Tuesday, April 18, 2006

How To Have Spiritual Growth In Your Life - Part One - Seek Perfection

“All my life as a musician, I have striven for perfection. It has always eluded me. I surely had an obligation to make one more try.” Verdi

Quotes like these can make an incredible impression on you if you allow them to. If you mind ever gets really stretched by a new idea or new vision, it will never return to its original dimensions.

If I am not growing then I am declining. Those who quit reaching for perfection will find themselves being kidnapped by the urgent and the insignificant. This soon leads to a spiritual shallowness. This shallowness, with the progression of time, will erode the greatness out of the soul.

The question is posed, “How does one obtain such a desire toward perfection?” This desire is never easy and will always be just out of our grasp. But as we strive toward that mark that has been set up before us, great growth of the soul will occur.

These are a few of the steps that I believe helps to stretch us beyond the present and the now.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn -- “The meaning of earthly existence lies not, as we have grown used to thinking, in prospering but in the development of the soul.”

1. Put yourself on a plan for spiritual fitness.

I am amazed at the record keeping of some of my friends in the medical community. Last summer, three of these fellows were training for a triathlon which involved: swimming one mile, running 10 kilometers, and biking for 50 kilometers. Two of these men are in the early training stages for an Ironman (swimming 2.5 miles, running a 26.2 mile marathon, and biking 100 miles). Their personal records kept a multitude of stats. They kept up with all of their nutritional intake, fluids they had consumed, miles they had swam, kilometers they had ran, and the distances on their bikes. With this series of records they could see exactly how much progress or lack thereof they had made in the last week, month, and year. I was very impressed with their meticulous records.

Spiritual growth and maturity does not simply take place by osmosis. Spiritual growth and development will not take place simply because you decided to go to a personal retreat, a revival conference, or any other event. Our generation is very “event” oriented and not very much oriented toward “action.” I have attended one major conference this year and one major men’s event and both of them were extremely inspiring to me. The key word being “inspiring.” However, until I could track my time and my own personal growth after these two events then I had simply wasted my money.

Spiritual growth and maturity occurs when we do more than just show up for “church.” Spiritual growth and maturity occurs when you stretch your brain and your lifestyle into more than just “showing up.” On the other hand, I also know that inspiration without instruction will lead to frustration. I am endeavoring in the next few days to bring some plan of instruction to you that will help you grow beyond your current place now.

I am unwilling to place a yoke of legalism on your life but at the same time, we track our prayer life by a measure of the minutes that we spend in prayer. I am unwilling to place a heavier yoke of guilt on you but time spent in the Word is going to equate into how many chapters that you have read and studied. If you are not writing either in the margins of your Bible or in a separate notebook, you are fooling yourself, because you are not studying, you are simply reading. There is a vast difference!

Furthermore, I do not want to strap your budget, but if you are not buying and reading good challenging books to assist your spiritual growth, you are turning into a Big Mac or a Whopper. You may say that you love God, but your budget betrays you. Appleby’s, Ruby Tuesdays, IHOP, Outback, and Chili’s is clogging your arteries and choking your soul.

The internet has also allowed for us to tap into tremendous spiritual growth tools. For example, Google “spiritual growth” and see where that takes you.

So how do you develop a plan for spiritual growth? I am so glad you asked!!! Go to Walmart and buy a cheap monthly planner and then determine what you will do with the 168 hours every week that is allotted to you. Presidents and paupers all have the same amount of time given to them. Some of the time will be necessary for work and sleep and eating but the rest of this time should be judiciously spent. Time is the coin of life don’t let a fool spend it for you.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What hour each day will I spend on cultivating my soul?
  • How much time am I willing to set aside for daily prayer?
  • How many people am I going to positively influence this week?
  • What am I going to say to these people when I interact with them?
  • Who am I discipling at this present time? If I am not helping someone else grow, then why not?
  • Am I willing to make God the center of my life and never allow Him to live on the periphery of my life?

I have a friend of mine (a pastor) who sits down on the 20th day of every month and takes several hours on that day to map out his priorities for the coming month. In addition, he also re-evaluates his progress from last month. When we are willing to commit things like this to “hard copy” and honestly evaluate our progress. . . . then progress happens.

Commit your progress to written records. A few days ago, I mentioned to my wife (in a very serious conversation) that I wanted to preach through the Bible before I died. She told me that she thought that I had made major headway on that goal the last two times that I had preached. Yet on a more serious note, if such a goal is going to be in my life, I must know where I have preached and what I have left to preach. This is where keeping records is crucial.

Write it down!!!! From personal experience, I can tell you that this will be both encouraging and also it will be discouraging. But you need to see the big picture, if it overall is positive then keep going. . . . If the big picture is needing work, then make the proper adjustments and grow a great soul.

I will continue this trend of thought over the next several days. . . . .

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

This article is thought provoking.

I had a former boss who left me with one quote I will never forget. "You get what you Measure"

I look forward to reading more on this series!

Anonymous said...

I write down my prayer times.My notes remind me if I am slipping on my time with God. Thank you for reminding us of what is important.

Bro T said...

It is amazing to me how the sands of time slip by so often without our knowlege or attention. Time is a gift that all of us tend to waste on a regular basis. Thanks for the wake up to reality...