Key aspects for personal spiritual growth
Many people talk about growing older age-wise as the years go by. People seem to focus on this a lot in the world, including Christians. If our bodies grow, what more our spirits, the ‘real us.’
God’s word acknowledges that we are wasting away but being renewed inwardly each day (2 Corinthians 4:16). We know that the real us, that lives on to eternity, is the spirit man. This is what is being renewed. 2 Corinthians 4:18 encourages us to focus on what is unseen (spirit) and not what is seen with the natural eyes. What is seen is our bodies and the physical world around us. We can therefore conclude that we must do something intentional about our personal spiritual growth as children of God. In relation to our bodies, we know that without growth we would remain babies. Without full growth we would become stunted.
The last thing we want is to not grow spiritually and reach our potential.
To grow, something needs to be fed, and the spirit is no different. The question then becomes what to feed your spirit with to grow.
There are many aspects of personal spiritual growth. It is a process that takes years. In fact, it continues until we die and go to be with the Lord. It never ends in this life. You just continue to grow and ‘age in the Lord.’ Let us start by looking at the obvious things to attain personal spiritual growth. Thereafter we can list other areas.
The word of God
As young Christians, some start off their Bible experiences by reading scriptures from sermons on Sunday services or during home cell groups.
I found that soon after becoming a Christian, in addition to input from other people’s efforts to feed me with God’s word, I had to start reading the word for myself. I had to increase the volume of the word of God internalised over time.
Currently I combine reading scriptures with listening to an audio Bible. I found that having a Bible reading plan or reading it systematically helped to feed my spirit. Over many years I grew in not only reading but in meditating on the word of God through intentionally compiling what I called ‘life’ scriptures. I began memorizing them, declaring, and decreeing them not just for me but for my husband and children.
I then moved to praying scripture, which is powerful – because this is praying the will of God. In all this I had to move from knowing, then understanding then living scripture (Psalms 1:2-3). Being able to identify the appropriate scripture for different situations is an indication of personal spiritual growth. So is being able to discern misinterpretation of scripture and heresy.
Prayer is another area where one can visibly track personal spiritual growth. We are to never cease to pray (Ephesians 6:18). I started off listening to people pray, then praying only when asked to, be it for food or something else like opening or closing in prayer. Initially, I was not bold enough to pray in front of people or to volunteer.
Over the years as I grew, I started developing in my prayer closet, praying the Word of God, praying bold prayers, praying for my family and not just for myself, and praying beyond my family.
For example, I prayed for salvation and for healing, as well as for the nation from time to time. I also engaged in corporate prayer such as all nights, and other platforms. I became comfortable volunteering to pray, or to pray in general at events or at work when asked to. In addition, my prayers developed from ‘gimme prayers’ to deeper ones. I engaged in repentance, daily intercessory prayers for my children and husband, thanksgiving prayers, and praying in the spirit.
Praise, worship, thanksgiving
Praise and worship were initially a Sunday thing as I followed the lead of the worship team. I eventually began to understand that it had to be a lifestyle for it to contribute to my personal spiritual growth (Romans 12:1). I started making it part of my daily quiet time. In fact, this is what I now start off with daily (Psalms 100:4). Thanksgiving was always there when I became a Christian. The difference as I grew was that it moved from only being for good circumstances to being in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
Growing in godly character (Galatians 5:22 and 1 Corinthians 13) is an area I continue to develop in as a Christian. I had to face up to some ungodly traits I had and start yielding to God and allowing change.
I began to understand that character is what governs the talents and gifts we have.
These in turn equip us to fulfill our God-given purpose. With growth God helps you connect the dots.
All these things where growth is necessary, are rooted in the Bible. As you study it more and the principles therein, searching for deeper understanding, you realise that you need to grow in so many areas. Studying bible characters, listening to sermons and teachings from my local church and from other resources such as books, YouTube, and podcasts have helped unpack many biblical principles for me. This has contributed to my personal spiritual growth.
Other areas of personal spiritual growth to work on include but are not limited to tithing and giving (Malachi 3:10); serving others (Galatians 5:13); discovering spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12); seeking and walking in wisdom (James 1:5); evangelizing (Mark 16:15); changing mindset (Philippians 2:5).
Partnering with the Holy Spirit
In all these things, you cannot do it alone. I learnt this quite early on. I had to learn to abide in God (John 15:4-9) and ‘partner’ with the Holy Spirit. I learnt that what God wants to do in me (growth), through me and for me can only be done by His Spirit, not by power nor by might (Zechariah 4:6).