As I look back on my life, I can see that many times I would try to apply a quick fix to spiritual issues. I would always get excited by the latest book that would promise something along the lines of “40-Days to Purity”, or “6-Months to Freedom”, etc. Part of what excited me about books like these is that I was attracted to the promise of a quick fix in no time at all. In 40-days I will never struggle again, or in 6 months this difficult area will be gone from my life forever. I simply set myself up for disappointment and discouragement as I was looking to a time-frame for healing and restoration, and avoiding the necessity of spiritual disciplines and 1-on-1 discipleship and mentorship. While I have taken tremendous steps of growth through resources that I have read/listened to on my own, or have been recommended to me, I have also learned some deeper lessons over the last few years.
Discipleship Requires a Person
I have found that life-changing discipleship requires more than my Kindle or a podcast. It requires interaction with someone. There have been times in my discipleship process when something difficult or challenging has been shared with me, or pointed out to me. I had nowhere to go and nowhere to hide. I couldn’t just close the book or turn off the podcast; I had to choose how to respond. And while those times were uncomfortable and difficult, they were necessary. I thank God for the person, or persons, who stuck with me through those times and in love didn’t let me run away. You can learn a lot from books, podcasts, and online sermons, but those resources cannot replicate the depth of relationship that comes from 1-on-1 discipleship with someone you trust. I am reminded of the need for discipleship when I reflect on this verse,
“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”
It’s More Than a 40-Day Course
Many of us like quick fixes. But one thing I have learned about quick fixes is that the quality of success is typically low, and the quick fix doesn’t usually last very long. For a long time now, I wanted spiritual growth that came with as minimal effort and as little discomfort as possible. However, with that mindset I soon found out that I wasn’t really growing. I was simply going from bestseller to bestseller and spiritual fad to spiritual fad – extending my spiritual network but not planting spiritual roots. So I stopped pursuing the newest trend, and I started to commit to that which has been around for thousands of years. I committed to the spiritual disciplines of consistent prayer and the study of God’s Word. And as I take one day at a time I find encouragement in these verses,
“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”
Growth Can’t Be Guaranteed
I have also learned that growth is a choice. When I am looking for the quick fix, I tend to hold on to the guarantee that my life or my situation will be better once I complete a course or finish a book. While I may have come away with a deeper sense of self-awareness or even practical tools from a course or book, I soon found out that I needed a community of people around me to help me process the lessons I was learning and apply the tools I was given. When I look back on my life, I have seen that the great seasons of growth that have taken place have not happened through isolation, but rather through inviting others to come alongside of me. While no book can guarantee growth, choosing growth is a lot easier when there is a community of fellow believers to support, encourage and inspire me to a new level of spiritual maturity.
“For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”
As men of God let us forego the quick fixes of spiritual fads and remain steadfast to the long-term discipleship process. I have learned that while the pursuit of growth and Christ-likeness is not always easy, I have never regretted it.
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