• Debbie Salter Goodwin

5 Ways to Stunt Spiritual Growth


Spiritual growth isn’t automatic. Nor can growth become a task on list to check off. Instead, growth is 25% determination but 75% openness. So how do we set ourselves up for growth without sabotaging the process from the beginning? Consider these reminders to get started in the right direction.


1. Ignore change as growth catalyst.

We are living in a time of perpetual change. Change isn’t our enemy unless we make it one. Change keeps us from stagnation. We learn to adapt, re-think, and problem solve with change. Change pushes us toward growth if we let it. Change reminds us of the truth God tries to calm us with: We aren’t in charge in this world; He is.


While not all change is kind, easy, or comfortable; change can become the push we need to be open to the resources God has been preparing to help us address an unexpected diagnosis, loss, or inconvenience.

To grow God’s way I make peace with change

because it is a good way to grow.


2. Substitute how I think I should grow for how God wants me to grow.

I don’t know about you, but I can make a list of all my mistakes and mess-ups and write new goals to address each one without ever consulting God. I can even put a scripture to each one. However, if they are not God-prompted; they will lack the fuel I need from the Holy Spirit to accomplish them. I know this because I can show you impressive spiritual goals that looked good on paper but never took root.

To grow God’s way, I must learn that

what He says will make a difference.


3. Refuse to let unguarded reactions be a warning signal.

Our unguarded moments tell us more about how we are growing that we’d like to think. We can blame bad reactions on being tired, not having enough time, a bad boss, or too much to do. However, those are simply the excuses we’ve used before to reject an opportunity to see a person or a situation in another way. It takes less than 2 seconds to ask God “How do YOU want me to respond?” Whatever answer is on the other side of that question is your growth challenge from God. It’s not just about being nice or more loving, it’s about letting God have more control. That’s where growth comes in.

To grow God’s way, I am willing to

let God teach me in my unguarded reactions.


4. Make worship an accessory to my week instead of the fulcrum.

Attendance, whether in person or virtually, isn’t automatic worship. Worship is an action of will and obedience. God knows we need rest from the push and pull of the week, the chaos, the hurry, the self-deprecating talk. We need to come into His presence honest about our neediness. We need to come hungry for the Truth God wants to give. When we see worship as the turning point between weeks, the Living Water we need, the only

Bread that satisfies our true hunger; we come more expectant and leave with gifts we can only find in that dedicated space.

To grow God’s way, I will

give God my whole mind, heart, and will in worship.


5. Pretend I know how to make plans that will make the best difference.

That doesn’t mean we don’t make plans. Follow any strategy you want. Make the best plans you can. Of course. But hold them lightly. Remember how unstable this world is and don’t build everything on its sinking sand. Instead, we should end our list with a disclaimer to remind us that all our plans are subject to God’s review and can be substituted for whatever He says will make the biggest difference.

To grow God’s way, I will always

let God have first and last say on the plans I make.


This is a good year to grow. Why? Because God is in control. The only question I need to ask, is this: Is He in control of me? When He is, God becomes my Growth coach, my cheerleader, my Way. Then, growth is in my future, especially in a climate of change and unpredictability.

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