The School of Christ

July 03, 2019 | Church | John Freedman

Spiritual checklists have gotten a bad reputation — and for good reason. Our standing with God is established, not by our performance, but by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and His ministry in our hearts through the Holy Spirit. But let me share why checklists have not only become important but essential for me.

In 1935, the U.S. Army Air Corps held a competition to determine which aircraft company would build the next generation long-range bomber.

Boeing was confident it would win the contract with a new airplane that was not only faster, but capable of carrying five times more than the required payload.

But on the day of competition, with two of the army’s best test pilots in the cockpit, the plane went out of control seconds after takeoff and crashed. Both pilots were instantly killed.  

An intensive investigation revealed the crew simply forgot to disengage the “gust locks” on the plane's control surfaces. With those engaged, the pilots had very little control of the plane in the air.

In the aftermath of this tragedy, Boeing formed a think tank that resulted in a simple, yet effective solution — a pilot checklist. Aircraft technology was developing so rapidly that planes were becoming too complex for a pilot to remember all the steps needed to fly them safely.

With the flight checklist protocol in place, Boeing’s plane won the contract. It became known as the B-17 "Flying Fortress," which aided the Allied cause during World War II.

Pilots have been using flight checklists ever since. Every pilot is required to visually check each item on the checklist. “Putting eyes on” a potential problem on the ground can help a pilot correct the problem before it becomes life-threatening in the air.

Since then, the world has become increasingly more complex with technological advances. We hold exponentially more computing power and access to worldwide knowledge in our mobile phones than my dad had in an IBM computer that took up most of the wall in his classroom.

With everything that clamors for our attention, it is increasingly easy for us to forget essentials in our daily journey. Checklists can help us form good habits, habits that aid us in developing spiritual disciplines such as Bible study and prayer.  As a student, a pastor and administrator, these habits have not only helped me identify areas that need adjustment but have also strengthened my spiritual relationship with Jesus.  Allowing the Spirit to “put eyes on” potential problems in my walk with Christ helps to correct problems before they become crises.

Relationships are built when we allow someone to know what is on our heart. When I trust you enough to speak truth into my life, our relationship deepens. In this way, I believe checklists have helped, not hindered, my relationship with Jesus. They have reminded me to not neglect the processes that open my heart to the Spirit and allow the divine, spiritual healing that I so desperately need every single day.

This divine guidance cuts through my human limitations. After all, as Jeremiah observed, “The heart is deceitful above all things … who can know it? I, the Lord, search the heart …" (Jer. 17:10). I am grateful the Holy Spirit looks deep within my heart to read my motives and leads me to hunger for Jesus. As I’ve prayed and listened for His guidance in the daily school of Christ, I’ve been amazed at what He reveals.

Spiritual checklists are not our Savior, but they can be a helpful tool that opens us to the work of the Holy Spirit. I have found these important reminders position me where the Spirit can keep my spiritual life alive and growing in an increasingly complex world. I pray this can be your experience too.