Spiritual Backward Design

Ian Schneider-stocksnap
Ian Schneider-stocksnap

Have you ever wished you could be at a certain spiritual “place” in your life. Maybe you wanted to be stronger in you Faith, more generous, more consistent in spiritual disciplines, or less shaken in times of uncertainty. You just haven’t figured out how to get there?

I want to give you an idea that can help. I’m labeling it – Spiritual Backward Design.

In education the idea of backward design is that you start with the end in mind. You start off by asking what do I want my students to know at the end of this unit, semester, or project? Then, you begin to model your teaching based on that. Educators can then build their plan around that goal. Having the end goal in mind the criteria by which to know what research, games, projects, tests, and media should be used, discarded or put away for another time.

So how does this apply to our spiritual walk? I’ll give you an example of how I have used it.

I’m somewhat of a worrier and I seem to have a low stress tolerance. Many times when circumstance around me start to get difficult or too stressful, my first reaction is to start making plans on how to get myself out of the mess I’m in. And maybe that’s not necessarily a bad thing, except that one of my spiritual goals is to grow in character. And Romans 5:4 tells me that, “endurance produces character“. So for me this means that I need to endure through those difficult situations, not escape them.

Because, I have a desired end in mind of building character I can now

Aaron Burden-Stocksnap
Aaron Burden-Stocksnap

begin to look for ways to get there. As a christian the first place I want to look is in the Holy Scriptures, because I understand that they are God’s words

and His power in available in them.

In following my example I begin to look for verses that can help me endure. The verse that I have used and has helped so many times already is Philippians 4:7

 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

I can’t begin to tell you how awesome this verse has been in those difficult times. It has helped me endure through those moments when all I wanted to do is run away screaming. Every time I do this I have a great sense of satisfaction, because I know I am reaching my goal, memorizing scripture, and drawing nearer to God.

So take some time today to write down your spiritual goals and apply them with Spiritual Backward Design.

Here’s a summary of the process with my example in parentheses:

  1. Begin with the end in mind (Character)
  2. Plan based on that goal (scripture memorization)
  3. Implement (say the verse every time you are tempted to o the opposite direction)
  4. Feedback (journal, share with someone)

Please leave a comment and let me know if this has helped you or maybe you have some similar ideas that can help as well.

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