SPIRITUAL GROWTH IS A CONTINUOUS process that requires ongoing assessment, consistent effort, and frequent adjustments. In Philippians 3:12-14, Apostle Paul wrote: “I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection” (New Living Translation).
When was the last time you evaluated your spiritual life? Are you still struggling with the same old issues? Has the Holy Spirit repeatedly asked you to work on a particular area of weakness? If you answered “yes” to at least one of these questions, now is the time to turbo- charge your spiritual growth. Here are a few steps that will give you a jump-start.
Yep. Decide. You have the choice. After all, it’s scriptural: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us” (Hebrews 12:1, New Living Translation). Does the Scripture state, “Let God strip off every weight for you”? No. It states that we must, decisively, strip off our weight. We must initiate the change.
For years, I struggled with guilt and frustration over how, when, and why I would read God’s Word and pray for my spiritual growth. Four years ago, I finally decided to make a daily appointment with my King. I literally put God in my appointment book. In ink! My appointment with the Lord was not to receive a “Word” for my next sermon. It was for my personal growth and fellowship with God. I had to adjust my priorities. My growth could only come after I decided to change.
At the risk of sounding Zen, become an empty vessel. Many cultures and paths of religious thought have expressed this idea, which doesn’t make it any less true. Actually, it’s biblical! John 3:30 states, “He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.” Essentially that means our goal is to become empty vessels that God can fill with His greatness. The more we grow spiritually, the more we will realize how much we still have to grow. If we are stuffed with what we perceive to be our “years of experience” and “biblical knowledge,” we run the risk of being full of ourselves – but empty of God’s Spirit.
In his book, Gift of Knowing Yourself: God’s Sacred Call to Self-Discovery, David Brennan states: “We do not find our true [selves] by seeking it. Rather, we find it by seeking God.” In this day and age, Christians often run to their favorite televangelist, author, and conference speaker. Instead, they need to run to the Word of God and sit still in the Lord’s presence. As Apostle Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 3:6, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.” Ministry leaders can plant and water seeds in your spirit, but you will have to sit in God’s presence in order for your spirit to grow.
Fitness gurus recognize the relationship between growth and change. For example, when embarking upon a new workout routine, people will generally see tremendous results in the beginning. However, once their body becomes adjusted to the training schedule, they will reach a plateau and be required to change their exercise regimen. This powerful principle also applies to our spiritual growth. Old Bible study habits, customary devotional time, and habitual fasting practices need to be adjusted when they no longer yield spiritual growth and a closer communion with God.
But wait! – Don't change your entire routine, unless it’s necessary. There may be aspects to your Bible study and “quiet time” with God that produce great spiritual results. Therefore, it’s possible that you simply need to change the heaviness of your “weights” – the amount of time you devote to prayer, fasting, and personal Bible study.
A growth environment is a place where other people are ahead of you. It’s an atmosphere where you feel stretched. It’s a training ground where you are out of your comfort zone. Sometimes, someone else’s meat is your baby food. As a result, it is important to reposition yourself in a growth environment – around people who match and exceed your spiritual development. Throughout my life, I have discovered that I never grow or develop where I feel comfortable.
I have a desktop picture on my computer that says, “To begin, begin.” I am uncertain who penned this powerful phrase, but it’s impactful. Thinking is not doing. And, most importantly, knowing is not doing. Sometimes we know what we ought to do, yet fail to actually do it. In order to spiritually grow, we have to begin the process. That’s something we do. God shows up when we get started.