As we start this new year, I thought it would be a good idea to bring a challenge for spiritual growth. I just read this great article from a fellow blogger named Gary Rohrmayer and wanted to share it here. The article offers a great, practical means of disiplines that facilitate spiritual growth.
How To Develop A Biblical Plan For Spiritual Growth
Woody Allen once said, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.” I find this both humorous and sad. Humorous in a pessimistic way but sad in a spiritually shallow way.
What would God’s reaction be towards the goals and plans we have set out for our lives? Would he approve them, laugh at them or cry over them.
In order to develop a solid spiritual growth plan we must recognize the biblical ingredients for such a plan. As I toured the wisdom literature of scripture I discovered some great truths for developing a solid biblical plan for spiritual growth.
Five Essentials for a Personal Growth Plan
1. Our plans must be God centered.
“Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” Proverbs 16:3
Our plans come out of our relationship with God. When God redeemed us it meant he bought us back at a great price – the death of His own Son, Jesus. So our lives are not our own. Doing our own thing leads to estrangement from God, but seeking God’s ways leads to great intimacy and awareness of God in all we do. Solomon wrote, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10) The key to living life skillfully and with perspective comes out of our relationship with God.
2. Our plans must be aligned with God’s purposes.
“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21
What is God’s purpose? Where do we find His marching orders for our lives?
Solomon concluded it this way, “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.” Ecclesiastes 12:13
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:29-31
When we think of purpose we must take a close look at the Great Commission passages, Matthew 28:16-20; Mark 16:15 ; Luke 24:46-49; John 20:21 and Acts 1:8. It is here we discover the marching orders of Jesus. He calls us to be a part of his great redemptive purpose. Recent surveys have revealed that 60-70% of those who call themselves followers of Jesus don’t think they need to be engaged in evangelistic activities.
We are called to love God and others within His mission. This is why I love the missional language and why I have infused the concept of Living Missionally into my writings.
3. An honest assessment must take place.
“For your ways are in full view of the LORD, and he examines all your paths.” Proverbs 5:21
“Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.” Proverbs 4:26
“Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the LORD.” Lamentations 3:40
When I developed the Spiritual Journey Guide I wanted to provide a picture of what it meant to be a spiritually mature follower of Jesus. If leaders don’t define spiritual maturity in their churches the definition will always drift to “Who has the most bible knowledge?” Now bible knowledge is important, we need to know the commands of Jesus in order to obey them, but bible knowledge without transformation will always lead to Pharisaical Christianity.
This is where the concept of living missionally was developed for me. I believe the goal of every follower of Jesus is to love God and to love others, all within the context of God’s redemptive mission. I’ve narrowed down six areas of life that help us evaluate how well we are living within God’s mission.
Craves intimacy with God through spiritual disciplines – Devotional Life (Mark 12:29-31)
Shares their faith effectively with others – Evangelism (Philemon 6)
Mentoring others spiritually – Discipleship (Matthew 28:19-20)
Gives generously – Stewardship (II Corinthians 8:7)
Serves in their community – Servanthood & Compassion (Mark 10:45)
Understands the centrality of the gospel – Character Transformation (Titus 2:11-14)
By assessing your spiritual life around these six areas you can easily develop a focused spiritual growth plan that seeks to fully or more fully work out these areas in your life and relationships.
4. Wise mentors need to be secured.
“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” Proverbs 15:22
“Plans are established by seeking advice…” Proverbs 20:18
The craze for personal coaching and mentoring really stems from the fact that we have moved from the Information Age to an Age of Implementation. We are so overwhelmed every day with the barrage of information that we struggle with applying it into our lives. This is where a mature wise mentor or experienced coach comes into play to provide accountability, encouragement, and insight while helping you grow in your spiritual your life.
5. Work out your plan diligently but not hastily.
“The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.” Proverbs 21:5
Have you ever responded emotionally to a situation and made a reckless commitment? Solomon’s advice is that we don’t want to just jump into something but we want to thoughtfully develop a spiritual plan by seriously considering and reflecting on points 1-4. I strongly encourage people to put their plan in writing because you need to think it, then ink it, if you are going to achieve it.
For instance, my January goals all have to do with recharging and expanding my devotional habits. Last year I focused my goals around the discipline of fasting. I read two books on fasting which took my practice of fasting to a whole new level. I practiced several types of fasts throughout the year. I wrote a devotional guide on fasting and recruited over 100 people to join me for a 31-Day Daniel Fast.
This year my focus for January is on my prayer life. Focusing on upgrading my daily prayer rhythms, expanding intercessory practices, reinstalling my monthly prayer retreats, finding a prayer partner for accountability and reading a devotional on prayer that will expand, inspire and challenge my prayer life. This month I am reading Prayer A Holy Occupation by Oswald Chambers.
All of us need a plan because there is no arrival point as long as we are traveling in this world, there will always be areas of growth needed.
The Apostle Peter wrote, “Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.” II Peter 3:17-18