Step 10: The Intentionality of Spiritual Formation
Spirituality doesn’t just happen. Sanctification doesn’t just happen. Maturity in Christ doesn’t just happen. We have to actively engage in the process of growth, willingly, intentionally, humbly, passionately, with commitment. We must ask ourselves: What will it take for me to grow in the Lord and foster my spiritual vitality? How can I grow as an individual and as a member of the Body of Christ?
The first two chapters of Titus tell us that it’s a particular kind of person, that is, a person with character who grows. Paul describes the flaws of the pagans in Crete. They lack purity and good conscience. We, on the other hand, most NOT reflect the culture we live in, but be salt and light in it. Our actions need to be consistent with our beliefs and our words and our confession of faith. Titus teaches us that we are to lead by example, by being people of character.
In fact, without character, all of our intelligence, gifts, hard work and education are wasted. Character, specifically, the character of Christ, is the fruit of an intentional spiritual formation program. We are to receive general instruction in character (from the pulpit in our Sunday service, for example), but also specific instruction aimed at who we are and our place in life (young men instructed in a small group setting that speaks to them in particular, for example). There is also one-on-one mentoring and the spiritual direction of a mature born-again, Spirit-filled Christian for us as individuals.
Re: spiritual directors: they should be:
1. Someone with whom you’re comfortable
2. Someone who understands we’re seeking in our prayers and spirituality
3. Someone able to respond objectively
4. Someone who is spiritually more mature and ahead of us in their spiritual journey
I took a course in spiritual direction years ago. The text we used was Holy Listening: The Art of Spiritual Direction by Margaret Guenther. I recommend it for those who are seeking a spiritual director and those who are called by the Lord to be a spiritual director.
We can become people of character if we, the branches, remain connected to Christ, the vine (John 16). Evidence of our union with Christ is seen in our holiness, our joy, our wisdom. An authentic spirituality is Christo-centric, not church-centric. Some people define their spirituality in terms of religious activity in their church. Here in Canada, the United Church of Canada is guilty of that. Sadly, it is more of a secular humanist organization than a part of the Body of Christ.
With that, I conclude this series on developing a spiritual formation program. I have enjoyed going through the material a second time. The first time I was focused on getting the information into my head and getting the essays written on time. This time around I have been able to think of spiritual formation for myself personally and read additional material from Eugene Peterson, Dallas Willard and a variety of writers here at Bible.org.
I pray that all who read these threads may be blessed in their spiritual journeys.