I've been thinking a lot about growth recently. Specifically I’ve been focusing on personal growth and growing in Christ.
In reviewing 2017, it felt as though I had learned nothing new. Or at least, the things that I had learned were not being put into action.
I remember when I was pregnant with my son I would go on www.babycenter.com every week to see what the baby should look like and what was happening to him in the womb.
After he was born I would check the site to see what developmental changes I should expect. I was very concerned that he was developing at a pace consistent with his peers.
Unfortunately, as an adult, there’s no “adult-center.com” to give us a benchmark of what can be expected as we increase in age. Typically once we get past age 18, our development is noted in generalities:
‘Your twenties will be the time to “find yourself”’.
‘In your thirties you will begin to “settle down”’.
Obviously the older we get the less physical signs of growth we’ll see. How then do we determine if we are growing?
Why is it important to grow once we get to adulthood?
Let me ask you this: do you know persons who you think are boring or bored? Have you ever met a Christian who seemed “stuck” in a particular phase, unable to move forward?
One possible explanation could be a lack of growth in that person.
‘Well, come on already!’ You’re probably shouting. ‘What do you mean by growth?’
The dictionary answer is that growth is the process of increasing in size, progressive development or evolution.
After a certain age, the only growth some of us experience is in our waistlines. A growth that we definitely don’t want!
For an adult, ‘progressive development’ or personal growth, means that there is an increase in self-awareness, time and energy are spent developing talents.
It means that you’re working on career advancement or trying to earn and save more money. One of the main things we focus on will be trying to enhance the quality of our life, and if you haven't already, having a family becomes really important to you.
As a Christian it goes a step further. Not only should you be focused on developing the skill you already have and learning new ones, it now becomes necessary to increase in the things of God.
In I Corinthians 3:1-3, Paul tells the believers:
‘Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual, but as worldly—as infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for solid food. In fact, you are still not ready, for you are still worldly'
This part is the easier of the two but it requires a level of commitment.
Spend some time figuring out your level of contentment. Is there any area of your life that you consistently complain about? What do you want to change?
What are the skills that you would like to improve?
How’s your self-esteem and sense of self-worth?
What are the things that your friends and family members would like to see you improve?
How about at work? What things can you improve there?
Once you’ve identified these areas make a plan to improve. This may mean taking a course. Learning everything you can on YouTube and the internet. (Check out this post for places to learn new things for free.)
It may mean getting professional help. It may mean listening to the feedback from people who know you and acting on them.
This one is a little harder. The first step is to figure out where you are in the journey. You may have been a believer for many years but you remain a spiritual baby.
Is there someone in your church who could serve as a spiritual mentor? Are there programs at your church for new believers or those who would like to have a deeper relationship with God?
Evaluate the time you spend in worship. How much time are you spending with God? How often do you read your Bible? Do you understand what you read?
What steps are you taking to gain a deeper understanding of the things of God?
How often do you pray?
Are there any books that you could purchase or read to increase your awareness is an a particular area? How’s your service?
Are you giving back to the church? What areas in the church do you offer your service? Maybe you need to get involved in a ministry.
Maybe you change the one that you’ve been involved with. Ask your pastor or a senior member of the church for feedback on where they think you would be a good fit. Or, just spend time in each department of your church until you find the right fit.
I know. It can be overwhelming but it’s growing that adds flavor to your life.
One final piece of advice: break down the things you want to work on in 30 day increments. At the beginning of each month choose a new area and commit to doing it until the end of the month.
Will everything be resolved in 30 days? Probably not. But the time will pass whether you choose to do anything specific to increase your personal or spiritual development or not.
If you decide to do something with the time you will have worked on improving one are of your life.
‘A wise man will hear and increase in learning, And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel’ Proverbs 1:5 NIV