Seriously. We talk about growth – church growth, self-growth, growing closer to God and one another – but how does it happen? It doesn’t just appear overnight.
Growth requires discipline. I don’t mean “discipline” in the form of “spare the rod and spoil the child;” it’s not the same meaning that we learned from a stern teacher in school.
Look at the word – discipline – and you see within it the word “disciple” (well, almost). For me, discipline is nothing more than being a disciple. So, let me officially define my terms:
Spiritual Disciplines are those practices that enhance our state of discipleship. It’s that simple. If you’re not into the whole simplicity thing, here’s another definition from a smarter guy than me:
Spiritual Discipline means engaging in a certain type of action in order to attain a level of spiritual responsiveness and power that would be impossible without engaging in that type of action.
Dallas Williard wrote that. He cites Jesus’ words in the Garden of Gethsemane: Matthew 26:41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” In other words, “do this thing, so you may grow stronger, so that your body will catch up to your spirit.”
Back to my original question: how do we grow? We grow by disciplining ourselves to act like Jesus. How do you think the church did it before there were ten thousand “Church-Growth-Spiritual-Growth-Celebrity-Preacher” types, having TV shows and writing books? Christians took what they remembered about Jesus and imitated him. And Jesus “implanted in their minds the necessity of a profound God-awareness in all of life that was to be sharpened by prayer and other acts of worship.” (E. Glenn Hinson, Spiritual Preparation for Christian Leadership).
How do we grow? By working on it!