Have you ever come across Joseph Luft and Harrison Ingham’s psychological model – the Johari Window? It is basically a 2x2 window where the first quadrat represents what you and everyone else knows about you (called the Open Area). The second quadrat represents what you don’t know about yourself but what your friends know about you (Blind Area), the third quadrat represents what you know about yourself but what others don’t know about you (Hidden Area) and the fourth quadrat represents what neither you nor your friends knows about you (Unknown Area).  This method simply makes you find out who you are in the eyes of your surroundings through collecting data from them.


As you may have understood, this window has been used uncountable times to improve the teamwork in a group where the main goal is to increase the open area as much as possible and discover things about others and yourself. However, this article is going to focus on how we can discover things about our spiritual lives, through this window.

Before we get any further and take a closer look at each square, let’s start with the definition of holiness as “true love that is nurtured and expressed with relationship with others” (The Salvation Army handbook of Doctrine, 2010:197), a journey and a discovery. Let us begin.


Open Area

When you are thinking about yourself and your life with people and God, how big is this area? We could look at the open area from two perspectives - we could see it as a square that we want to increase at the expense of the blind area and therefore understand more about ourselves and our spiritual lives. Or we can see it as an opportunity to show people what we have inside the hidden area and express our spiritual life. So there are only pros by making this area bigger.

As Christians who want to live a holy life, it affects every aspect of our being, including our relationship with God and other people, our self-image, our attitude to the created order and our being in society. We not only want to talk about God but we also want to show it and when we put our lives with God into action we will, automatically, make this area bigger in our lives. And when this square is increased, the blind area and/or the hidden area are decreased. This does not necessarily mean that we have to show people everything about our personal life with God (because we are all different in our personalities) but it means that we have to show that our relationship with God is genuine and that our love for others is sincere.  And I would say that sharing our lives with others is a huge part of living a holy life but it is totally up to you how to show it and how to make this open area bigger.

We may think that everything will be solved by making the open area bigger but I think it’s important to say that actions in themselves will never save our non-Christian friends but they can point to the only one who can save them – Jesus!


Blind Area

As I said in the introduction – Holiness is true love that is nurtured and expressed in relationship with others. This is the part of the window that is “owned” by others and by saying that “holiness is love nurtured […] in relationship with others” makes us dependent on others or the holiness will slowly die because it won’t get nurtured. By saying that, we can also state that saying that you are holy or living a holy life is useless in itself. In the end we should endeavour to decrease this area because the only people who can tell if you are showing a loving, holy life (except God) are our “neighbours”. Feedback from the people in our surrounding is therefore one of the strongest and most effective tools to help us grow both personally and spiritually. That feedback can confirm our love and show us what to work with.

We need great humility and a lot of bravery to ask for that kind of feedback and work with our weaknesses. To do that is a huge holiness challenge!


Hidden Area

I find this area the most difficult area to work with. How much do we have to give away? We do need to have our own privacy with God (Matthew 6:6) and grow as a Christians BUT we can’t make our relationship with God into something private. A wise person once said: “Christianity is a personal religion but it can never become a private religion”. What she meant was that no one can take away your personal experience of God but we can’t keep quiet about Jesus. A private religion is a selfish religion and I would say that selfishness is the biggest enemy to holiness.

As we are striving to be more like Jesus, we have to get rid of our self-interest and realise that we can’t win anything by doing so.

Personally I think that we have to make our hidden area more open and share it, so that you can go through struggle, pain, doubt or other hard stuff together with others. A good friend of mine once said: “It’s not about showing people your whole being but to choose what you’re showing people so that all four squares work in harmony and that people can look at one of the squares and get a relatively full picture of your relationship with God”.


Unknown Area

When you looked at this square for the first time you probably thought that this was the smallest area of your life. But I would say that this is the biggest and most exciting area because this is what only God knows about you. This square is infinite.

To explore this area is to realise who we are and what we do in the eyes of the Lord. But how do we decrease this square and explore this area of our life? We could discover it on our own by searching God through reading the Bible, praying and asking for his guidance - but that kind of information would just go from the unknown area into the hidden area. We could make sure that people pray for us but if they would discover something about my unknown area, it would end up in a bigger blind area. The picture above says that a shared discovery is the most effective way to find out what is behind the unknown area and at the same time discover more about ourselves. To think that your neighbourhood, your friends, your church, you and the Holy Spirit can discover the unknown area of holiness together is a fascinating and challenging thought.  Your window is unique and our journeys are different but we can always discover things together.

Yes, I said that this area is infinite and therefore it’s impossible to find out all the things God knows about us. But that’s the challenge of holiness.

The top picture is downloaded from: http://www.mindtools.com/CommSkll/JohariWindow.htm


Kristoffer Paulsson

Centre for Spiritual Life Development