What major lessons or principles has this person lived by or discovered?
Few people walk around being able to identify the major themes of their life. It is only after much reflection and prayer that we are able to recognize major themes than run through our experiences. Part of that is because we seldom stop to speak into one another in this important way.
Not long ago, I was asked to officiate a funeral for my friend's father. He was the oldest male in the family, and I was blown away by what was said about him. Every child and grandchild that came forward mentioned the same thing: He served his family in love. Surely, he had many other traits—good and bad—but this one thing is what he would be remembered for.
I love helping my group members consider the themes of their lives. Conversations about theme are intimate, however, and require a high level of trust. After your group has covered some ground, and is comfortable sharing vulnerably, ask these important questions about theme:
What is the one lesson God keeps reminding you of?
What is the legacy you want to leave behind?
What one value do you want to pass on to your children?
If you could finish one thing by the end of your life, what would it be?
These are future-oriented questions, but the answers only make sense in light of the past. Bryan Loritts once said, "Often our greatest passion is birthed out of our greatest pain." If something is strong enough to be a theme of your life in your future then there is already evidence of it being a theme in your present.
—Jon Noto is a community life pastor and licensed clinical counselor at Willow Creek Community Church's North Shore campus.