Sometimes I get to choose when I grow and sometimes my time of growth is chosen for me through events and circumstances beyond my control. Either way, experience has taught me times of growth are usually uncomfortable.
To understand the process of growth, I like the equation; “E+R=O”, where “E” stands for an event in my life, “R” stands for my response to the event, and “O” stands for the outcome I experience. Growth is really about changing my response to events. In order to grow (i.e., change my response), I have to first accept that I can’t control most of the events in my life. Stuff happens. But I do have full control over my response to an event and therefore can affect the outcome. Following the logic of the equation, if I want a different outcome (i.e., to grow in Christ), I have to stop responding in the way I have always responded and I have to start responding in a new way. My old response is usually ineffective, but I seem to keep doing it until I intentionally set out to respond differently. In order to change my response, I have to accept the uncertainty that comes with not knowing exactly what the new outcome will look like. I can get stuck in my old response because the fear of this unknown outcome can overwhelm my desire to experience a new outcome.
If you want to grow in Christ, I have found the traditional Lutheran spiritual practices to be very effective in helping me respond to events in my life in a different way. The following seven practices can effectively grow your relationship with Christ:
- Pray – create quiet time with God each day, first thing in the morning
- Study – read the bible, by yourself or with a group
- Worship – regularly praise God with others
- Give – our openness to Christ is often tied to the openness of our wallet
- Encourage – become someone else’s cheerleader
- Serve – humbling ourselves to serve others opens our heart
- Invite – once you truly experience Christ’s love, you are compelled to invite others
If these practices are new to you or you fallen out of practice, your first step is to acknowledge the fear you may experience when you start thinking about incorporating them into your daily life. How will your life change? How will God respond? I invite you embrace your discomfort. I invite you to trust God and enjoy the changes that he will make in you and your life as you embark on your journey of growth in Christ! – by Bill Ernstrom, Director of Operations