Christmas is a time I take inventory of areas of growth in my own life, and begin to set a course for the new year. As I reflect on growth in my own life and in working with others, I have realized several helpful principles for growing:
Principle 1: Bring your “stuff” into the light.
Just as plants, trees, fruits, and flowers need sunshine to grow, we need light to grow. Jesus once addressed His followers with these words,
“I am the world’s Light. No one who follows me stumbles around in the darkness. I provide plenty of light to live in.” [John 8:12]
He is for us to grow and mature. He came 2000 years ago to bring light to the world. When we ignore or hide our struggle, we hope it will simply go away. But it doesn’t. It grows in unhealthy ways until it becomes too hard to hide. When we have the courage to be authentic and honest with God and others about our shortcomings and sins, we allow ourselves to be exposed to light, which becomes a catalyst for healing, health and real life.
What issue do you need to stop ignoring and bring into the light this year?
Principle 2: Neither contempt nor blame leads to growth.
Contempt is an unhealthy response to feeling the shame of our weaknesses, shortcomings and sin. It is the feeling that we are unworthy. Contempt is not “I did a bad thing!” but “I AM bad”; it is not “That was a stupid thing I did!” but “I AM stupid.” Contempt turns inward on ourselves and leads to self-condemnation.
The Christmas story again offers some insight for us. The Bible says that God did not send his Son into the world that first Christmas day to condemn us, but in order that we might be saved through him [John 3:16-17]. The Apostle Paul, who has helped many others grow through his writings knew the value of acceptance and freedom from condemnation in the growth process when he encouraged us with these words:
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” [Romans 8:1].
The flip side of contempt is blame. Blame is like contempt turned at others. While blaming can diffuse the pain and shame of feeling vulnerable for things we’ve done, it fails to take personal ownership, which does not lead to growth. We only grow when we take ownership of our wrong-doings and accept blame when we make mistakes. [Check out 12 Sins We Blame on Others]
In what area of your life will you take ownership this year?
Principle 3: Forgiveness brings healing in the growth process.
Guilt that leads to shame, contempt, condemnation, hiding, or blaming will not produce growth in our lives. It is only when guilt leads us to sadness and confession that we experience forgiveness that helps us grow. The great leader King David penned these words from his own experience of great failure and guilt.
“What happiness for those whose guilt has been forgiven! What joys when sins are covered over! What relief for those who have confessed their sins and God has cleared their record. There was a time when I wouldn’t admit what a sinner I was. But my dishonesty made me miserable and filled my days with frustration. All day and all night Your hand was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water on a sunny day until I finally admitted all my sins to You and stopped trying to hide them. I said to myself, ‘I will confess them to the Lord.’ And You forgave me! All my guilt is gone.” [Psalm 32:1-6, TLB].
Where do YOU need to receive the gift of forgiveness? Is there someone in your life that needs to receive YOUR gift of forgiveness this Christmas?
Jesus is the reason for this season of Christmas…and He is the reason for our growth. So remember the Christmas story this year as you set your course for growth.
- Jesus brings light to areas of struggle to be a catalyst for healing and growth.
- Jesus did not come into the world to condemn us. If He gave His life for us, He views us as having great worth and value. Contempt for ourselves and contempt for others (blame) has no place in growth.
- Jesus was born to die so we have forgiveness for our guilt and sin.
♫ ♫ Light and Life to all He brings. Risen with healing in His wings. Hark the herald angels sing! Glory to the newborn king! ♫ ♫
Have a Merry Christmas and a growing year!
If you are interested in growing more, you might check out these other posts:
- 4 Qualities of Wholehearted People
- Superman vs. Achilles: Why self-awareness is crucial for a leader
- Focus on the roots, not the fruits
- Whatever you water grows
If you are interested in growing spiritually this year, check out the resources on Cru.org.
Photo credit: Monsterkoi