Humility and Spiritual Growth

March 14, 2018

This post is Part 11 in a 12-part blog series on humility and growth. (If you missed the first post, you can find it here.)

Spirituality can be kind of a hard thing to pin down. Spirituality means a lot of different things to different people, but for the sake of this post, I’m going to be talking about spirituality as a sense of connection or closeness to God (or whatever you consider Sacred).

Spirituality is complex. Part of the reason for this complexity is that, at least in my religious tradition (Christianity), spirituality is relational. You might recognize that even in my definition of spirituality, I’m using relational words (e.g., connection, closeness). We talk about our “relationship with God.” We talk about God as a “father” and Jesus as a “friend.”

Because spirituality (at least Christian spirituality) is so relational, our experience with God has a tendency to get mixed up with our other relationships, particularly our most important relationships (e.g., parents and spouse). For example, if our father was distant and punitive, we have a tendency to see God that way too. Because of these connections, there’s a lot of psychology intertwined with our spirituality. How can humility help us make changes and grow in our spiritual life?

Humility and Spiritual Growth

  1. Spiritual growth is our responsibility. Many people blame God for their problems. It’s easy to do. Especially when something happens that is outside your control, it’s easy to blame God. Now obviously, if something happened that truly was outside of your control (e.g., parents died when you were young), what happened is not your fault. But it is your responsibility now to live as best you can, considering your current circumstances. It doesn’t help to blame God for your current problems. Instead, humbly acknowledge full responsibility for your spiritual lives right now.
  2. The weakness finder. We each have strengths and weaknesses when it comes to our spiritual lives. Maybe you have a great ability to think and reason about God and theology, but you struggle with doubt and faith. Or maybe you can experience God in a very real and close way during worship, but you struggle with hospitality or service. Whatever the case may be, it’s good to be honest and humble about your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to your spiritual life. Use your strengths to serve God and others, and be honest about your weaknesses and consider how you might work to grow in those areas.
  3. Get a coach. There is a plethora of resources and people available to help you on your spiritual journey. This isn’t something you have to do alone. Your pastor or minister would be a great place to start. You could seek out a spiritual director, who is trained to help people grow in their spiritual life. I’m also a big advocate for being in a small group of people who can do life together and help support each other’s journeys.
  4. Feedback, feedback, feedback. Part of the benefit of being in community with other people who are trying to grow spiritually is that you can get honest and open feedback about how you are doing spiritually. How are you doing at loving God and loving others? Are you growing in your character and displaying the fruit of the Spirit (e.g., love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control)? Humility and honest feedback is key to spiritual growth.
  5. Work at the edges of your ability. If you really want to grow spiritually, you can’t stay where you are comfortable. Remember the story of Peter walking on the water? Peter was comfortable sitting in the boat, but stepping outside on to the water required greater levels of faith and trust. And that’s where the growth happened. In a similar way, God may be calling you to greater levels of love, justice, and faithfulness. But you will only realize this growth by living at the edge of your faith, where you are least comfortable.

Discussion: What is one thing you would like to change or experience growth in your spiritual life? How could you use these humility principles to help you grow closer to God?

Click here to read Part 12: Move Forward in Humility


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