If you are leading, you need to be growing. The moment that engagement in spiritual formation stops is the moment you begin leading your people astray. Openness to the Holy Spirit–and humility before God and others–are the essential foundations for ongoing growth… as well as the bedrock qualifications for leadership.The moment that engagement in spiritual growth stops is the moment you begin leading your people astray. Click To Tweet
Pathways to Spiritual Formation
What that doesn’t mean is that spiritual formation needs to look a certain way. As long as there have been people, there have been ways to engage in spiritual growth. Adam walked in the garden with God in the cool of the day (Genesis 3:8). Believers through the centuries have seen visions, heard the voice of God, studied the scriptures, asked God for signs, stepped forward in obedience, and fasted and prayed for his involvement.
We can learn many ways of engaging with God from those who have gone before us. There’s no one method that works equally well for everyone, but there are paths others have blazed for us. These are often referred to as spiritual disciplines—ways to engage with God.
Be open to new experiences
Instead of sticking with only what you already know, explore the disciplines broadly. Experiment with new ones and see what avenues they open up for you. People have experienced God in many different ways through the centuries; there is no single correct method. Explore ways that have worked for others and try some of them.
Bede Griffiths, a Benedictine monk, details something he experienced as a boy. He was walking in the evening when he was suddenly dazzled by the beautiful song of a flock of birds. The beauty of their singing seemed to awaken senses he’d never used before. In an instant the world seemed magically transformed, and everything in it seemed to burst with what he calls a “kind of sacramental character. I remember now the feeling of awe which came over me,” he wrote, “I felt inclined to kneel on the ground… and I hardly dared to look on the face of the sky, because it seemed as though it was but a veil before the face of God.”
When have you experienced something like this? Take time to re-imagine that time in your mind, re-creating the sensory experience. You may be surprised at the effects of something like fasting or centered prayer, which are seldom exercised in some parts of the world.
Journey alongside others
You can also journey alongside others in your spiritual growth, sharing your experiences and practices with peers. A group of just three or four people is about the right size for this type of more intense personal engagement. Be open to learning from others and to sharing your own spiritual experiences with people you trust. Although some practices are done alone, spiritual growth is overall a communal activity.
Above all, remember humility. Be honest and transparent about your spiritual practices, including your failures, doubts, and mistakes. Pride and pretense are the death of spiritual formation.
Guidelines for ongoing spiritual growth
- Learn about and explore the spiritual disciplines.
- Branch out and try a variety of new ones.
- Journey alongside others.
- Be open and transparent about your spiritual formation.
- Remember humility.
Keep your connection with God fresh
All leaders, no matter how gifted or how naturally talented, must continue to walk in the Holy Spirit, relying on him, and continuing in their personal spiritual formation. Spiritual formation is the foundation of all leadership. If we are not first and foremost living disciples of Jesus, we have no business leading. Spiritual maturity is not something that is accomplished once and for all—it’s ongoing no matter how long we have been followers of Jesus. Although we may have a strong foundation of discipleship, we’ll need to continue to abide in Jesus if we want to be able to serve faithfully as a leader.
Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:4-5
An Undivided Heart
If you have yet to read An Undivided Heart: Living and Loving Like Jesus, there is no better time than now! Order Now and read through on your own or with your small group. Available in paperback and Kindle.
“The next book you should pick up”
“If you have been in going to church for a long time and are ready to be set on fire with God’s love to make a difference in the world, reading An Undivided Heart: Living and Loving Like Jesus is the next book you should pick up.” —The Reverend Doctor Adam T. Trambley
“A must read”
“A must read for any Christ follower who desires to make a positive sustaining difference in the lives of those who are seeking to make sense out of the chaos of today’s world. Essentially practical, yet inspirational with real life examples of how to creatively and strategically collaborate in the application of God’s transforming love in times of these.” —Raymond Rood, Founder and Senior Consultant, The Genysys Group
“A much needed book in this hour!”
Bob and Ralph have written a comprehensive, practical, and story-filled guide to living Christlike and nothing is more needed in our day. A modern day guidebook for a Jesus-style ministry and a must read for the Church.” —Tammy Dunahoo, Director, Leader Health & Development,The Foursquare Church
“May it inspire each of us to cultivate an undivided heart!”
“An Undivided Heart” interrogates our siloed approach to spiritual formation and seeks to inspire us to actively live and love like Jesus in a more integrated manner. Through their personal transparency, vulnerability, and gleanings, Bob and Ralph provide us with a practical framework and clear metrics to intentional and holistic following of Jesus, the only true pathway to whole-hearted living. we learn to live and love like Jesus, linking together our growing intimacy with God, our service to our community and our disciple-making activities. We learn how to make whole disciples from broken people; how we may live as an integrated person; how we may truly join God in His work in the world to overcome evil with good. May it inspire each of us to cultivate an undivided heart!” —Dennis Bachman, Executive Director and Lead Pastor of ViaCordis