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7 Ways To Identify Your Idols


In Matthew 19, Jesus has an encounter with the man we’ve come to know as The Rich Young Ruler. On the surface, we’re prone to think this story is mostly about greed, or how we get to heaven (the question the Rich Young Ruler originally asks Jesus). And it is, on one level, about both of those things. But if we look one level below the surface, we see that the story is essentially about idolatry – the things we love and long for more than Jesus.

The Rich Young Ruler couldn’t see his idol, but Jesus could. This is the way it often is with idolatry – we are so caught up in it that we can’t see the forest for the trees. We’re too close to it, and too close to see it.

Can you see what your idol is? Here are seven practical questions you can ask yourself to help identify your idols:

1. What is the first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning and/or when I go to bed at night?

These are the times our greatest priorities are often on our minds. Priorities aren’t inherently idolatrous, but they can definitely point us to the things we may ultimately love and long for more than Jesus. Follow your first thoughts the first thing in the morning or at night, and you might just find your idol.

2. What do most of my conversations revolve around?

We talk the most about the things that are most important to us. The things we initiate conversations around or steer conversations toward can be very telling. Listen to your conversations more closely and you might just learn the things you love and long for more than Jesus.

3. What do I worry about the most?

Worry is inextricably connected to our wantings. We worry most about the things we want the most. Identify your greatest worries and you might just identify your idol.

4. What do I think about most when I’m daydreaming?

Daydreaming is inextricably connected to our desires, to the things we delight in the most. Debrief your daydreams and you might just determine what your idols are.

5. What is the thing that makes me angry when I don’t have or get enough of it?

Anger can be inextricably connected to our affections – the longings of our heart. When these affections aren’t satisfied, when these longings aren’t met, we can get angry. Acknowledge the sources of your anger, and your idols may just become more apparent.

6. What do I run to or need to get more of when life gets uncomfortable?

When life gets uncomfortable, we unconsciously run to the things that bring us comfort – often the things we care about most and the things we believe most care for us. Uncover these things and you might just uncover your idols.

7. What would my spouse and/or best friend say is my idol?

So often the people who are closest to us can help us see the things we’re too close to to see ourselves. Ask your spouse or best friend what they think you love and long for the most. This could tell you pretty quickly, though not painlessly, what your idols may be.

Does considering these questions help you identify what your idol might be?