Spiritual growth begins with a language change

Christians, myself included, love the word 'growth'.  We talk about growing churches.  The conference seeks ways to grow new churches.  We ask ministers about growing edges.  We provoke lay members to grow spiritually.  We talk about growing missionally and spiritually.  Growth is good.

The problem is growth tends to invoke other words like flourishing and larger or bigger or stronger or mature or just all together better.  Growth generally does not invoke words like cutting back or prune or stunt or even die.  So when we talk about spiritual growth we tend to look for things and ways that essentially allow us to keep our lives the way they are without having to give up much of anything we might consider 'growth'.

Spiritual growth becomes something for which something we pursue.  We seek out opportunities for spiritual growth in order to be wiser or stronger or more kind or loving.

And the fact of the matter is all that sounds really great and even sounds like something Christians should/would do.

I am not convinced that Christians should be seeking out spiritual growth.

It might serve the Christian better to identify that the growth that comes from individual discernment is indeed growth but it is growth that is ego oriented.  When we are seeking to grow ourselves then we are seeking to meet our own needs and desires.

Rather than talking about spiritual growth Christians might be better served to talk about spiritual formation.

Growth is a direct action verb.  We believe there are things that I do in order to grown my spirit.  On the other hand, Formation is a indirect action verb.  When we are in a formation process we identify there are variables that are outside our control and there are aspects of the process for which we might not ever choose to do on our own.

The Christian life is one of surrender to the Spirit of God.  We are called into being formed into disciples of Jesus Christ.  We are called to be involved indirectly with our maturation in that the Spirit of God the main shaper of our lives.

If we want to grow spiritually, then perhaps we should begin by asking ourselves, "Do I want to grow spiritually or do I want to be formed by God?"