I wonder if you have ever looked at your life and questioned why you are not changing more quickly. It can become frustrating when you see some of the same patterns in your life now that were there twenty years ago. It may be that you are going to a church where there is sound teaching and you have grown in your knowledge of God’s Word, but you aren’t growing nearly as fast in your practice of God’s Word.
Here are four pieces of advice if you find yourself in that situation:
1. You may be changing more than you realize. When a person is growing physically he doesn’t always notice it right away and the same is sometimes true spiritually. If you find yourself very discouraged, sit down with a trusted and godly friend and share your discouragement and ask him to help you evaluate your life and where you are at. It may be that he sees more growth in your life than you are able to see at this moment.
When a person goes to school, what does it take for that child to learn new and difficult habits? He needs instruction certainly. But what if that was all he received? Who would learn and move forward the most do you think? Highly motivated learners. But if there was only instruction, many other students would be left behind, only learning bits and pieces over a long period of time. Good teachers know that instruction is one part of the learning package. It is the primary part of course, but other parts are helpful. It sometimes seems like we don’t recognize this in the church. Here are three specific suggestions that can’t make up for a lack of good instruction – but can certainly help you grow and change must faster if you are receiving sound teaching.
2. Keep track of what you actually are doing. When you are keeping a budget, it is one thing to have a general idea of where you are spending money and it is a whole other thing to write down every day what you actually spend. The same can be true when you are working on growing in specific areas. I am working on overcoming pride. How? What are you doing every day to overcome this problem? What is your plan? How are you keeping track of whether you are putting that plan into practice? It may seem funny, but thinking specifically about what you are actually doing to grow can help. At the very least it might show you that you aren’t doing nearly as much as you thought at first.
3. Receive guided practice in doing something differently. When a child is learning a new skill at school, he usually receives instruction and then he receives homework and then that homework is evaluated by someone who is an expert. What if we did more of this? If I want to grow in my prayer life, what about developing a friendship with a godly person and praying together and asking him for specific counsel on prayer and then opening yourself up to his counsel on your prayer life by asking something like, how do you think I, me, knowing what you know of me, could grow in my prayer life. If you are working on overcoming fear, it may help to ask someone if they can give you homework in this particular area and then working through your homework together.
4. Look for someone else who will lovingly checking up with you to see how you are doing. What would happen at most jobs if there was no one who ever checked up on the employees to see how they were doing with their responsibilities? I am guessing not much would happen. That’s the point. How often do people come to churches for years and no one ever checks up on them and lovingly asks them specific questions about their life and how they are doing on implementing what they are learning into their lives.