Leading ourselves and others to Spiritual Growth
John Ortberg defines Spiritual Growth simply as ‘becoming God’s best version of you’. Every so often, we catch a glimpse of the person we were made to be. We connect, momentarily, with the person we really are…we do something, or say something, or feel something, and we get the flash of an insight that this is the real me…the me I was created to be. It’s as if, for an instant, the electric current is turned on and we ‘light up’.
Spiritual growth is a process of discovery…a journey we are on to discover and become ‘God’s best version’ of us. We so often misunderstand spiritual growth – we measure it in terms of what we are achieving.
If someone were to ask us, ‘How are things going in your spiritual life?’, then most likely, we would do a quick mental inventory along the lines of, ‘Am I reading the Bible? Am I praying? Am I serving? Am I tithing?’ and we would use these as measurements of the state of our spiritual life. While all these things are important, they are not measures of our spiritual health. After all, Jesus once pointed to a Pharisee who was busy assessing the state of his spiritual life in just those terms:
“The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else. For I don’t cheat, I don’t sin, and I don’t commit adultery. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.” (Luke 18:11, 12 NLT).
Jesus pointed out that, of the two, it was the tax collector, not the pharisee, who went home justified before God.
If Spiritual growth is not a matter of obeying more and more rules, what is it and how do we measure it?
Spiritual growth is the journey of our spiritual lives, moving towards discovering and becoming the person God created us to be. Only God knows exactly what that looks like, and it is the journey of our lives to discover it too.
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)
As we discover and recognise more and more of God’s handiwork; as we discover our true selves, we grow closer to Him. You won’t change who you are, you will become the best version of who you are. St Paul turned from an outspoken opponent of Christianity to an eloquent spokesperson for Christianity. Moses as a young man became involved in a dispute between two Hebrew slaves to try to bring about a just settlement. He later, in God’s hands, became the one who delivered the Law to the Israelite nation.
The best version of you is something you have likely already caught a glimpse of. The journey God has for you is designed to help you become that person all the time.
Because you are unique, God’s best version of you will be unique. Therefore, there is no ‘one size fits all’ version of spiritual growth. For some, solitude and reflection lead you to become God’s best version of you. For others, God’s best version comes out of community and busyness and activity. You can never measure your spiritual growth against someone else’s, because your best version of you is different to their best version of them. The goal of your life is to be fully alive; to experience life in all its fullness. To be fully alive is to experience God’s best version of you.
What stands in the way of becoming God’s best version of us? Three mistakes that we spend our lives striving to fulfil: The ‘me’ I think I should be, the ‘me’ other people want me to be, the ‘me’ I mistakenly think God wants me to be. Who does God really want you to be? He wants you to be the best possible version of the person He created. How do we become that person? Is that even possible? St Paul thought so – he wrote,
“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion…” (Philippians 1:6, NIV).
Notice who began the good work, and who carries it on to completion. Spiritual growth is not about how much we do, but about how much we allow God to do in our lives. It is about surrender… surrendering more of ourselves and our agenda and our lives to God’s Holy Spirit. The more we surrender, the more space the Holy Spirit has to continue the good work of uncovering the best version of us. And so, although this journey is unique, it is a journey of choices – choices that God places before each one of us.
To encourage us to flourish on the journey towards being the best possible version of us, God places choices in our path. We are free to make the choice that we want – the choice that coincides with the me I think I ought to be, the me other people want me to be, the me I think a god of rules and religion would probably want of me. Or, the choice that helps me to become the best possible version of me, that leads me to discover and live life in all its fulness.
- Sheep Among Wolves Volume II
Documentary film of Christian growth in Iran
Youtube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9SAPOLKF59U
- Kingfisher 2020 Vision Talk
Choosing to become Spirit-filled, ‘Dust-of-your-rabbi’ disciples, obedient to the Great Commission
kingfisherfamily.org – click on resources, then Youtube.
Embrace the pause:
The twelve key choices that lead to God’s best version of us:
1 Choose life
“Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make” (Deuteronomy 30:19)
2 Choose surrender
“But if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve.” (Joshua 24:15
3. Choose the narrow path
“Who are those who fear the Lord? He will show them the path they should choose” (Psalm 25:12)
4 Choose to love God
“Choose to love the Lord your God and to obey Him and commit yourself to Him, for He is your life.” (Deuteronomy 30:20)
5 Choose to be faithful
“I have chosen to be faithful; I have determined to live by your laws.” (Psalm 119:30)
6 Choose understanding
“Choose my instruction rather than silver, and knowledge over pure gold.” (Proverbs 8:10)
7 Choose legacy
“Teach your children to obey the
right path., and when they are older they will remain on it.” (Proverbs 22:6)
8 Choose a godly lifestyle
“Choose a good reputation over great riches, for being held in high esteem is better than having silver or gold.” (Proverbs 22:1)
9 Choose obedience
“Don’t you realise that whatever you choose to obey becomes your master? You can choose sin which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God and receive His approval.” (Romans 6:16)
10 Choose to listen
“You will hear a voice say, ‘This is
the way, turn around and walk here.’” (Isaiah 30:21)
11 Choose to be a pilgrim
“Dear brothers and sisters, you are foreigners and aliens here. So I warn you to keep away from evil desires because they fight against you very souls.” (1 Peter 2:11)
12 Choose focus
“Don’t get sidetracked; keep. Your feet from following evil.” (Proverbs 4:27)