The apostle Paul calls us and challenges us to grow spiritually:
Hebrews 5:12-14 (ESV) For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. Growth is vital to all of life.
Corporations that stop growing eventually die to competitors that are growing. Even the universe continues its expansion. In every endeavor, we always strive for perfection. So too in our spiritual life, we must grow and expand our gifts and abilities. This is expected as we are made in the image and likeness of God who is infinite.
Some time ago, I was assisting Pastor Barry with the Parents of Teens ministry. One Sunday, Pastor Jim got sick shortly before giving his sermon and asked Barry to fill in, leaving no one to teach in Parents of Teens. Barry approached me and said, “Steve, here’s my notes. Please fill in for me as I do the same for Pastor Jim today.” It was a deciding moment as I prayed for strength and guidance. The Holy Spirit delivered. The class went well, and I grew that day as I overcame my fear of public speaking. God allowed me to grow in this ability and use a gift I didn’t even know I had. It was a joy to serve with Barry in the Parents of Teens ministry, sharing life with many other parents in a similar life stage.
Another ministry I’m excited about is REACH (Renton Ecumenical Association of Churches) which relies on faith-based, dedicated volunteers serving hot meals for up to 70 homeless and needy patrons in Renton on a regular basis. I had been helping my neighbor in REACH when a Highlands small group began serving with REACH. Their coordinator left, and the Lord put in front of me an open door to serve. And again, the Lord allowed me to develop a gift for coordinating and encouraging I didn’t realize I had.
Growth normally comes in small increments. Companies rarely bet the farm on new products but test them first to see if they bear fruit. Amazon is a master of this. Martin Luther King’s famous speech was the result of many years of honing his message and delivery.
Philippians 1:6 (ESV) And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
And so it is with spiritual growth. The Lord will never put us in a position He does not think we can handle.
Here at Highlands we use a spiritual growth model of partnering, observing, teaching and doing. (Building a Discipling Culture, Breen, 2011, 3DM). Are you young in your faith and want to grow in your spiritual walk? Partner with someone who’s gone before you and is willing to teach by example. Then do what they do. Are you a long-time believer and want to grow? Mentor someone to help him or her grow and so will you.
Most of all, pray and ask the Holy Spirit what borders of your life the He wants you to extend and enlarge. It’s when we face a challenge, ask the Holy Spirit for guidance, and act on that guidance that we experience growth, so we can bring the hope and healing of the gospel to our broken world.