Seeking Closer Approach to God’s Purpose
THE PRINCIPLE An individual could assess his/her performance periodically relative to self-established goals, make changes as necessary to improve future performance, and thereby seek to approach closer to God’s purpose.
MOTIVATION The idea is motivated by an interaction between Paul and Ephesian elders just before he departed from their region. He declared he had completed his task for the region, enumerated specific accomplishments, exhorted them to remain steadfast, and informed them he was leaving and did not intend to return to the region. What Paul did here was a self-assessment at the end of a specific task to make a case that he accomplished the assigned objective. In an earlier biblical parallel, Joshua assessed his performance before the leaders and elders of Israel after several decades of leading them successfully to take ownership of territory that God promised them through their ancestors.
SELF ASSESSMENT TO IMPROVE FUTURE PERFORMANCE In the self-assessment of Paul and Joshua, each knew his task exactly, had gone through the task, and therefore could declare victory in a look-back evaluation. In contrast, the self-assessment we are trying to learn does not have the benefit of a well-known specific task for each individual. Instead, an individual would define (and re-define) personal goals based on a generalized understanding of God’s purpose for human beings and evaluate his/her performance periodically relative to the self-defined goals.
TWO-PART STUDY The study will be discussed in two parts. The first focuses on understanding the self-assessments of Paul and Joshua. In the second part, we will combine lessons from the first part with other information from the bible to attempt an understanding of using periodic self-assessment to improve future performance.
Self Assessment by Paul
THE ASSIGNMENT Paul received his assignment during his encounter with Christ on his way to Damascus. In an account of the incident during his trial in Jerusalem several years later, he testified that he was chosen to know the will of God, communicate directly with Christ, and bear witness to all people about what he has seen and heard [Acts 22:12–21]. He also testified that Christ told him to leave Jerusalem and take his message “…far away to the Gentiles” [Acts 22:21]. He took the message to various parts of Europe and Asia in two missionary journeys, after which he settled and ministered in Ephesus for about three years.
ASSESSMENT AT COMPLETION He declared as follows at his farewell to the Ephesian elders.
- During his three years with them, he testified to them about the good news of God’s grace, preached to them to turn to God in repentance and faith, served God with great humility and tears, and endured severe testing by Jewish opponents.
- He is innocent of the blood of any who failed to receive his message.
- They should remain steadfast and watchful of people that will tempt them with alternative message to lead them astray.
- He did not depend on them for support during the period but worked to provide for his needs and his companions’.
Essentially, he assessed his performance before them, declaring to them that he completed his assignment satisfactorily and was free to leave.
Self Assessment by Joshua
THE ASSIGNMENT After Moses died, God appointed Joshua to succeed him as leader of the Israelites. His specific task was to lead the Israelites across the Jordan River, take possession of the land to the west of the Jordan with boundaries that God defined to him, lead them to obey the laws that Moses gave to them, and do these without fear because the Lord will be with him [Joshua 1:1–9]. Joshua led the Israelites through several battles and acquisition and distribution of land.
ASSESSMENT AT COMPLETION When he realized his time was about to end, he setup a meeting with the elders, leaders, judges, and officials, and told them the following.
- He led them against all nations on their way, through several battles that God fought for them, and allotted all the land to them as inheritance.
- They should be careful to obey the laws of Moses and remain steadfast with God because he has fulfilled all his promises to them.
- They should not associate or inter-marry with the nations that remained in the area and should not worship their gods. God will be angry with them if they did.
Having assessed his performance and declared he accomplished his task, he told them he was close to death and bid them farewell.
A Concluding Session
In the self-assessment of Paul and Joshua, each of them assembled his people, declared he completed his assignment, described what he did in general, and encouraged them to hold steadfast to what he accomplished with them. Each “looked back” to evaluate his performance in a specific and well-defined task.
In contrast, the self-assessment we are trying to learn is for improving future performance, by evaluating past performance in comparison with individual goals that each person develops for himself or herself based on a generalized understanding of God’s purpose. The intention is that each person will modify his/her individual goals periodically and evaluate performance relative to the modified goals, in order to approach closer to God’s purpose for him/her.
Please join us next week as we discuss more details of this approach to individual self-assessment.