Do you want to grow in your faith? Do you want to be a more centered person with more courage and less fear? Do you want to be a more patient, loving person? Do you want to know with some confidence that you are walking in the right way in your life? That’s great! I have just the thing for you. If you buy into my super special secret spiritual growth program for just $19.99 a month, you too can grow in faith with no effort at all. I have super special secret Jesus knowledge that he handed down to elite disciples over the years, and I am willing to sell it to you. Subscribe in the next ten days and you will receive extra special teaching for free!
I hope you know that I am just kidding. Over the years, I have found that there is no special secret to spiritual growth. There is no group that has special knowledge and techniques that no one else knows. There is no program that you can buy into that will make you grow as a Christian. The ‘secret’ is well known and has been taught publicly and used by Christians of every stripe for centuries upon centuries. Are you ready for the ‘secret?’ It is just daily and weekly practice. That’s it. Just show up.
Following Jesus is a Way of Life
It is no accident that our ancestors in the faith were known by a different name before they were called Christians. They were called ‘Followers of the Way.’ They were followers of Jesus. How can we grow as Followers of the Way?
If you want to grow in faith, you need to commit to daily and/or weekly activities that grow your faith. These are no secret. They are prayer, reading of scripture, study, worship, repentance, acts of mercy, the practice of gratitude, hospitality, sharing of faith and so on. There are far more daily practices than you have time to do! And you don’t need to do them all. You have to find what helps you to connect with God, yourself and your neighbour, and then commit to those things.
The Gift of Spiritual Direction
Alongside these practices, it is beneficial for several reasons to have a mentor. We call these people Spiritual Directors. The name is a little misleading. They are not here to direct you, and they are not ‘super special secret disciples.’ They are more like companions on the Way. Why are they helpful? First, because they have experience and training in helping people to grow in their faith. They can help you navigate the many forms of Christian practice to find some that will help you personally.
Second, the spiritual journey is a transformative journey. In order to grow, you have to deal with emotional, psychological and relational baggage in your life. This baggage is often what is holding you back from fullness of life in Christ, and it is invaluable to have someone to talk with. Spiritual Directors are not usually therapists. If something is especially troubling, they will refer you. But most times, it is just helpful to have a safe person to talk and pray with.
Third, a Spiritual Director is someone you can speak with as you discover new insights, of whom you can ask questions, and who will challenge and help you if you get into a rut.
There are many other reasons to have a spiritual director, but I think you see the point. As I said before, of course you don’t need one. But that is very different from it being helpful, and spiritual directors are extremely helpful.
Over to You
You don’t have to wait for the next great Christian growth program to go on sale. You can start daily or weekly practices right away! Next time, I will talk about what it means to develop a spiritual rhythm to live your life by. We call it a Rule of Life. And guess what? It’s free. Just like God’s grace.