In my last article, we discussed the three stages of spiritual development that occur over the course of one’s lifetime. If you haven’t read that article, then you’ll need to click here. In this article, we will examine how to respond to God and life in each stage of development, and in the next installment, we will examine some of the snares that can trip us up in each of these stages as we journey into our calling.
Listed below are a few observations that point out the similarities within each stage of spiritual formation along with some responses to embrace while in the midst of them.
1. Embrace Where You Are
No matter what phase of spiritual development in which you find yourself, you need to embrace where you are. For example, if you are in stage two, the praise phase, and the Holy Spirit is pressing vision into your spirit and mind, the natural byproduct will be a longing to see that vision fulfilled. In many cases, depending on your personality type, there will also be a correlating drive to accomplish and excel. This vision and this drive are birthed by the Holy Spirit, so don’t buck it. Embrace it.
Additionally, we know that the goal of stage three is intimacy and deep mutual friendship with God, but we can’t just skip to stage three and forget about the other two stages. Let me be clear, this doesn’t mean that a person can’t have an intimate relationship with God in the first or second stage; of course, they can!
But if you’re in stage two and God is filling you with vision, then act on your vision. If you’re in the first stage of spiritual life development, be aware that things are flowing easily right now and rejoice in that. Don’t feel guilty because there will be plenty of trouble waiting for you in phase two. The bottom line is that no matter where you are in spiritual life growth, embrace that place.
2. Lengthen and Deepen Your Vision
You also need to be aware that spiritual development will require resolve over the long haul. Most people drop out of the race because their vision never extended beyond the next curve. When we talk about stages and phases of spiritual development, we’re not talking about months and years. We are talking about a minimum of decades in each stage and, sometimes, three to four decades depending on how long you live. A greater ambition to leap ahead generally correlates into a longer delay in the process. Believe me, I am painfully aware of this reality.
You must understand that you’re setting your vision for the course of a lifetime. Who do you want to be in the Lord when you’re in your golden years? What legacy do you long to leave behind when you’re lying on your deathbed? Who do you want to be in heaven? What eternal rewards do you long to accumulate? Most leaders excel at expanding the width of their vision, but most leaders don’t excel at expanding the depth and length of their vision.
3. Understand That Your “Being” Calling Trumps Your “Doing” Calling
You also must keep in mind, especially if you’re a reader from the Western World, that, ultimately, the calling on your life isn’t what God has called you to do, but it’s what God has called you to be. There is a “doing” piece of the puzzle, but the thrust of the work of the Holy Spirit is focused on who God has called you to “be.”
I know it’s not what we want, but it is the absolute truth. If this is the truth, then we might as well cooperate with the Holy Spirit. We’re called to be like Christ. We were expected to reflect His image from the beginning. You must remember the Father revealed Himself as the great I AM, not the great I Do. Assignments are important, but you must understand the call “to be” trumps the call “to do.”
Actions are important, but God is looking for actions that are aligned with who we are. It takes a long time to discover our identity and accept who we’re to become; then, it takes the rest of our life to align who we are with the words we speak and the actions we take.
The Holy Spirit is developing you to such a degree that everything that flows from you flows from the essence of your being. The Holy Spirit is perfecting the congruency that flows from your life. It’s easy to get pulled into the paradigm trap of success and failure thinking, especially if you view your calling in terms of successful actions and results. Understanding your “being” calling does lessen the sting of apparent failure, but it doesn’t eliminate it. So, in times of success or failure, zero in on who God has called you to become.
4. Each Phase Has Seasons Within It
We also must understand that each phase of spiritual development has rotating seasons within that phase. So it’s possible to be in the “thanksgiving phase” and have a winter of the soul. It’s also possible to be in the “friendship phase” and have a season of spring where we’re tilling the soil for a new endeavor. But we must understand that just as the seasons change during the calendar year, the seasons change within our phases of spiritual formation.
No matter where you are on your journey, there will be springs when you’re sowing into vision and dreams; summers of fun, labor, and gathering fruit and produce; autumns of abundant harvest; and winters of depression and cold. We’re not promised a continual summer until heaven where the trees produce fruit twelve months of the year. Whatever season you’re in, just know it will change, it’s the nature of living on this side of eternity.
I promise, the next article in this series is where we will talk about how to respond to God in each stage of development, and we’ll examine some snares that can trip us up in each stage as we journey into our calling.
This is an updated edition of a post originally posted on www.royalperspectives.com
Featured Image by EJ Yao