Many people don’t look to the new year. That’s fine. But some of us do. In the midst of all the planning and goal-setting we are doing for 2015, I’m thinking about spiritual goals. Or, perhaps more accurately, spiritual training.
The idea comes in part from John Ortberg (Living in Christ’s Presence, p139.)
“In relation to spiritual disciplines, the most helpful distinction is the difference between trying to do something and training to do something… If we decided to run a marathon, we would have to train…to train means to arrange our life around those practices that enable us to do what we cannot now do by direct effort. The point of training is to receive power, so we arrange our life around practices through which we get power.”
When he’s talking about power, it’s not so much mystical force as the simple strength or capacity to live more like Jesus. As Ortberg writes, “The disciplined person, the disciple, is someone who is able to do what needs to be done when it needs to be done.”
In teaching about this over the weekend, I suggested five questions to help us train spiritually.
- What does God want me to develop?
- What would maturity look like?
- What are the building blocks of the capacity we want to develop?
- What training plan would help develop those building blocks?
- What would tests/assessments of growth look like?
Here’s a quick illustration.
In Colossians 3, Paul says, “clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” So how could I develop compassion (1)? One example is the Good Samaritan (2). He recognized a need, reoriented time and resources, responded to the need, and returned to make sure it really helped (3). We could start by spending every Monday in 2015 looking for needs (4). When we see one, we can practice responding (5).
That’s a start. Make sense? I’ll expand tomorrow.