The most common questions I (and most people involved in ministry) hear revolve around jumpstarting spiritual growth (i.e. getting out of ruts, getting out of a dry place, closing the distance between them and God, etc). The good news is that solving this problem doesn’t have to be theological rocket science. It’s actually quite straightforward and consistently effective. That is, of course, if you’re willing to put in the work.
1. Ask questions
Jesus actually gave us pretty clear guidance that those who draw closer to God, those who find the answers they are looking for ask questions. They seek out divine knowledge and wisdom. They plead for understanding as to what God might have them do next. Most importantly, they make every effort to continuously deepen their understanding of God himself.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions of God and of those around you who are also chasing after him. You aren’t being a nuisance. You’re learning.
Don’t let your pride prevent you from broaching those conversations. Asking questions is a sign of weakness, but it is a God-honoring weakness. It is an admission of your dependence on the Holy Spirit to be continually led into the truth of Christ and how it impacts your life. Don’t believe the lie that mature Christians don’t have to ask questions. Anyone who does has no clue what genuine Christian maturity actually is.
Join the ranks of Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David, Solomon, Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, the Disciples, and Paul. Ask questions. A lot of them. When you’re done asking questions, ask some more. The wealth of God’s knowledge and will can never be exhausted by his people, and his time is never wasted by those who sincerely seek him
2. Listen to the Answers
When, not if, God gives you an answer, either through the Spirit, the Word, your neighbor, or any other source, listen. Take him at his word that the answer you receive is the right one. The response you receive from God is always the perfect one, regardless of your ability to fully understand it.
It’s so easy to second guess, modify, or outright ignore the Holy Spirit. Our reasons for doing so are legion. It’s too simple. It’s too hard. It doesn’t make sense. It’s not what I was expecting. It’s not what I want. Resist the urge to be like King Ahab in 1 Kings 22. He was willing to go through as many prophets as possible to find the answer he wanted to hear. He desperately wanted to avoid the one prophet, Micaiah, who was always willing to give God’s answer rather than the preferred one.
Trust God’s answers to you. Trust that they aren’t just generic, Sunday school platitudes. Rather, embrace the truth that God is personally responding to your specific questions that are rooted in your specific needs. When God speaks, listen. It’s a simple instruction but one we seem to struggle with consistently applying.
3. Set Goals
Figure out what obedience looks like. Take aim at some concrete, measurable target. If you want to seek God more diligently then set a goal for time spent reading your Bible each day. Meeting that goal won’t automatically mean you’ve leveled up in terms of maturity. It will, however, build a pattern of intentionality and focus.
If you don’t set goals you won’t progress. The only way to grow spiritually is to “make every effort to add to your faith” (2 Peter 1:3-11). Making effort actually requires us to put forth considerable…you know…effort. Plan well. Work hard. Aim for something measurable.
4. Take Action
Finally, do something. That’s right. Do something. You may not think that sounds spiritual, but it is. There comes a time for learning to turn into doing. If that never happens, one must question whether or not any learning has actually taken place.
If God says “Go” then go. If God says “Stop” then stop. If you aren’t sure what to do next, then simply go back to the last answer you received from God and keep doing that. There is no excuse for inaction in any facet in the believer’s life. Even if God commands you to wait, that’s something. You can pray and prepare while you wait. There is always a next step, however big of small it may be.
If you follow these clear steps you will see fruit; not because they’re magical but because we see them taught and applied in Scripture with wondrous results.