INERTIA is everything in the spiritual life of growth toward and inward upon God. Without a forward-moving, intentional campaign spiritual growth plateaus and often recedes.
Having hammered a stake in the ground – at salvation, at baptism, at confirmation, or at any significant re-commitment to Jesus – we now trek onward. And we should know that settling for a ‘comfortable’ journey with God is actually not journeying with God at all.
Jesus despises lukewarm Christians. His followers are glowing hot.
Here are key strategies to drive discipleship and purge the old life ever away:
Worshipping God is central for all disciples. With a strategy for worship a disciple succeeds in enjoying varying degrees of closeness with God. Worship includes corporate worship more than once a week, private worship each day, as well as worship sessions where aspects of God can be appreciated in worship, e.g., when outdoors, to enjoy God’s creation.
Disciples cannot flourish on their own. We need to experience the love of fellow Christians. We also need to experience how conflict manifests and how people deal with it. Intimacy and trust are keys, but so are conflict management and grace for others. A disciple is tested on how they talk about others with others. Integrity’s best test is in community.
The best discipleship strategy is supported by mentors – not just one. Mentors are sponsors, guides, sounding boards, and a whole lot more. Devoted disciples of Jesus have up to half a dozen mentors who speak into different aspects of their lives. Remember, a mentor doesn’t tell you what to do; they ask questions and draw illustrations from their own lives that they share; they listen, and, whilst they don’t generally advise, they confirm good things and question things that may need further work.
4. Training, Reading, Learning
All these are crucial and they all need to be intentioned processes in our daily walk with Jesus. What Bible training, reading, and learning are we immersing ourselves in? What theologies, what relationships skills, and what history are we learning. Each mind and heart is its own seminary.
5. Stewardship and Serving
Sacrifice is a great yardstick for maturity. When we can routinely hold our possessions (not just the material ones) lightly, we can give them away, in the right situations, without even a thought or regret. But this is not about giving ourselves, or our assets, away willy-nilly. Much wisdom is required in making sure we are led by the Holy Spirit and that we do what the Spirit tells us to do.
6. Tackling Hurts, Habits and Hang-ups and Building Identity
Knowledge of who we are and where we are at is vital. Every day we have opportunities to get to know ourselves and where we are at. The more we approach truth, the more we will see the light shone into our hurts we carry, the habits that remain, and the hang-ups we cling to. Building identity – focused on the vertical self (you and God, me and God) – is a complementary strategy.
Important questions are these: Who do we want to be? Who was Jesus? What one thing now am I challenging myself to change about myself?
7. Balance for Growth and Change
I recall in one of the steeper climbs into the stratosphere of my growth in Christ the desire for it to stop temporarily. I felt I was being overwhelmed by the demands of life and God. It pays to remind ourselves that the journey does eventually plateau and then our problem is we get dry; we pine for the times when growth was hectic. Attaining balance, though, is wisdom.
True disciples of Jesus follow him diligently. They: 1) are passionate in their worship, 2) are active in fellowship, 3) have mentors, 4) are constantly learning, 5) are responsible stewards who serve sacrificially, 6) tackle truths in their lives, and 7) balance their energy during growth and change.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.