How does a person grow? Specifically, for followers of Jesus, how does a person grow spiritually?
Another word for growth is sanctification — that supernatural process by which the Holy Spirit takes the Word of God and forms us into Christ’s image. Growth is primarily a work that God does in us — I can’t, essentially, make myself grow.
And yet you can’t escape the New Testament’s overwhelming pulse that God commands us to intentionally pursue Him, that growth is, in some ways, our job as Christians.
There are quite a few texts that illuminate this, but 1 Timothy 4:7 comes to mind. Paul here tells us to “discipline ourselves to godliness.” In other words, yes the Holy Spirit does the work in us, but we also will not grow if our Christian life consists of us sitting on the couch and waiting for growth to happen.
So how do we grow? What are the tools God uses?
That question could fill up a year’s worth of blog posts. It certainly has motivated the writing of many books, sermons, etc. But maybe a better question is this: What are some ways to ensure that we DON’T grow spiritually?
5 ways to ensure that you will NOT grow spiritually
1. Don’t Be Intentional About Your Spiritual Life.
I’m amazed at how little Christians prioritize their spiritual growth.
If you treat church as something you do if you can feel like it, then don’t be surprised if you don’t “get fed” at the place you worship. If you don’t intentionally pursue knowledge about God through reading of good books and listening to good podcasts, don’t be surprised at a lack of spiritual fruit.
If you don’t prioritize a study of God’s Word, prayer and the spiritual disciplines, you will not see continued growth. You will stay the same.
If you don’t want to grow in Christ, make sure your spiritual life is something that gets the leftovers of your time and energy and effort. Make sure you never read a book that makes you get out a dictionary. Feed your soul on the light fare and the junk food.
2. Always Hang Out With People Just Like You.
One of the ways God stretches us is by placing us with people who are radically different from us.
We live in a world of radical individualization and, if you are not careful, this can creep into your life, especially as you get older and more secure in your worldview.
You’ll be tempted to hang out only with people who agree with you and reinforce your own biases. This will ensure that you have the exact same opinion on every single issue as you did five years ago. It will also keep you from being exposed to people from differing cultures, tribes and perspectives.
If you don’t want to grow, keep looking for friends, churches, associations, blogs, books that just tell you what you like to hear all the time. Make sure you never have conversations with people who disagree with you, radically. Yeah, do that. This is a real growth killer.