Growing my faith, my relationship with God, is my top priority. Above all else, my relationship with Christ must come first. Everything else in my life hinges upon this. But in order to do that, you have to develop a series of disciplines that will help you grow and mature in your faith.
As a minister, all too often, I have conversations that center around how to grow and mature in our faith. I have discovered that most people have no idea what to do to deepen their faith. Most of the people I have these conversations with want to deepen their faith, they just aren’t sure how to go about doing that.
As a result, I’ve decided to write a series of posts about spiritual disciplines. These are habits that I believe are necessary to grow in our faith. These are habits that are either prominent in Scripture, or have been proven through the lives of other, spiritually mature believers.
Not everyone grows in the same fashion or speed. What might be a breeze to one person may be a difficult discipline to master for another. But I firmly believe that each of these disciplines play a part in our becoming who God has created us to be.
Over the course of the next few weeks and months, I will be writing a series of posts about these disciplines. Each post (or posts, maybe) will define each discipline, and give some practical ideas on how to implement this effectively in our lives.
By nature, these will be fairly brief overviews. Books could be, and have been written on each of these topics. My intent is not to recreate a lot of that material, but to give some resources that can be used to help deepen your faith, as these disciplines have deepened mine.
The inner life is something that too many of us neglect. We purchase gym memberships for the physical body. We educate ourselves, sometimes through graduate and post-graduate levels, for the mental portion of our lives. But when it comes to the spiritual aspect of our reality, we find it sufficient to attend church each Sunday, maybe even on Wednesdays, and we get our spiritual fill-up at those times.
That simply is not enough.
If we are to grow in our faith, we must be as intentional about it as we are with our other goals, physical, mental, relational, or otherwise. The inner being, though neglected, is perhaps the most important part of who we are. After all, we are created as spiritual beings. Our bodies will grow old and die. Our minds will grow feeble and forgetful. But the spiritual part of us is eternal.
So why do we ignore it?
I believe that if we strive to make these disciplines a reality in our lives, we will see significant spiritual growth.
These are not cut and dried, formulaic patterns, where if you do this, you’ll get that. But just like anything else in our lives, when we focus and practice something intentionally and repeatedly, it will become stronger, we will become better at it. In short, we will grow.
As a youth minister, I always used the illustration of tennis. I don’t know why. I don’t play tennis. I don’t watch tennis. I have no desire to do either. But if I wanted to become a great tennis player, I would need to learn the principles of the game. And I would need to practice. I would have to continue to do these things, and in time, I would become competent, become more adept, and eventually master the game. Perhaps I would never win a championship, but I would have a skill in the game that others do not, because I applied myself to learning and growing.
The same is true with our spiritual disciplines. The more we apply them in to our lives, the more we practice them, the stronger our skills will become, and the deeper our faith will grow.
Over the years, I’ve read several books on this topic, and I’ve identified a list of several disciplines that I think we should consider. Some of my thoughts have been shaped by two books in particular: Ordering Your Private World, by Gordon MacDonald, and Celebration of Discipline, by Richard Foster. Each of these have played a valuable role in teaching me to develop spiritual disciplines. Much of what I will share have been developed in my life because of these two books, which I read years ago.
But my growth in this didn’t stop after I read these books. Instead, I took the disciplines I was introduced to by these books, and implemented them, tweaking them to fit my life, growing in them to become stronger in my faith because of them.
Those are the things I want to share with you in this series.
Here is a partial list of the topics I plan to cover. As this series progresses, I will probably add to this list. And I will return here and add links as each post is written. This page will serve as a landing page of sorts for the entire series.
- Reading The Bible
- Bible Study (More than just reading)
- Developing Healthy Priorities
- Serving Others
- Developing A Life Plan
- Personal Retreat Days
- Reading Good Books
- Mentoring Others
I realize this is a lot of disciplines to take in. But I have learned that each of these, to one degree or another, is essential in my life for me to become the person God has created me to be. And I’m fairly certain that I will add a few others to this list as it goes on.
I’ve found each of these to be very beneficial in my life. I hope that you will find them helpful as well.
Question: What other spiritual disciplines would you add to this list? You can leave a comment by clicking here.