The Three Life-long Stages of Spiritual Development

Reflections on Psalm 100 ~ Part 2

In my last article we discussed the three stages of spiritual development that occur over the course of ones lifetime.  If you haven’t read that article, then you’ll need to click here. My goal for this article was to examine how to respond to God and life in each stage of development as well as examine some snares that can trip us up in each of these stages as we journey into our calling, but that is not going to happen today. I got a little side tracked. So look for that in my next article.

In this article I want to state a few observations about the similarities within each stage of spiritual formation along with some responses that need to be embraced during them. So let’s get started.

1. Embrace where you are.

No matter what phase of spiritual development you’re in, you need to embrace where you are. For example, if your in stage 2, and the Holy Spirit is pressing vision into your spirit and mind the natural by product 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 is birthed by the Holy Spirit, don’t buck it.  Embrace it. You understand the goal of stage three is intimacy and deep mutual friendship with God, but one can’t skip to stage three. I’m also not saying a person can’t have an intimate relationship with God in this stage, but what I am saying is if God is filling you with vision, then act on your vision. If you’re in stage one, then know that things are easy right now and rejoice in that. Don’t feel guilty, there will be plenty of trouble waiting on you in phase two. No matter where you are, embrace where you’re at.

2. Lengthen and Deepen Your Vision.

You also need to be aware this 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. Where talking about a minimum of decade in each stage and sometimes three to four decades depending on how long you live. The greater the ambition to leap ahead, generally results in longer delays. 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 your eighty and ninety? What legacy do You long to leave behind when your 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. You must do this.

3.  Understand 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 callings on our life is not what God has called us 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 what God has called you to become.  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 are 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 has God called you to become.

4. Each phase has seasons within it.

We also must understand that each phase of spiritual development also has rotating seasons within that phase.  So it’s possible to be in the “thankfulness stage” 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 one 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 where 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 in my next article in this series I’ll 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.

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