Five minutes. Five years.

five yearsI talked with you last week about my spiritual formation course. If you were to take that course in a face-to-face setting, I’d start class with this assignment.


I want to you to take five minutes to answer this question.

How would you like to be known in five years?

You can’t talk about jobs. We’ve got no control over that. We’re talking about the kind of person you want to be. If you and I were friends and in five years we met someone new, how would you want me to introduce you?

A great example of this, by the way, is Paul’s introduction of Tychicus in Colossians 4.

Tychicus will tell you all about my activities. He is a beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are and that he may encourage your hearts, (Colossians 4:7-8 ESV)

He’s got three characteristics that Paul finds worth noting, three nouns and three adjectives. Brother, minister, servant. Beloved, faithful, fellow.

So take five minutes.


After this time of reflection, the learners would sit in groups of 3-4 and talk with each other. Eventually, each person introduces someone else from the group using the five-year description. And when I remember, I have the introductions happen in the present tense. Not, “he wants to be” but rather, “she is.”

It’s a heart-provoking process. It starts a course that talks about how we are formed with perspective. Looking at the gap between today and five years from today give us space for thinking about what processes happen in between.

And it’s a reminder of the value of conversation and community in that process.

If you want to go along for a ride with me, try this exercise yourself. Find a couple other people, ask the question, answer it together, and let me know what you discover.


About Jon Swanson

Social media chaplain. Author of "Lent For Non-Lent People" and "A Great Work: A Conversation With Nehemiah For People (Who Want To Be) Doing Great Works." Writer of I help people understand. Understand some of the Bible. Understand what Lent can be about. Understand what it means to follow.

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