Over the last few years, I have taken on a new hobby: gardening. I am still not very good at it. In the first season or two, it was a steep learning curve trying to research and determine what was best to grow in the environment I had and then how to facilitate continuous conditions for that growth to occur. I would start to feel like I had it all figured out, and then the pests would come in, creating more research to be done. It was quite the process, and I started to realize that doing it correctly required a lot more intentionality than I thought. This hobby has also given God a lot of opportunities to show me how our Spiritual growth can be very similar. 2 Peter 3:18 says, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and forever! Amen.”
Like gardening, spiritual growth can look a little different for different people. We are all at varied stages of faith, and our faith walk can look different as the seasons change. The goal is not to reach perfection but instead to make progress. Intentionally making room for Christ to move in your life. My prayer is that you seek Spiritual growth with a desire to learn and connect with your Savior more in the coming days.
Set a prayer goal.
Set a realistic goal to pray more than you did in 2023. Make it one that works for your lifestyle. Set aside a prayer time and maybe even a designated location. If that does not seem doable, create a habit of praying throughout your day, wherever you are—every day on your lunch break or in the car with your kids. Maybe start writing in a prayer journal to help you stay focused during prayer time. Prayer can often feel awkward. We can start to feel like we have to do it a certain way or at a specific time for it to matter. It does not have to be a formal conversation or even spoken out loud. Our heavenly Father simply wants us to pause and connect with Him daily (Philippians 4:6-7).
Scripture is clear that we are to use our gifts to serve others (1 Peter 4:10). Time spent in service to others has always provided opportunities for God to speak to my heart. Sometimes, it was through those whom I served alongside that encouraged my faith. Other times, it comes in the response of those I am serving. There have even been times when the simple act of serving, even when I do not feel like it, but learning to be obedient to what He has for me is a lesson on how to serve and love well. No matter what it looks like or what our heavenly Father has in store for you, I do know that He will use it to help others while simultaneously growing your faith.
Read scripture more.
Like a prayer goal, I encourage you to set a realistic goal to read your Bible more than you did in 2023. Remember, the goal is progress, not perfection. Intentionally download an app that sends you a verse a day. Maybe find a Bible reading plan that helps give you accountability as you progress throughout the year. Find a friend to do it with so that you can encourage each other to read your Bible more. Make a realistic goal and give yourself grace as you do it in whatever way works for you.
Seek a Godly mentor.
This one probably requires you to get outside of your comfort zone the most. However, scripture tells us that we are to be in deep fellowship with other Christians, praying together (James 5:16). It gives great accountability in unison with Godly wisdom from someone who has a strong faith in the Lord. Pray for the wisdom and discernment to see who may be a great mentor for your faith walk. Then, reach out to them and pursue that relationship. If you already have a mentor, I encourage you to take it one step further and pray about becoming the mentor for someone else that God will lead you to.
Start a Bible study.
Whether you purchase one to do on your own, join an online group, find one at a local church, or do one with just one friend, I definitely recommend doing a study in some way. Participating in Bible studies has given me great opportunities for growth as well as encouragement, knowing that I am not alone in my struggles. Bible studies are a great way to stay focused on spiritual growth by studying specific books of the Bible, topics of interest, and even ones that may speak to specific struggles you may need help navigating. If you need a place to start, here are some places I would suggest:
Choose a Bible verse for the year.
After seeing the popular trend to choose a word for the year, for the last two years, I have been inspired to pray. God reveals a Bible verse for me instead. In the weeks surrounding the New Year, I challenge myself to pray over a verse that will guide my faith in the year to come. As I read scripture in those weeks, God directs my heart to one verse that stands out amongst the ones I have been reading. Then, I intentionally write it down and put it somewhere that I can reflect on it throughout the year. In moments when you are feeling overwhelmed or lost, that verse can become a way to remind you of God’s faithfulness and guidance for your life.