Examining Examen

“The beginning of a new year is an ideal time for pressing the pause button and reflecting on your life with God and others.”

With January coming soon to a hard stop, I’m curious if you have had time to do some prayerful examen this month. The beginning of a new year is an ideal time for pressing the pause button and reflecting on your life with God and others. Truth be told, it took me about two weeks into the month before I had the space and time to engage in the spaciousness of examen for which I was hoping. Once I took the time, I found it incredibly fruitful for my soul.

Here is a snapshot of what I did.

FIRST, I reflected back on the year 2018. I noted the highlights, the hard times, the special occasions, and the key people of the year. I focused mostly on where God had encouraged me personally, professionally, and spiritually.

I recalled with vivid recollection the birth of our granddaughter, Brenna Lynn, which was by far the number one gift of 2018.

I looked back on photos of some special occasions, travels, holidays, and the beauty of God’s creation. I wrote out some of my emotional highs and lows and concluded with a prayer of thanksgiving.

SECONDLY, I noted the themes of the past year that meant the most to me, including some of the topics I was researching and writing about, some of the books I had read, the ideas and concepts we have considered at LTI, and the themes I had been journaling about throughout the year.

I found this to be refreshing and thought-provoking, as well as noteworthy for what I felt was either complete or still in process. Processing my capacity to think, pray, distill, write, and reflect is a worthwhile endeavor.

THIRDLY, I looked ahead to 2019. What are the dreams and aspirations for the year ahead? Are there any notable goals or objectives for my personal or ministry life? Any key words stand out that would be helpful to focus on in my prayers, relationships, and personal growth?

This was a productive exercise in many ways, and I found myself looking forward with growing anticipation for the months to come. There is such joy in the anticipation of experiences on the horizon.

FINALLY, I prayed into all that I had reviewed about the past year, as well as my longings and desires for the year to come. I thanked God for the special people I’m sharing life with these days, in my family, friendship circle, ministry partners and collegial associates across the country. In my prayers I thanked God for each person, prayed over those with whom I am most concerned, and entrusted names and faces into the hands of our loving Father. It was a great reminder of the importance of community and the encircling of love with others.

This is just one example of a year end – year beginning examen.

Perhaps yours looks similar, or even quite different.

My hope is that you were able to find some time to devote to a serious examen and if not, that you’ll still consider doing so. It’s never too late to look back with gratitude, notice your emotional responses, thank God for his many gifts of grace, and look ahead with growing anticipation and joy.

In closing, if we can be of help along the way, don’t hesitate to reach out. The LTI team is committed to come alongside you in your spiritual journey. We have lots of great material available at our spiritual formation online store to assist you in your daily spiritual journey and your life of servanthood and leadership. “Slow down. Be more.”


PS – Register for the upcoming half-day Soul Sabbath on March 15 from 8:45AM- 12:30PM in Winchester, MA. This half-day retreat is themed Sheltered in the Shepherd’s Care, and will include a time of morning reflection, listening to God’s voice and responding together from our hearts.

Soul Sabbath


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Steve Macchia

Founder & President

The Rev. Dr. Stephen A. Macchia is founder and president of Leadership Transformations, Inc. (LTI), a ministry serving the spiritual formation, discernment, and renewal of leaders and learners since 2003. For more than 20 years he has been the Director of the Pierce Center for Disciple-Building at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also serves as an adjunct faculty member in the Doctor of Ministry Program. From 1989-2003 he was the president of Vision New England, the largest regional church renewal association in the country. Earlier in his ministry life, Steve was a member of the pastoral staff of Grace Chapel in Lexington, Massachusetts for 11 years. He is the author or co-author of 17 books, including The Discerning Life (Zondervan Reflective), and Crafting a Rule of Life, Becoming A Healthy Church (LTI), and Broken and Whole (IVP).  He and his wife Ruth live in the Boston (MA) area and are the proud parents of two married children and grandparents to three adorable grandchildren. Steve’s personal website is www.SteveMacchia.com.

My soul comes alive singing the great hymns of the church and enjoying the beauty of God’s creation. I’m in awe of God for fulfilling the dream for LTI that he birthed in my heart, for the team he has assembled, and the transformational impact experienced in the leaders and teams we serve.

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Mitzi Mak

Selah-West Faculty

Mitzi started her professional life as a high school social studies teacher. She and her husband Jerry then served cross-culturally for ten+ years, living abroad first in India and then Kurdistan, N. Iraq. In addition to being a Spiritual Director, she now serves as a Formation and Care pastor in her local church in Houston, TX. She has graduated from LTI’s Selah Spiritual Direction training as well as LTI’s Emmaus Formational Leadership Program.

Mitzi enjoys engaging conversation, reading fiction, doing jigsaw/crossword puzzles, ocean gazing and exploring the world with Jerry through food and travel.

God has two main callings in Mitzi’s life: to care for those who care for others and to be a guide in helping others have a healthy relationship with the Trinity – recognizing God’s loving presence and activity in their lives and how to faithfully respond.

Selah was a transformative experience for me – allowing the contemplative within to emerge and to beautifully co-exist with my extraverted personality.