It’s Time To Grow Up Spiritually

“Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,.” (Hebrews 6:1)

When our boys were little they needed a lot more attention than they do now. When they would finally crawl out of bed in the morning they’d stumble into the kitchen with one word on their lips, ‘c e r e a l’. They would sit in silence at the kitchen table, half asleep, working their way to the bottom of a bowl of Cheerios.

Small children are needy. Somehow it seems like they’re oblivious to the fact that anyone else exists in the world other than the person pouring them cereal every morning. And if for some reason that person was to slow or didn’t have the right kind of cereal, well, mom and dad were going to hear about it.

Thankfully, especially for our parents, we don’t stay that dependent and needy forever. Eventually we all figure out how to get our own breakfast in the morning and eventually, we grow up and become the ones serving cereal to our children.

Here’s the thing, there’s nothing wrong with children being needy. However, at some point, if they didn’t begin to mature and grow out of that stage, we would be concerned about their development.

The reality is that this is also true spiritually as well. Unfortunately there are many Christians today who’s growth seems to be stunted. One of my favorite books on this topic is by David Ravenhill and it’s entitled, For God’s Sake Grow Up.

Here’s a quick quote:

“The Church is now filled with believers who have begun in the faith – they can profess a saving knowledge of Christ – but who have ceased to grow. As a result, a spiritually stunted Church has been plagued by immorality, carnality, worldliness, imbalance, and lack of direction. Until the Church grows out of spiritual infancy, such problems can only continue.”

We have to remember that salvation is just the beginning point of our spiritual journey. The Apostle Paul puts it this way in 1 Corinthians 13:11:

“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.”

The reality is that God wants us to grow in our faith. He’s given us the tools for that to happen.

How can we grow spiritually?

We grow spiritually when we spend time studying God’s Word. We grow spiritually when we spend time in prayer, both privately and corporately. We grow spiritually when we spend time in fellowship with other believers. We grow spiritually by listening to sermons. We grow spiritually when we encourage others by being a spiritual mentor. There are many ways to grow spiritually, the key is we must be proactive. There’s no place for spiritual laziness in the life of a believer.

So here are a few questions to consider. Am I committed to growing spiritually? What holds me back from developing as a Christian? What steps do I need to take to move forward with God in this season of my life?

3 Ways Pastors Can Avoid Burn Out

Lately it seems like we’re bombarded daily with bad news. I don’t know about you but I’m so tired of it. I often day dream of moving to a cabin in the open plains of Wyoming or the mountains of Idaho. Basically anywhere the daily deluge of information slows down or grinds to a halt due to a lack of a technological connection. 🙂

This week though I heard a particularly disturbing news report about a well known pastor in Wisconsin who committed suicide. This hit close to home on several levels. Partly because of the close proximity geographically but mostly because I know the toll pastoring can take on those who feel called to this ministry.

I wish I could say I had some profound insights into this tragedy but this is such a sad story and obviously devastating for this church.

Someone asked me recently what pastors do to keep from burning out? I struggled to give a good response. What I’ve found is that there are tons of great resources out there dedicated to this topic and I would highly recommend that you get your hands on some of them.

In this post I want to just share a few simple things I’ve done over the years to avoid pastoral burnout that have seemed to help me.

First of all, you have to remember your limitations. Every single person is limited, I don’t care who they are. The problem is that many successful people, pastors included, can create the visual that they have it all together. I’ve done this long enough to know, every pastor at one point or another comes face to face with their limitations. It’s crucial in those moments to remember that’s a good thing! The apostle Paul said that he didn’t boast in his strengths. He boasted in his weakness so that God’s power could be perfected in him. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Secondly, you have to avoid the temptation to isolate yourself. I don’t know what it is about pastors but many are prone to isolate themselves, especially from other pastors and churches. The longer I serve as a pastor the more I realize how much I need, other pastors. I’ve been a part of some amazing pastor’s fellowships over the years and staying connected has always been good for my soul.

Finally I would say that in order to avoid burnout you have to realize that every pastor is an interim pastor. The reality is that someday you won’t be serving in the place or position you are now. When we’re in the thick of the daily grind of pastoring we sometimes forget that. The reality is that pastors are given a platform for a season. Every season comes to an end. I think if more pastors remembered this it would change our perspective and would allow us to think beyond the Sunday to Sunday grind.

The good news is that some of the depressing statistics you sometime hear floating around the Internet about pastors who want to quit might not be that accurate. It turns out many pastors love their calling and thoroughly enjoy serving their churches.

I’ll close by saying this, if you are a pastor feeling burned out, don’t be afraid to reach out to someone for help. Over the years I’ve personally sought professional counseling in seasons where I’ve felt overwhelmed. You are not alone. Many people close to you and those who know you best want you to be healthy more than they want you to be successful. That’s worth remembering.

How To Prepare For Spiritual Battles

“By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.” (Hebrews 11:7)

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about living in Minnesota, winter is coming whether you’re ready or not. Sometimes we have a warmer than usual fall and it’s easy to wonder, maybe winter won’t come this year. But it always does.

Getting ready for winter involves quite a few things. Making sure your furnace is up to snuff. Making sure your garage is cleaned out so you can park your cars inside on those cold nights. Making sure that you have all the winter gear you will need. Being prepared for Minnesota’s harshest season is essential.

Recently, as I was preparing a sermon, I was thinking about how important it is to be prepared for spiritual battles as well. We live in a harsh world with many competing ideas that can easily overwhelm us. Temptations are all around and from the moment we wake up, we’re bombarded with messages from every direction. 

So how can we be prepared spiritually to face the battles of each day? How can we be prepared for the spiritual battles we will be forced to fight? Are their spiritual preparation verses and Scriptures we can study to get ready? The apostle Paul said this in Ephesians 6:10-18:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

How about you? Are you preparing yourself for the spiritual battle you’ll face today? God has all the tools and weapons you will need to combat every scheme of the enemy. The question is, will take up your armor and head into battle?

How are you preparing for the spiritual battles you will face? Would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below.