your struggle in this area.