By Laura Bennett
Is there a way to measure your spiritual growth? Central to the Christian faith is a desire to become more Christ-like and see our lives reflect Jesus’ character, peace and intuition. But how do we know we’re getting any closer to that goal?
It’s safe to say obtaining Christlikeness will be a lifelong pursuit, but pastor and author Justin Kendrick says there are habits we can cultivate that support such an aim.
“A lot of Christians fail to define what spiritual growth is,” Justin said.
“Does it mean you know more Bible verses? Does it mean that you attend church more often?
“Theologian Jonathan Edwards says real spiritual maturity can be measured by growth in agape love: in the love that we have for God, and the love that we have for others.”
“So the question of how I grow in love really comes down eventually to habits. I have to create habits that teach my heart to love people more.”
In his new book Bury Your Ordinary: Practical Habits of a Heart Fully Alive, Justin explores what some of those habits would be, and challenges us to consider how the building blocks of our life address our ultimate aim of becoming more like Jesus.
“One way to measure love is to look at what you value,” Justin said.
“Jesus says, ‘where your treasure is there your heart will be also’ (Matthew 6:21).”
If we want to gauge how loving we’re becoming, we have to look at what we give most of our time and energy to.
Source: Justin Kendrick Facebook, the Kendrick family
Interestingly, Justin said, developing a love for God and growing in it, doesn’t come by ticking off all the “Christian tasks” like “quiet time, sharing my faith, and listening to the Holy Spirit”, but instead pursuing Him before all else.
“Culture teaches us that you have to discover your passions and then you’re successful once you obtain them, but Jesus says life is found by discovering Him,” Justin said.
“If you’ll aim your whole life at discovering Him, He’ll grow in you a passion for the things that make you more like Him.
“One way to know you’re growing in love is that you’re more passionate about the things of God today than you were a year ago,” – pastor and author Justin Kendrick
One habit Justin has found personally fulfilling – and a test of his discipline – is to spend the first hour of his day alone with God, be that in prayer, scripture reading or simply listening.
“Just that habit alone is revolutionary and really disruptive,” he said.
“It can feel legalistic if you don’t understand grace, you can start thinking, ‘am I doing all this to make God like me?’ and He already loves you – that’s why He sent Christ – but we do need to have a reorientation.
“My attitude is, if we can spend five hours a day on social media, and another six watching TV, what would happen if we just gave God an hour in the morning and centred our lives on Him?”
Justin’s book Bury Your Ordinary: Practical Habits of a Heart Fully Alive is out now.
About the Author: Laura is a media professional, broadcaster and writer from Sydney, Australia.