Appropriate Environment. My wife has a book called the Sunset Guide to Plants (something like that, but I am in bed writing this post and I am not going to go find it to give you the right title – wait…Google), it’s actually called Western Garden Book. It gives you the types of plants that will thrive in your particular climate. The premise being that plants that thrive in Washington don’t necessarily do well in the Southern California desert region we live in, no matter how much you like the plant.
Growth occurs when the appropriate environment is supplied. Things like soil, moisture, sunlight all contribute to growth. In the human realm the environment has to do with the people, places and challenges in which we surround ourselves. So if you want to grow look around and see what the climate is where you do your living.
Who are the people in your life? Are they positive people? healthy people? People who have a strong life compass? People who are ahead of you, that is older, more mature, stronger and wiser? The people we are with tend to shape our minds and hearts. They can encourage us or destroy us. Make wise decisions about your associations.
Closely related are the places of your life. These are homes, workplaces, church, clubs, hang-outs. Do the places I go encourage me to grow? If not, maybe a change is in order. Maybe I am in the right place, I am just not invested in the program – if that is the case then engage.
Are you challenged by your activities? Challenge pushes us to move beyond complacency and try new things. Last October I rode in the Tour de Perris, a century ride sponsored by the city of Perris to commemorate their centennial anniversary. A century is the bicycle riders marathon, 100 miles on a bicycle. This was challenging, and in order to accomplish it I surrounded myself with others who were like-minded and we put ourselves in a place (our bikes) to carry out the challenge. We all grew as a result.
Appropriate Elements. You have to feed plants the right things if they are to grow in a healthy manner. In the same way, if you are going to grow you have to address the needs in your life and apply the appropriate nutrients to your life so that you will grow. The human body needs food, water and rest. The human spirit needs a healthy sense of identity, security, and purpose to grow. The human body really grows and matures, then simply needs maintenance until death. The healthy habits of childhood simply need to be repeated in the physical realm. At 52 I am no longer looking to grow physically.
My spirit continues to be in need of development and in order to grow I nurture my sense of security (faith and belief, trust), identity (my relational knowledge of God which is characterized as “son-ship”), and purpose (engaging in my place in the family of God, the kingdom). When I focus on developing these three areas of my life, bad habits fall to the wayside and the fruit of God’s Spirit are displayed in me. Some of the practices that encourage this are: repentance, believing, trusting, humbling myself, submitting, obeying, resisting temptation, and immersing myself in truth. Some of the things that serve as blocks are: scepticism, self-righteousness, independence, unbelief, worry, temptation, the power of the lie.
Appropriate Energy. These things do not happen just because. I must invest energy in the process. Developing relationships with the right people and placing myself in the right contexts and challenging myself to do greater things takes effort. Working on my faith is just that, a godly work which takes time and effort. Discipline and discernment compel me to find this new direction in life so that I may grow.