The core theme of Spiritual Gifts Reimagined (SGR) is that spiritual gifts must be integrated with spiritual growth. To be clearer, I teach that discovering and developing your gifts (the wonderful potentials God has given you) depend on whether or not you’re growing. But I have two questions for you. First, what is spiritual growth? And second, what is your level of interest in growing?

These two questions are intertwined, but that second one probes whether you or I truly want to grow. If I don’t have a desire to grow, I won’t be too interested in learning more about what growth is.

This question about whether you desire to grow (or not), isn’t simple. It involves you being honest with yourself. And most of us need to be pushed to get honest with ourselves.

To admit that I want or need to grow is to say I know my status quo isn’t what it should be. That takes humility. To admit I need to grow means I accept that I must apply myself to a process that takes time and work. That means making that growth more important than enjoying a satisfying life now. If you’re tempted to stop reading this blog at this point, you’ve just hit that strong pull in each of us to not bother with growing.

In the Bible, it is the New Testament epistles where we find the most explicit exhortations to grow spiritually, such as 1 Peter 3:18, “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” These letters clarify that Christians are not born mature into God’s family—we each have a huge need to always be spiritually growing. But the challenge to grow is a theme that permeates all of Scripture, and we must bring our openness for growth to the Bible when we read and study it.

Just about everything in our human culture discourages you from growing. Focus on what you deserve, assert your rights, satisfy your wants, enjoy amusements. Growth is counter-cultural. Even in church, we often prioritize being comfortable over growing. You must decide: will you pursue growth or not?

So what is spiritual growth? First, it’s not just about growing in the “spiritual” area and not other areas of life. If you are growing in your relationship with God, it will impact what you do in all other dimensions of your life.

In the modern world we divide ourselves up into the psychological, emotional, educational, social, career, financial, character, physical, relational and other areas of our lives. But you are a whole person, not a “lego” person made of different colored blocks. God’s Word focuses on your spiritual growth, though, because the spiritual dimension is at the core of you. Growth in that area naturally leads to growth in all the other facets of your life.

Second, I mentioned that growth is counter-cultural. Paul is talking about spiritual growth when he tells us, in Romans 12:2, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” This clues us in that there is a great war going on. We are being fought over, and we each play the key role in which side will claim us. The world is seeking to claim us as mind- and heart-numbed robots. Growth means not conforming, but being transformed.

Third, that means that your life’s trials are battles God wants to help you fight. What is frustrating you right now? What is stretching you? What is angering you? What is discouraging you? What is tempting you? What is causing you to simply “coast”? Prioritizing growth means seeing that all these experiences are the necessary battles that must be fought in your journey of growth. (See James 1:2-4.) These are battles well worth fighting, and worth fighting well.

Finally, this journey of growth is also the journey of gifting. To become a person who powerfully displays your gifted potential, you must be growing. The amazing truth is that the more you grow into Christlikeness, the more you grow into who you uniquely are. This is an adventure you don’t want to miss! Grow into your gifts!

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