Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Three “S’s” of Spiritual Growth

You probably don’t have this problem. I’m sure you don’t. Because most of the time I’m fairly certain that just about every Christian in the world is more spiritual than I am.

Seriously. I sit in church and compare myself to the mom down the row with the perfect husband and the perfect children who sit so perfectly and who are all dressed so perfectly. She’s so perfect I can’t even stand myself sitting near her.

I’m sure she has perfect quiet times and never raises her voice to her children (let alone her husband!) and all is right with the Lord. And her. Because she’s perfect.

But me? I sometimes wonder how God picked me to follow Him because I just don’t seem to get it right so often. And sometimes I really wonder whether I’m really growing, spiritually speaking, because I just feel so . . . unspiritual.

It’s a conundrum.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. Wondering what to do when I feel like I’m not growing as much as I should. And I’ve realized that there are a couple of things that really help.

Study. The times I’ve really grown the most are the times I’ve really dug into God’s word. Studied it. Pondered it. Let it seep down into my bones.

I’ve been in a Bible study at my church for many years now, but for a lot of years (especially when my kids were younger) I was kind of sporadic about attending. I often felt like I wasn’t good enough to be there, or that I didn’t know enough about the Bible. Sometimes it was just easier to stay home. Or to go to work.

(Hey, I’m being brutally honest here. Don’t judge.)

But when I finally decided to get serious about studying the Bible and to learn more about who God says He is through His word, I’ve realized that I actually like Him. I’ve even grown to love Him more.

And the best way I’ve found to get to know God is to study what He has to say to me, personally, in the Bible. Now I actually help other women study the Bible, and I’ve found that I love studying it more than ever.

Serve. You’re probably wondering how serving others can make me grow spiritually, but it goes something like this: when I give love, I receive love. The more I receive, the more I want to give. And so on . . . and so on . . . and so on.

Kind of like the Breck commercial.

So when I’m loving on the junior high girls and I see them “get it” about God or I hear them ask amazing questions about their faith, it encourages me to keep going. Or when I do mundane tasks for the missionaries I serve, like buying a new vacuum for their house, I see how much it is needed and the respite it gives them, and I want to love them more.

We touch lives when we serve, and for me, doing this causes me to love God more.

Did you notice how each of these things, study and service, are not at all about me? Study focuses on God, and service focuses on others. There’s nothing about “me” in any of it.

And yet, when I do these things I am the beneficiary. My spiritual life grows.

Chances are, when I am missing one of these two elements of spiritual growth, I become the third “S”: Stagnant. Usually when my faith is out of whack, when I’m feeling a little funky about following Jesus, it’s because I’m not studying or serving . . . or both. My faith has become all about me—what I’m getting out of it—and that’s just plain selfish. (Hey! There’s another “S”!)

How about you? How do you get out of a spiritual rut? What have you found that helps you grow?



  1. You're a genius!

    Oh, and I have that same problem looking at other people and thinking their lives are perfect.

  2. Wow! A genius?! I'm pretty sure that's never been said about me before. Thanks, Linda! You made my day.

  3. My spiritual growth letter is "C" for coffee. I'm not kidding. When I started drinking coffee in the morning, I began a ritual and one thing led to another. As I drink my coffee, I do a Bible study or write in a prayer journal or sit quietly before the Lord... so... yeah... in my spiritual equation: coffee = growth

  4. That's awesome, Hillcrest! I totally get that. :)

  5. A winning combo . . . study and service. And I agree . . . coffee or tea.

    I heard Beth Moore say once that her two favorite sounds were - Bible pages turning and coffee pouring and if they happened at the same time, even better.

    Great post, Shelly.

  6. To get out of a spiritual rut I pray and read my Bible. Reading almost always leads to delving into something specific from the Word.

  7. Thanks, Glenda--love that Beth Moore quote!

    Mari!!! Hello, girl! How are you? Great to see you. And, yes, prayer too. Absolutely.

  8. Hi lovely,

    I wonder if everyone secretly peeks at other people and thinks that they're better than they are in one way or another....and they probably are better in some ways. But I try to remember that God has made me just as I am, and that when I need to improve, he'll let me know...as he often does. Ha!!!

    Thank you for your honesty and openess....I have to say that you're EXACTLY the kind of woman that I think I would look at and think *I* had a LOT to learn from!


  9. You're so right Shelly. And, by the way, no one is perfect. But you knew that. We just forget it when we look at other people sometimes. I do too.

    When I grow spiritually stagnant, as I did just recently, I find it usually helps to just take that one step of obedience...whatever it may be...to have that quiet time first thing in the morning, to choose to read my Bible instead of watching Good Morning America, to turn off Facebook for a while, whatever it might be that I feel God telling me to do in my spirit. One step of obedience leads to another and before I know it I'm walking in step with Him again.

    Thanks for your insight. Hey could you pray for me? Can't really go into detail, but I just need some friends to lift my name up to the God of the universe for me. I appreciate it :)