This November I will celebrate 37 years as a Christian. I accepted Jesus as my savior when I was 7 years old on the last Sunday in November. Coming to Christ as a young boy and living with my faith through numerous life stages leading into ministry has been a unique experience. Through those years I have struggled to keep my faith just like every other believer. Frequently I find myself slipping into ruts that hurt my faith.
1. I try to live out my faith alone.
I think there are two reasons for my withdrawal from others. One, I am a natural-born introvert. I find being with a large crowd exhausting. Two, I believe a lie. The lie is that faith is a personal matter. It is meant to be lived out alone. When I try to do this, I become lonely and frustrated. I spend too much time inside my own head. I start believing the lies I tell myself.
I firmly believe that faith is something we need to experience with other people. For me, that needs to be one or two people I feel close to personally. I need to speak my thoughts and get feedback. I need to hear the truth from other people. I need people to help me on my journey.
2. I think I have it all figured out.
I have been a Christian a long time. I am a Pastor. I should have this faith thing figured out by now. I mean, I have heard some of the same Bible stories a thousand times. I should know this stuff by heart. When my thoughts get like this I find that I quit reading my Bible, I quit listening to teachers and I quit reading. Spiritual growth stalls and finally dies.
I firmly believe all of us have to keep learning in order to grow. None of us has everything in the Bible mastered. We have to keep reading and listening and growing.
3. I rest on my past accomplishments.
I have done a great deal for the Lord in my life. I have organized programs, I have spoken of faith repeatedly and I have even started a Church. I have probably done more by 44 years old than most people do in a lifetime. I think it is time for a rest and let some of the other people carry the weight of ministry. I have done enough.
I firmly believe that God wants us to serve him. It is easy as I get older to see it as someone else’s job. When I start thinking like this I slowly drop out of serving others for the Lord into a self-serving malaise. My faith becomes something for Sundays or whenever I attend Church. My gifts are wasted and my faith stalls and stagnates. I think we need to keep serving – to stop focusing on ourselves by helping others. It forces us to trust God and it utilizes my gifts and abilities. Serving stretches my faith and keeps me growing.
Every Christian can easily slip into one of these ruts. I know they have been ongoing traps for me. They catch me and won’t let go until my faith is weak and frail. For me, I have to continually work hard to keep my faith active and growing. Maybe these are not your struggles, but they are mine and maybe like me you need to fight back to keep your faith alive.