The hairs on the back of my neck stand up anytime someone says they will not help with a ministry at the Church because “they need to be fed.” The statement is derived from the concept that to keep growing spiritually, you need to set quietly in a worship program. I find this type of thinking so troubling because as a Church leader I rarely ever just sit in a worship program at my Church.
I believe that spiritual growth is a lot like physical growth. The older you get, the more you should be able to feed yourself. In fact, a sign of maturity is that you can take care of yourself. Then having someone else feeds you becomes a special treat and not a place of dependence.
So how does a person, like me, keep themselves growing spiritually? Let me give you a few thoughts.
1. Personal Daily Quiet Time. I have a simple plan to read 3-5 chapters out of the Bible 5 days a week. The length varies depending on the length and topic of the chapters. Right now, I am in the Psalms, and usually, I can read 5 of them in 15 minutes or less. This one practice has allowed me to read the Bible 3 full times in the last 5 years. I couple that Bible reading with 10-15 minutes of prayer time. Again, the time varies with the seasons and needs at the moment. Each day I start off with doing these two simple practices.
2. Read Blogs. I have a blog reader called “Feedly.” (There are several other versions). After my quiet time is done, I sit and read through about 125 blogs. Some of them get the immediate delete button. My list of blogs I read is greatly varied from Christian writers so an article on “Things a mother needs to know about daughters” gets deleted since I am not a mother and have no daughters. Other articles get skimmed for big ideas. Still, others get read deeply. Finally, others get saved for future reference. Many of these I share on here each Saturday. These little one page articles challenge me as a pastor, man, father, and Christian. One post just today challenged me to trust God’s providence over myself. Good stuff to help grow.
3. Read books. I admit that I used to read more books than I do today. A number of modern books disappoint me. I prefer to read books that have been around a while and still have an impact. These are timeless treasures of spiritual growth.
4. Podcasts. A substantial number of Churches post their sermons online. With iTunes, I can pick a favorite Church or speaker and hear their sermons every week. For me, they are automatically set up to be downloaded and then listened to at my convenience. Every week I can listen to the best preachers from the biggest Churches or from Bible college chapels with ease.
5. Attend Elsewhere. There are two things that help me to grow outside of my normal routine. One is going to conferences. I try to do this at least once a year. Last year I went to a men’s conference with my son. This year I am looking at one by Andy Stanley. The other source I use might surprise you. I like to occasionally take a Saturday night and attend a larger Church somewhere. At Easter this year I was feeling in need of some added growth time, so my wife and I went to a nearby Church and sat and enjoyed the worship without the stress of leading. This helped me to stay fresh going into the service at our own Church.
The wonderful part of being a believer today is that there are so many resources. We have study Bibles, books, blogs, podcasts, magazines, conferences and a dozen other things to help us grow spiritually. The resources are out there for you. With a little effort, you can keep yourself growing while still be able to help feed a few other people who are new to the faith.
What works for you? What would you add to my list?