As we begin to think of New Year’s Resolutions, I felt this post was worth repeating from last year. As worship leaders, it is foundational that we continue to grow spiritually. Our times of personal worship are essential to our times of corporate worship. My friend, Brian Upshaw, states in a blog post, “Spiritual growth only happens with intentionality on our part.” He then lays out six steps to developing a spiritual growth plan in this new year:
Step One: Reflect.
Start by asking yourself some questions. A most helpful list of questions for the new year has been compiled by Don Whitney. I find his questions to challenge me to consider my ways! Spend some time in quiet reflection and even journaling to think about how you would answer these. Another helpful practice is to reflect upon the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. Ask yourself, “Am I more loving? More joyful? More at peace?, etc.” As you reflect on the fruit of the Spirit, ask the Father to direct you to those characteristics where you may need to focus in 2016.
Step Two. Commit.
Schedule a daily appointment with the Lord. Include a consistent place and time. Honor this appointment as you would any other. Make time with God a priority not to be compromised. I start my day alone with the Lord. I find that if I begin my days with the Lord I am more likely to spend the time. Plus, I have the whole day ahead to apply what the Lord is saying.
Step Three. Decide how you will study God’s Word.
Apart from intentional intake of the Bible, you will not grow spiritually. It is God’s Word through which He communicates His great story and His purposes. There are many different reading plans available from YouVersion. I will be reading through the Bible in 2016 using the Read the Bible for Life plan (more on this next week). Devotional guides such as Charles Haddon Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening or Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest may also prove helpful for insight and reflection. One warning about devotionals – make sure they are reflections on God’s Word, not additions to God’s Word. A human’s comments, no matter how popular, should never replace the Bible itself. Don’t forget the material your church provides for you Bible study or small group. These can also provide a great framework for systematic study.
Step Four. Decide how you will memorize Scripture.
Making the Word of God a part of your memory will benefit you tremendously for the purposes of avoiding sin (Psalm 119:11), worshiping God moment by moment, and encouraging others by giving biblical counsel. Perhaps, you should focus your memorization on verses related to the answers to your questions from Step One. Two great memory plans are Fighter Verses and the Topical Memory System. The Fighter Verses app gives lots of tools for aiding in memory. The Topical Memory System helps give someone a basic foundation in key biblical truths.
Step Five. Decide how you will pray.
Prayer aligns our hearts with the heart of God. Read a book like With Christ in the School of Prayer by Andrew Murray to help you orient yourself rightly toward God. A simple and useful device to remember some components of prayer is the “prayer hand” by the Navigators. As a parent, I love to pray for my children using Andrew Case’s free resource, Setting Their Hope on God: Biblical Intercession for Your Children. You can also list the people you know who are lost and pray for them by name. I have a list in the front of my journal. This has allowed me to celebrated as I have been able to record the dates that many friends on the list have come to Christ. It also causes me to weep over friends who do not yet know or have rejected the hope of Christ. Additionally, use a prayer guide like Operation World to pray for the peoples of the world to know Christ.
Step Six. Evaluate.
It is a good idea to schedule monthly reviews of how you are doing in your spiritual growth plan. Frequent stops along the journey will prevent you from falling so far behind that you become discouraged and drop out. A monthly audit allows you to get back on course or make course corrections. Ask yourself questions like:
- Where am I on track with my plan?
- Where have I fallen behind?
- Are the practices I am engaged in helping me grow in Christlikeness? Why or why not?
- What do I need to change?
- What do I need to do differently/keep the same to ensure success?