Sadly many leaders fall into the same trap too. They are diligent, they learn, they adapt, they innovate and then when they reach that position of leadership, they stop, they coast, and ultimately they decline and usually so does the ministry or the organization that they are leading. Nelson Searcy, a Pastor and Leadership Coach from Manhattan has said, “If you are in the same place as you were a year ago, your ministry will be in the same place too!” For those in leadership that ought to scare us into action. But the same is true for husbands, wives, fathers and mothers. If we are not growing eventually we will find ourselves in danger of stalling out.
I believe that it is imperative that every follower of Jesus Christ be deliberate and intentional about growing, and growing in their walk with Christ in particular.
Here are a few thoughts on why you need to be intentional about getting unstuck and taking the next step in your spiritual growth:
1. Growth does not happen by accident.
Often times people will be critical of the idea of having a Spiritual Growth plan. They will insist that it is too mechanical, somehow thinking that automatically makes it fake. Yet we make plans for everything else that we take seriously from “to do lists” to travel itineraries and diets. It isn’t said for no reason, "if you fail to plan, you plan to fail." Intentional Growth takes intentionality!
2. It is the responsibility of every individual believer to invest in their Spiritual Growth.The Apostle Paul tells Timothy to "train yourself for godliness" (1 Tim 4:7). And he writes to the church in Philippi exhorting them:
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Phil 2:12-13)
We are to deliberately and actively cooperate and yes, even work in partnership with the Holy Spirit for our sanctification.
3. Others are watching our example!If you are a parent, your children are looking to you to set the example for them. If you are a spiritual couch potato there is a good chance they will grow up to believe that Christianity is pointless and irrelevant - because that is what you're communicating!
But it's not just our kids, when we don't take the Christian life seriously, why would we ever expect our unbelieving neighbors and coworkers to ever do so?
4. None of us will arrive until we arrive!
The only time that a follower of Jesus Christ can stop growing is when we stand before Him face to face - because only then will be be complete! Actually, even then I believe that we will spend all eternity learning with utter amazement in the presence of His unsearchable greatness.
5. We will all give an account!
In Matthew 25:14-30 Jesus speaks of a master who entrusts a different amount of money (talents) to 3 servants. The first one receives 5 talents and puts them to work and makes 5 more. The second servant receives 2 talents and after putting them to work makes 2 more. The third servant is given 1 talent, but he does nothing with it. After some time, when the master returns he calls all 3 servants to give an account. He praises and rewards the first two but to the third he says, "You wicked and slothful servant!" That servant is stripped of the 1 talent that he does have and is cast out.
Everyone of us has been entrusted a certain number of days on this earth, certain gifts, certain resources and abilities, and there is coming a day when we will give an account of how we used them. "I was busy watching TV" won't cut it. I for one want to hear "Well done good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master."
6. The best is yet to come!
A Christian who puts there faith in Jesus Christ and never grows is like a person who goes to concert, enjoys the warm-up act and leaves before the headliner ever gets on stage. Coming to faith in Christ is a truly amazing thing, but even that pales in comparison to growing toward maturity in Him, to knowing Him more and more. If you are standing still, you are missing out.
So how about it? Are you growing or are you stuck? Are you in the same place that you were a year ago or are you actively pushing forward, deliberately training yourself for godliness?
In part 2 I will be sharing a process for prayerfully and practically developing a 1 year personal growth plan.