3 Simple Steps to Meaningful Spiritual Growth
It was a joy to share these lessons on my recent webinar, 3 Steps to Transforming Spiritual Growth! Below you’ll find links to the slides, along with a step-by-step implementation plan.
If you have any questions about the material on this page, just contact me and let me know how I can help!
After watching the video, work through the steps below
The first step to establishing spiritual growth is to be clear about what you’re trying to achieve. The best way to do this is to set a clear goal. Research indicates that you are 44% more likely to achieve this goal simply by writing it down.
Part 1 – What does God want?
First, establish what God wants of you by reading 1 Peter 2:9 and Romans 8:29. Write down a sentence or two explaining what these verses say is God’s priority for you.
Part 2 – What is your need?
Each of us struggle with the flesh in different ways. How does your flesh wage war against your soul (1 Peter 2:11)? Here are some steps to discover a specific area to work on
- What is your biggest sin? You may be readily able to identify an area of your life that needs to be addressed.
- If you can’t think of anything, take 60 seconds to think about your closest relationship. Our closest relationships often reveal desires and attitudes that are contrary to what God commands. How have your desires and attitudes contributed negatively to this relationship?
- If you still can’t identify an area to work on, or you’re not clear, download this worksheet (full instructions are included), print it off and answer each of the questions using a 1-5 rating scale. Then ask a close friend (preferably a spouse) to give their view (be prepared to hear something you don’t want to hear). You should end up with 2-3 areas where both your views identify areas that need attention. Select one of these
For this latter part, write down what the Bible calls this sin, and what you want to replace it with (Galatians 5:19-23 and Ephesians 4:17-30 should be helpful). Your goal is not simply to stop doing something, but to put on Christ.
Now that you’ve identified these two parts, you should be able to create a goal statement that combines both of these into one. Here is an example
My goal is to grow in holiness, becoming conformed to the likeness of Christ by putting off my anger and replacing it with gentleness and kindness.
Write your own goal in your own words. It is important to personalize this.
To make this goal a reality, we need to work at it regularly. This requires that we regard the process of growth as a journey made of multiple steps. So long as we keep taking steps, we will make progress on the journey. If we stop taking steps, so too will we stop growing.
The best way to be consistent and make progress is to install a habit. A habit is created by the repeated firing of the same neural pathways in your brain that over time becomes hard wired to repeat. In other words, do the same thing over and over and it will be so easy to repeat that it doesn’t take any thought. When we eliminate thought, we reduce one more way the flesh will try to protect itself (I assume you’ve justified something that was wrong at least once in your life and you know what I’m talking about).
Select a time that you will set aside regularly and plan to make this a time when you can reflect on this goal, and spend time with the Lord and His Word. Below I’ve listed a couple of articles on my blog that might be helpful.
Make a plan that records which days you’ll use for this time, what time it will be and the steps you will plan to put in place to set aside this regular time. Initially (for the first 3 months or so), I recommend you stick rigidly to your plan.
- Habit: I will get up an hour earlier each work day in order to read the Bible and make progress toward my goal.
- Go to bed at 9:30 the night before
- Set my alarm for 5:30am
- Get up as soon as I wake up
- Brush my teeth
- Drink 2 cups of water
- Make coffee
- Sit at the kitchen table with my Bible and Journal
Your plan will obviously look different. The important thing is to think ahead and plan for obstacles and think about what will wake you up (hint: hydration is important).
The best way to achieve a goal like this is to focus on your heart during this time.
Journaling will help you reflect without taking lots of time. Start by using the basic prompts suggested in my quick and easy guide to quiet time journaling. In addition to working with your specific struggle with the flesh, the prompts will help you reflect more on your heart
Don’t feel you have to use these prompts alone. Feel free to add a prompt that will help with your own goal. Below are some examples:
- What can I apply from today’s Bible reading to my anger problem?
- What responses to the Lord are demonstrated in this reading that I need to put on or avoid?
- What consequences of speaking are evident in my reading this morning?
- What desires might lie behind the actions of one of the people I read about today
If you’re prayer life is best described as “under-developed” begin by praying through your responses to the journaling prompts. As you grow in this, add a list of people you would like to pray for. Just a few to begin with, but tell those people you’re praying for them and ask how you can pray for them. You’ll be amazed at how this is a blessing and encouragement to them.
If your goal is to defeat a specific sin, a great approach to reading the Bible that you might want to take is to read through Proverbs, taking in half a chapter each day for two months, or one chapter a day for a month. As you read, take note of the verses that relate to that sin. In your journal write down:
- What consequences do these verses suggest will come from this sin?
- What benefits are contrasted with it?
- What consequences and benefits have I experienced
When you’re done with this, you should have a much richer understanding of both your own heart, its deceptiveness, and the Lord’s view of this sin.
If you don’t have a specific sin, you might want to take this quiz to help you choose a Bible reading plan tailored to your needs. Alternatively, take a look at the Bible Reading plans available in my ultimate guide to the better Bible reading plans.
How much time is necessary?
I recommend starting by setting aside 30 minutes for this habit. Though, feel free to start with 15. If you follow the plan, don’t be surprised if you end up adding to this time. As you confront your heart and expose the flesh, you’ll find this time becomes increasingly rewarding.