Scott had the most successful real estate business in his city. Half the properties he listed sold within one month, and most of the rest were gone within three months. His wife was his most successful salesperson, his son Jack was the quarterback on his school’s football team, and it looked like his daughter Cindy was headed to be the valedictorian of her senior class. They lived in a five-bedroom, four-bath home in an upscale part of town. How could life get any better?
Yet Scott felt as though something was missing. Most of the time he kept busy enough that the empty feeling didn’t bother him, but it would creep into his mind when he had a bit of extra time on his hands, like the day he had to wait 15 minutes to see his doctor and none of the magazines in the rack beside his chair interested him. It could even brush in and out of his thoughts when he was waiting at a stoplight or sitting in a meeting. Something was missing, but he couldn’t put his finger on it.
Then one day the dots connected. He found himself reminiscing about his childhood, and he remembered the peaceful feeling he sometimes got as he was lying in bed waiting to drop off to sleep. And as he thought about it, he remembered how his mother always prayed with him just before she tucked him in. There seemed to be a connection between the peaceful feeling he remembered from his childhood and the sense of emptiness he felt now, like he wished he could recapture what he’d felt “back then.” Scott was experiencing a longing for a deeper spirituality.
Let me suggest five things you can do to grow spiritually.
1Admit your need
Admitting your need seems like an obvious step, but many people never get beyond the wishing stage because they won’t admit they have a need.
Reread Jesus’ rebuke to the Laodiceans in Revelation 3:14–18. They were neither hot nor cold spiritually. They were “lukewarm”—and nauseating to Christ. But His real frustration with these people was not their lukewarmness, it was their “I don’t need anything” attitude. Read it for yourself: “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked” (verse 17).
Lukewarmness is not a problem for God. He can rekindle the fires of first love in His children—if they will see themselves as they really are and admit their need.
How do you do this? In prayer, tell God how much you need Him. Give Him permission to show you your spiritual blind spots and to point out those areas in your life that need to be brought under His control. Keep a pad and pencil handy as you do this, and be ready to write down what God reveals to you. Go down the list and pray about each issue, admitting the truth about yourself and accepting God’s forgiveness.
This step relates directly to the first one. After admitting to God that you need help and giving Him permission to show you your faults, you must do something! Because mine is a sit-down job, and because I don’t use my recreation center membership as I should, I’ve developed a little “spare tire” around my middle. I admit I have a need all right, but the spare tire still isn’t “flat.” It isn’t flat because I haven’t taken myself to the gym and done something about it!
Bill Hybels, pastor of the famous Willow Creek Community Church, says, “The heart and soul of the Christian life is learning to hear God’s voice and developing the courage to do what He tells us to do.” If you’re going to grow spiritually, you’re going to have to do what God tells you to do.
Start by making a plan. List your goals. Do you want to read the Bible every day? Memorize passages from the Bible? Do some volunteer work in your community? Do you want more time for prayer? Write down your goals. Submit your list to God. Then take action. Follow through.
3Stick close to Jesus
Jesus said, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me” (John 15:4). If you want to be a more spiritual person and more like Jesus, you need to “remain in,” or stick close, to Him. You need to spend time with Him.
Again, Bill Hybels writes, “Any way you slice it, a key ingredient in authentic Christianity is time. Not leftover time, not throwaway time, but quality time. Time for contemplation, meditation and reflection. Unhurried, uninterrupted time.”
Stop laughing and listen. I know what you’re thinking: Yeah, I need time with Jesus, but there’s a problem—I don’t have any time. I get up at 5:00 A.M., hit the ground running, and don’t slow down until 11 or 12 at night. Having time with Jesus sounds poetic and nice, but in the real world—my world—it hardly ever happens.
Realize this: Time with Jesus will never just happen. You must plan for it, and you must be committed to it just as you’re committed to going to work every day. It’s that important.
Set a realistic goal. Start small—maybe just 15 minutes every day. What you do with that time is between you and God. You may sing, journal, enjoy times of silence, pray, read the Bible, and so on. But start today, and make it first on your list.
4Get a spiritual-accountability partner
Find someone who shares your desire to grow spiritually and ask that person to enter into a partnership with you to achieve your spiritual goals. Your accountability partner may be a close friend, or they may be an acquaintance you feel like you can trust. The principle here is strength in numbers. “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” (Ecclesiastes 4:9, 10).
Simply put, we need help. An accountability partner will pray for and with you, and, as the name suggests, hold you accountable to the goals you have set for yourself. Ask God to lead you to the right person to partner with. Ask that person to lunch. Share your goals over a meal, and invite him or her to be your accountability partner. This may be the most exciting and most important step in your spiritual growth plan.
5Give yourself away
The Dead Sea is literally dead because water flows in but doesn’t flow out. It’s a “selfish” body of water—only receiving and not giving. Christians can become like the Dead Sea when they constantly take in Bible study, church activities, sermons, seminars, and so on, but seldom give out in the form of Christian witness or service to others.
If you really want to grow spiritually, look and pray for ways to give yourself away. Volunteer at a local hospital or homeless shelter. Mow the lawn or rake the leaves for an elderly couple. Play golf with a friend or business associate who seems lonely. Organize a painting party and freshen up a shut-in’s kitchen or exterior trim. The point is this: spirituality is more than just sitting around praying and reading. We grow most like Jesus when we’re serving and ministering to others.
Well, there you have it—five ways to increase your spirituality. Not an exhaustive list by any means, but one to start with.