John Wesley's self-examination questions

How do you match up?

Here are 22 questions similar to those John Wesley gave to members of his discipleship groups around 250 years ago.

The questions have their origin in the spiritual accountability group started by Wesley when he was a student at Oxford — a group that detractors called "The Holy Club." The first list appeared about 1729 or 1730 in the preface to Wesley's second Oxford Diary. Similar questions appeared in his 1733 A Collection of Forms of Prayer for Every Day in the Week. In 1781, Wesley published a list of questions like this one in The Arminian magazine.

  1. Am I consciously or unconsciously creating the impression that I am better than I really am? In other words, am I a hypocrite?
  2. Am I honest in all my acts and words, or do I exaggerate?
  3. Do I pass on to other people what has been said to me privately and in confidence?
  4. Can I be trusted?
  5. Am I a slave to dress, friends, work, or habits?
  6. Am I self-conscious, self-pitying, or self-justifying?
  7. Did the Bible live in me today?
  8. Do I give the Bible time to speak to me every day?
  9. Am I enjoying prayer?
  10. When did I last speak to someone else of my faith? [ conversation starter springboards ]
  11. Do I pray about the money I spend?
  12. Do I get to bed on time and get up on time?
  13. Do I disobey God in anything?
  14. Do I insist upon doing something about which my conscience is troubled or uneasy?
  15. Am I defeated in any part of my life?
  16. Am I jealous, impure, critical, irritable, touchy, or distrustful?
  17. What do I do in my spare time?
  18. Am I arrogantly proud?
  19. Do I thank God that I am not like other people, especially like the Pharisee who despised the publican?
  20. Is there anyone I fear, dislike, disown, criticize, hold resentment toward, or disregard? If so, what am I doing about it?
  21. Do I grumble or complain constantly?
  22. Is Christ real to me?

"Encourage one another daily . . . so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness." -- Hebrews 3:13

-- Howard Culbertson,

"No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself, and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true" — Nathaniel Hawthorne in The Scarlet Letter


John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, implemented a unique approach to spiritual growth and accountability within his societies through self-examination questions. These questions served as a reflective tool, guiding members to assess their adherence to Christian principles and their progress in personal holiness. Designed to foster introspection and encourage transparency, these inquiries delved into various facets of one's spiritual life, including prayer habits, treatment of others, stewardship of time and resources, and purity of heart. By regularly engaging with these self-examination questions in small accountability groups, Wesley sought to cultivate a culture of mutual support and accountability among believers, fostering a community dedicated to spiritual growth and moral integrity. This practice not only facilitated individual reflection but also strengthened the bonds of fellowship among members, creating a framework for communal encouragement and growth in Christian discipleship.

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