Growth is not accidental. It has to be a purpose-driven activity. If a church is going to grow, the church’s leadership needs definitive goals and the members need to be 110% supportive of the leadership as they work toward those goals. If a marriage is going to grow, the husband must have definitive goals and his wife must be 110% supportive of his leadership as they work toward those goals. If an athletic team is going to grow, their coaches must have definitive goals and the players must be 110% supportive of their leadership as they work toward those goals.
But what about individual growth? How does that work? What if a person wants to grow as a Christian? What’s the two-part plan for that kind of growth? Are we each completely on our own?
Though it may sound trite or cliche, it is important to remember that every Christian works with God in achieving purposeful spiritual growth. It is God who sets the goals, and each of us is responsible for being 110% supportive and obedient of the goals He has set for us.
There is a problem, however. That may sound very simple, but in reality there are a great many hindrances to spiritual growth. Every Christian of any maturity has had the thought, “I’m not really growing as a Christian like I should. I should be doing more.” So what’s holding so many back?
It has been observed that the single greatest obstacle to a person’s spiritual growth is that person. Selfishness — an unreasonable focus on self — is one of the greatest hindrances to personal improvement. Selfishness breeds fear, which keeps us from taking risks, stepping out of our comfort zone, and making ourselves open to others. Selfishness breeds control issues, for we are afraid that if we allow someone else to be in control, he or she will not do what is best for me. Constantly having our thoughts focused on self narrows our perspective, encumbers our ability to bless others, and stunts our growth.
Jesus observed that people do not “light a lamp and put it under a basket” (Matt. 5:15), and in the same way, people do not plant a seed in soil and then cover that soil with a brick patio. The brick can only hinder and eventually destroy the plant’s attempts to grow. Some people allow the heavy weight of their selfish concerns to press down on them in a way even harder than a pile of bricks pressing down on a small seedling. It takes a concerted effort and a lot of selflessness to completely put our trust in God. And it takes an extraordinary amount of love to do so. When we allow ourselves to be selfless and “let go and let God,” then shall come to pass the saying that is written, “Perfect love casts out fear.”
–Submitted by Dan Lankford