Spiritual growth is a funny thing.
I mean, most sorts of growth are pretty easy to measure. Financial growth (or the lack thereof!) is pretty obvious. Growth in size (or weight...ugghhh) is not too hard to track. We can tell when a plant grows - and depending on the time of year - such growth can be observed even daily. Kids seem to grow right before our eyes. Scientists can even measure the growing distance (sort of) between the galaxies (thought I won't try to get into the complexity of this phenomenon - since it boggles little minds like mine).
But spiritual growth is another matter entirely. There is no ruler available to us that adequately accounts for it. In fact, quite counter intuitively, the Bible seems to describe growing Christians as getting smaller (at least smaller in terms of their estimation of themselves). John the Baptist summed it up when he said, speaking of Christ, "He must increase, but I must decrease."
I guess I'm thinking about spiritual growth sort of like an investment portfolio, managed by a trusted accountant, but into which you have no direct access. You know what you put in, but have no real clue where you are at. Not a brilliant analogy for sure. But maybe it has some correlation to our situation with respect to growing as Christians.
But we are told to grow. There seems to be no question about this. I won't trouble you with quotes. Anyone familiar with their Bibles is well aware that growing is not merely a spiritual fantasy but a Divine Command. "Grow, you must!" is how Yoda would say it. But with abundantly more authority, the Apostle Peter makes it clear, "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18)."
Since we are commanded to grow in spite of our limited capacity to really measure growth, I am especially grateful for books that help me to focus on specific areas to concentrate on. Rather than always trying to determine if I am ACTUALLY growing, it seems better to just focus on the things that make for growth. Do them, and we can be reasonably sure we are growing, whether we can see such growth or not. Donald Whitney wrote a book entitled "Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life." In it he draws our attention to 10 Biblical Areas to focus on if we want to grow as Christians.
It was my plan to use these 10 areas as the subject of a Sunday School lesson the last Sunday of 2012. But as it happened, a snow storm interfered with these plans. So, I decided I would just post the handout I was planning to distribute.
The handout is a VERY brief summarizing of the 10 areas to work on if we want to grow as Christians. The book goes into much more detail, defense and discussion of them. But I created the handout so that it could be printed on a single sheet of paper (front and back) and tucked into our Bible.
Maybe you would find it useful. I'm keeping a copy to review throughout the year myself. I need regular reminders about such things.
That then is my beginning for 2013, my exordium.
Here it is if you would like to print it yourself: