“If you are not growing, you are dying.”
– John Maxwell
It’s time to live, my friend.
Have you ever walked through a hard season in life, come out the other side, looked back and thought “I grew so much!”
When I think about my life and the lives of those around me, I see so many examples of hard seasons. Job loss or even a promotion struggle, trauma, death, sickness… The list could go on and on. I’m willing to bet that you have had a hard season in your life that you can look back on and say, “I’m better for it!” This is growth at work. So hard, but so necessary.
I had a season where life slapped me in the face and I felt like I was in the pit of hell whether I wanted to be there or not.
The Bible tells us to expect this:
“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope”
Romans 5: 3-4
We see this play out in many stories in the Bible, too. So many in fact, it was hard to pick just one example, but what comes to mind for me is the story of Joseph.
You can check out Joseph’s story in the book of Genesis (start in chapter 37), but in a nutshell… Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery and he spent 13 years in Egypt, first as a household slave, then in prison for a crime he did not commit before the pharaoh honored Joseph and placed him “over all the land of Egypt” (Genesis 41:41). Talk about a hard season helping you grow!
And once he was in that position, God worked through him to save many, many people from starvation during a famine. I love how Joseph phrases it here:
“So Joseph said to his brothers, “Come near to me, please.” And they came near. And he said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt.”
–Genesis 45:4-8 (emphasis mine)
The foundation God laid in Joseph during those 13 hard years equipped him to preserve the remnant of Israel’s family that would eventually lead to Jesus. As my friend Jen says, “God does some of His best work in the valley.”
I think the challenge is that, many times, we walk accidentally into growth. Joseph wasn’t planning to be sold into slavery, and no one in their right mind would choose that path of their own accord! This type of growth is unavoidable, but I want to talk about the opposite of that. Instead of falling into the pit, how do we climb the mountain?
What happens when we choose to grow intentionally?
Please hear me: I think it’s important for us to love ourselves as God created us, but we should also be choosing to intentionally grow in the season He’s planted us. You must show yourself some grace – you are purposely made and should make choices to intentionally get better every day and grow in your faith. A good friend of mine rarely makes a post without the hashtag #bettereveryday. This friend was given the purpose of raising a beautiful child with very special needs. You could say that he was placed into the “pit” beyond his control, but he and his wife choose to intentionally live #bettereveryday.
So, how do we grow intentionally?
When I say it’s important to grow on purpose, I mean that this is a choice we need to make. Not once, but over and over and over again. We don’t ever “arrive” – growth is a life-long pursuit, but we can live it on purpose because we are made for a purpose.
It’s seeing a gap in your skill set (and doing something about it). It’s seeking to do something you have never done like write a book, travel to Europe for a month, or lead, dare I say it…, a Bible study at your office (eeek… scary, I know!). Real talk: I know a corporate VP of Sales who seeks out working mommas open to faith and they jump on a call every Wednesday morning to set their day up strong in the Word! Ha! Talk about living for Christ in the workplace. I’m smiling. Are you smiling? ;o)
“Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.”Proverbs 13:11 ESV
I believe many Christians struggle to understand that the growth tactics you use at work can help you grow in your faith, too, and to grow in your faith will help you grow in all areas of your life. I spent many hours stepping out of my comfort zone in my work, but not understanding how to do that in my faith, nor realizing that when both intersect, it exponentially compounds.
Here’s where things get tricky. I read a book recently that opened with: you’re going to read these things, understand that I am right, and even understand that it can help you, but you’re still not going to do them.
If you’re raising your hand in your head thinking “that’s so me!”… girl, I am often right there with you. The “how” is the hardest part, so I want to make it very simple for you to start.
One of the most tactical books I have ever read or taught on this concept is John C. Maxwell’s “The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth.” You should read it, but, I have compiled many of John’s laws and lessons from others into a few emails for you. The series is filled with tactical tips about how to grow in your faith, as well as other areas of your life. I hope this helps you (and it’s free)!