Think back to middle school or heck, even high school year book signing. If you are a girl who graduated anytime near when I did (2006), I can almost guarantee that there is some comment written in there like “never change” “stay sweet” or something else really dumb (but well meant) along those lines. WHAT? How silly would that be, to intentionally STOP growing? Seriously, I REALLY hope that I am not exactly the same person I was when I was 18. One of my biggest “fears” if you will, is that I will remain the same. Because to remain the same means that you’re not growing and that’s a dangerous place for a follower of Christ. Because, you see, to FOLLOW indicates movement, action, forward momentum, duplication.
However, one of the tough things about growth, especially after you are done with your formal education, is that it HAS to be intentional. There are no teachers reminding you to do your assignment. No written tests to ensure that you have learned the material. There are very few life benchmarks that you have to have all the boxes checked to move on. And-newsflash- just because you’ve gotten OLDER doesn’t mean that you’ve grown as a person or gotten wise. If we want to grow, we MUST be intentional about it.
I was blessed enough to attend 2 clinics by the late barrel horse trainer and clinician, Ed Wright. I loved every second of both of them. Randomly, as I was preparing to go to my second one, I happened to mention it to a longtime acquaintance. She replied with “Oh I went to one of his and I didn’t like it. He yelled at me.”
“WHAT?” I thought to myself. “Isn’t that part of the point? I don’t want someone to pat me on the back and tell me I’m doing everything right. I want someone who is further along than I am to tell me how to get better and how to improve. I want a coach who will actually help me up my game.”
But you see, I think too often we take that “he yelled at me” mentality when it comes to our spiritual growth. It’s much easier, much more comfortable to sit and listen to a feel-good sermon that requires no change from you. We want comfortable instead of confrontational. But hear me on this:
The Gospel is confrontational at its core.
The Gospel itself says that we are not good enough on our own. We desperately need a Savior and that requires giving Jesus Lordship over our lives.
Now don’t get me wrong, we don’t need spiritual leaders who berate and belittle us. That is NOT how God instructs us to lead
Proverbs 20:28 “Good leadership is built on love and truth, for kindness and integrity are what keep leaders in their position of trust.”
But we also don’t need spiritual leaders who are back-patters and just condone whatever we choose to do, because that is NOT godly love.
Proverbs 24:11 “Rescue those being led away to death, hold back those staggering toward slaughter.”
Jesus always led with Love, but he was never afraid to speak to the sins that would keep people from finishing well. God is MUCH more concerned with how I finish my race than my momentary comfort.
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10
Our spirit man is INSTANTLY made righteous the second that we make Jesus our Lord and Savior. But after that, there is some serious sanctification-changes that we need to make to look, think, talk, act more like Jesus day by day. And THAT, friends, requires good coaching.
God has to prepare us for the things that He has prepared FOR us so that the gift that is IN us does not destroy us. God may have college level assignments for us, but if we are stuck at a 1st grade level mentality because we are constantly offended or refuse to forgive, we won’t be able to complete those assignments He has for us.
3 Tips for embracing growth and good coaching
1. Read the Word, biblically inspired books, and listen to sermons FOR YOURSELF
I know it’s really tempting to think about what an idiot your friend is being and how badly THEY need to hear/read this and make changes, but don’t.
Instead, ask yourself “How can I apply this message or scripture to live more Christlike?”
2. Don’t just listen to people/read books that make you feel good
Yes, we ALL need encouragement. I need encouragement. “words of affirmation” is my number one love language.
In my experience the best coaches and pastors can offer both a kick in the butt AND encouragement that you can do it.
You don’t necessarily have to know someone in person to receive good coaching from them. Yes, there is most definitely a time and a place for in person discipleship, and one on one coaching. But we can get some AMAZING spiritual coaching from authors and speakers that we have never met simply by purchasing their material and internalizing their messages.
3. Plant yourself in a great Bible teaching local church- IN PERSON
I LOVE listening to sermons on my phone as I go about my day. We have access to more great resources than EVER at our fingertips.
But there is something really refining about being around actual real live, challenging, annoying, loving, wonderful yet imperfect people on a regular basis.
When we make a commitment to show up to and serve in our local church, we get to know, REALLY know people and they get to really know us. It’s easy to put on a perfect face behind a screen but when you are face to face with people who KNOW you, those hurts that we try so hard to cover have a way of coming to the surface SO THAT they can be healed.
We GET to partner with God in the awesome work He is doing in the earth. But if we are not ready because we have spent too much time worrying about our comfort rather than our growth, we are going to miss out on some really incredible stuff that God has for us. Let’s make a commitment to consistent and constant growth in our spiritual development. I think you will be amazed at what God can do in and through you when you are committed to giving him full access to your life.