We want to welcome the men back from the True Pursuit Weekend! We are so grateful for the time you spent with us. Some of the True Pursuit guys took time to respond to the following quote. We hope it is inspiring and transformative as you continue your journey.
“Becoming like Christ is a long, slow process of growth. Spiritual maturity is neither instant nor automatic; it is a gradual, progressive development that will take the rest of your life. Referring to this process, Paul said, “This will continue until we are . . . mature, just as Christ is, and we will be completely like him.” (Ephesians 4:13 CEV)
– Danny Davis
Over the past 10 years, spiritual maturity for me has been a process, beginning with the basic concept of understanding what a wound is and then on to the process of beginning to heal my wounds.
It’s a slow process for me.
I didn’t even know what a wound was until I started hanging out with a band of brothers over 10 years ago. Never heard about it in church or from my parents or friends. The healing for me comes from from a lot of listening to others and hearing their stories, talking to others and hanging out with Jesus. Brene Brown says that she doesn’t share a story/wound until she has healing from it. I think I don’t have healing from story/wounds until I share it.
Either way, healing my wounds, or at least beginning to heal my wounds is a major step, for me, in a becoming a more mature and spiritual being.
Photo by Limor Zellermayer on Unsplash
In reading the quote I am struck by the dualistic way in which I approach my spiritual maturity. Some days I am mentoring other men and I am acutely aware (with a healthy amount of humility) of how much I have grown and matured spiritually over the years. Other days, a decades old trigger sets me off again, and I feel like I haven’t made any progress at all!
The quote reminds me that the maturation process is a life-long one – and it will only be complete when I am like Christ in heaven. That allows me to give myself grace when I examine the areas where I have not matured yet – and gives me hope I will mature in those areas in the years to come. And it allows me to sit with the joy when I recognize the areas where I have matured a great deal throughout my journey.
Two things show up for me when I think of this question. The first forces me to adjust my expectations for spiritual growth. Accepting the notion that growth, real lasting irreversible change in my life, requires a long time forces me to take a long view and to go easier on myself when I feel like I should be further down the road. There is such a habit in our current day and age to expect things to “get fixed” and to get it done now! Spiritual growth toward maturity will not acquiesce to that attitude.
Second is the effort required. Dallas Willard says God is opposed to earning, but not to effort. In fact, Willard says most of us have to put forth a lot more effort than we currently do in order to experience meaningful growth. This effort includes practices we undertake, such as solitude, silence, study, scripture reading and memorization and so on. It is up to me to discipline myself to keep up the effort while believing my “Abba” Father will do his part. And from time to time we can look back over the narrow road and see how we are different, better, more like him. That’s how I see it.
Photo by Dominik Scythe on Unsplash
Yes, I agree with all of these thoughts. My experience has been similar. As a “card carrying” striver, my tendency is to focus on the effort side of the equation, and either be proud of all of the work I’ve done or ashamed of the work I haven’t done. So, while knowing I must still put in the effort, sometimes I have to intentionally pause to receive the grace we are given and to remember and trust that God is in this with me (doing His part).
Since spiritual growth requires both effort and grace, there is always a tension between these two “required elements.” And we are faced with trying to balance these tensions. In fact, I think another element of spiritual maturity is accepting that the tension between effort and grace will always be present, and being OK with that. Sometimes that feels uncomfortable, and maturing is often uncomfortable.
Finally, I would say I’ve learned that because spiritual growth is such a long slow process, two practices are critical: solitude and community. I don’t know anyone who has travelled a ways down the life-long road of spiritual growth who hasn’t spent a lot time alone with God, talking about areas of change in our lives. And it’s really, really hard to do this on your own, with no support from friends. A band of brothers can see things in you that you can’t see yourself, and can help you navigate the path.