A master potter was telling a story about how difficult it was for her to learn how to center the clay on the potter’s wheel. If the clay is not centered, the potter can’t properly form it. It will become marred and unworkable.
Well, it took her awhile to get the hang of it but when she did, she was able to start molding beautiful pieces of pottery. She was able to mold and shape it just how it needed to be, because it was rightly centered.
Similarly, we as Christians have a master “Potter” who wants to mold and shape us; who wants to conform us into the perfect image of his Son. He will do his part. He will use other people. He will use circumstances as well. But He also uses our choices, our disciplines. 1 Timothy 4:7 (NASB) tells us to discipline ourselves for the purpose of godliness. This is what keeps us centered on his wheel and allows God to conform us into Christ’s image.
We don’t get there by accident. That’s why it is called “discipline.” We don’t just fall into place and become effortlessly molded. No, it takes effort. It takes a desire to stir from our spiritual lethargy. It means turning that desire into a strategy; developing an individual plan for our own spiritual growth and then following it.
Have you ever had the best of intentions to, say, read your Bible daily? Or to pray in the morning and evening? And then, when something else comes up, these things are the first to drop off of the daily schedule?
I know I have. Maybe some of us are better at this than others but it often comes down to taking our head knowledge that God needs to be first in our lives and actually making him first our lives. It often means sitting down and thoughtfully, prayerfully asking God where we need improvement (knowing that we always need improvement), and then making (AND FOLLOWING) a written plan that commits us to make those changes that He leads us to and to discipline ourselves for the purpose of godliness.
I want to make this suggestion to you. I am going to list nine Spiritual Disciplines. The list is certainly not all-inclusive but it is at least enough to get you thinking. The important thing is not that you necessarily implement any or all of these disciplines. The key is that you find some ways to discipline yourself for the purpose of drawing nearer to God, so that He can mold you into the person He has called you to become.
Okay, here they are:
Silence and Solitude
Now, here is what you can do if you want to try this out. I am going to include a link to a sample chart below. You can use this chart or make your own. The idea is to consider your own areas of needed spiritual growth and then design a plan to follow that will help you get there. Below, I just focused on the first two disciplines. You can tailor yours however you want. You can have as few or as many as you want. The one below is set up for a two-week period. You will notice that accountability is in there. I HIGHLY suggest that you get your spouse or a close friend/family member to join you in this, so that you can both benefit from the spiritual growth AND so you can hold one another accountable for following through with your plans (especially when other things start competing for your time).
Spiritual Growth Plan Sample Chart
Please consider implementing a plan for spiritual growth into your life. We would all honestly admit that we need it. I can tell you personally that I use it and that I love it. It is an effective means of directing my focus to God and of intentionally, consistently practicing disciplines that bring me closer to him.
Please let me know if you try it and feel free to offer other suggestions for readers to consider implementing in their own plan.
To God be the glory forever!