How will i know if i’m growing?
Some people have a door frame in their house marked with various lines, with dates and names beside each line. It measures the growth in height of each member in the house. It’s easy to see by looking whether a person is growing or not. The evidence is there and speaks for itself, it’s all very objective. Often a visitor to the home will stand in the frame to see where they measure – its all a fun little exercise. For some reason we don’t do the same thing with weight. In fact, I haven’t seen any homes that display that growth metric in sight of guests and visitors. Can you imagine?
“Welcome to our home. Yes, that’s our little household weigh station. There’s Bobby when he was 3yrs and Jenny when she was 9. You see my wife and I here, here and here. Never stop growing. Why don’t you step on up there and see how you fit with our family?” Cute, right?
We have ways of measuring growth in some areas of our lives that give pretty direct feedback as to our health and progress. Health and financial are comparatively straightforward measurements. Then there are some harder to measure like relationship growth or career growth.
And what about spiritual growth? This can quickly become a very delicate and explosive area of conversation. What are we measuring and by what standard? The disciples tried to measure things. “How many times must we forgive our brother?” “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” And there are many more indirect references that are efforts to quantify spiritual growth, like how and when and where to pray.
If measuring spiritual growth was a simple as some pencil marks on the door frame we would all have one in our home – either the VeggieTales, Hillsong, or Minecraft version complete with DVD, devotional book, and 8 week study. Spiritual growth is not measured in inches, pounds or years. I suggest 3 other units of measurement; Words, Presence, and Hunger (thirst).
Words. What are the words coming out of your mouth? Are they thankful, encouraging and faith filled words? Are they life giving and generous? Are they loving, true, kind and full of grace?
Not sure? Count them. Surely if we have a mechanism to count calories (what goes into the mouth) we should have the ability to measure what comes out of the mouth. “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up (accumulated or grown) in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up (accumulated, grown) in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45)
Presence. “Where are you?” (Gen.3:9). Where do you find yourself? A sign of growth and maturity is increasing self-awareness regarding position and direction. Do you know how to get home? Do you know who you are with? A small child can sleep peacefully on a very high ledge even though a shift in the wrong direction could prove disastrous. The child lacks maturity. While a person of more “growth” will have the wisdom to determine whether the position is beneficial and will take steps to avoid it and remove themselves from it. (Prov.22:3) There are two parables about being “lost”. The sheep needed someone to go and find him (Luke 15:4-5). The sheep was truthfully lost. The son needed to come to his senses and go home (Luke 15:17-18). The father waited for the son to grow up.
Hunger. What are you eating? Is it good for you? What are you filling your appetites with? I was just reminded of when one of my young children got their pudgy little hands on a battle of children’s Tylenol. It tasted good. She drank a lot of the bottle. Spiritual growth changes your appetites. You grow in discernment between what just tastes good and what is good. And you learn to chew and digest more than just milk. However, appetite in itself is not a measure of growth, rather how is the appetite fulfilled. Are you maximizing your appetites to move you closer to God or are they driving you further from God? “You are blessed in a state of hunger and thirst for righteousness. And you will be satisfied.” (Matt. 5:6)
I encourage you to pick a measurement and do an honest evaluation today. Words. Presence. Hunger. Then put a mark on your spiritual door frame and start growing.