I remember visiting my aunt Zos and uncle Jack at their summer cottage when I was growing up in Michigan. They had all sorts of critters roaming about and we enjoyed fishing and playing outdoors. One challenge was catching the rabbits and getting them back in their pens at night so the bigger “critters” in the woods would not be able to get a late night snack. I learned a lesson one summer that if you chase two rabbits, both will escape.
The takeaway was to focus my attention. Many people do not and are ineffective. I also learned that concentration is the key to getting the results I hoped for. Avoid the tendency to do a little bit of everything.
If you want to grow, you need to focus. If you are going to focus, you need to identify what your goals and priorities are and follow them. That will mean a “thing(s) to do list” as well as a “things NOT to do list.” It is easy to spend time doing things that have little return. I have learned the value of determining how to be selective about where I invest my time and energy.
Read Psalm 90:12.
I want to use my time on planet earth well and attain wisdom, so I regularly examine my effort in developing myself. Many in ministry have a tendency to give much to others, while their life resembles a starving baker. At the end of each year, I consider how I might raise my spirituality, character, and leadership lid 5% by the end of the next year.
One spiritual growth project I did over thirty years ago was reading “Celebration of Discipline” by Richard Foster. The author presents the “classic” inward (meditation, prayer, fasting, study), outward (simplicity, solitude, submission, service) and corporate (confession, worship, guidance, celebration) disciplines as critical and necessary for us to become “deep people.”
The disciplines are God’s means of grace for us to practice in order to pursue Christ-likeness. They are exercises we can utilize to put ourselves in God’s presence. But it all starts with a longing for God. The “classic” disciplines are called such because Foster says they are central to experiential Christianity. Men and women across the centuries have affirmed the necessity of the disciplines in one form or another. Foster writes that the spiritual disciplines can only get us to the place where something can be done…by God, and “in” us.
The project I undertook was to learn and practice one of the twelve disciplines Foster writes about each month for a year. I would read a chapter on the first day of the month, then follow the guidelines mentioned as I “tried it out” in a few different ways. Then I would take the second one and repeat the process. I continue to benefit from the varied practices (or holy habits) I have come to enjoy. They have helped get into regular places in order to meet with God, walk with God, and most definitely, to experience God. One example is the quarterly day of silence and solitude I have practiced since 1982. What a joy it is to unplug and have a day with Jesus.
So consider reading “Celebration of Discipline” and imitating my spiritual growth project.
Grow devotionally. Foster closes the introduction in the book by saying, “Let us be among those who believe that the inner transformation of our lives is a goal worthy of our effort.”
Love is a verb,
©2015 by Mike Olejarz