Six Steps to Spiritual Growth in 2015, Part One

Photo Credit: A.L.Gibson via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: A.L.Gibson via Compfight cc

The last week of the year is a perfect time to reflect on the year that was and the year the could be. I say “could be” because a fresh year brings fresh possibilities and opportunities. There is a season for everything according to the Preacher in Ecclesiastes 3. The New Year is the season for resolutions. The problem with resolutions, though, is that they often do not stick. In fact, leadership expert Michael Hyatt tells us that twenty-five percent of people abandon their New Year’s resolutions after one week. Moreover, sixty percent of people abandon those resolutions within six months. In fact, it is believed that the average person will make the same resolution ten times without success!

Regardless of the statistics, I believe it is important to make some firm commitments about your spiritual growth for 2015. We are likely to set goals and plans for most areas of our lives including our health, career, and family. Yet, amazingly few people resolve to see anything happen in their lives spiritually. Let me suggest that you make more than just a resolution. Make a plan. One of my favorite sayings from theologian and scholar John Stott is, “Holiness is not a condition into which we drift.” Spiritual growth only happens with intentionality on our part. This is not to say that spiritual growth is possible by our own means. I have friends of a more mystical bent who bristle at the idea of “planning” to grow spiritually. After all, in Renovation of the Heart, Dallas Willard reminds us that, “Christlikesness of the inner being is not a human attainment. It is…a gift of grace.” We must never forget that Jesus told us that apart from Him we could do nothing (John 15:5).

It is my conviction that planning for growth does not negate the fact that it is only the Lord Himself who can effect spiritual change in our lives. It is not our part to create the wind, as some have put it, but it is our job to hoist the sails. On this note, I think we can resonate with Jonathan Edwards, who began his exhaustive list of resolutions like this, “Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God’s help, I do humbly entreat him by his grace to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to his will, for Christ’s sake.”

So, in this special three part series we will explore the basic steps necessary for developing a spiritual growth plan for 2015.

Step One: Reflect. Start by asking yourself some questions. A most helpful list of questions for the new year has been compiled by Don Whitney. I find his questions to challenge me to consider my ways! Spend some time in quiet reflection and even journaling to think about how you would answer these. Another helpful practice is to reflect upon the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. Ask yourself, “Am I more loving? More joyful? More at peace?, etc.” As you reflect on the fruit of the Spirit, ask the Father to direct you to those characteristics where you may need to focus in 2015.

Step Two. Commit. Schedule a daily appointment with the Lord. Include a consistent place and time. Honor this appointment as you would any other. Make time with God a priority not to be compromised. I start my day alone with the Lord. I find that if I begin my days with the Lord I am more likely to spend the time. Plus, I have the whole day ahead to apply what the Lord is saying.

Tomorrow, we will look at planning for immersion in God’s Word.

Read Part Two
Read Part Three