Our job is to equip them with the basic tools and resources so that they can spend the rest of their lives daily pursuing their relationship with Christ and faithfully serving him in the world. Hybels described it as making people responsible for their own spiritual growth. We provide the environment for them to grow. We offer tools to help them grow. And we hope to motivate and inspire them to grow.
~Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White, Adam Hamilton
“I’m not being fed.”
It’s an excuse I’ve heard people use, both to me and as a complaint about why they left a previous church. It’s a terrible excuse. It sounds spiritual. It sounds like they want to have this deep spiritual experience, but just can’t because of the circumstances surrounding them. If they only change the scenery, then everything will get better. By some sort of magic, though, they think everything will change.
It’s kind of like the person who is getting married for the seventh time. They really think it’s going to “stick” this time around. Of course, it won’t. They didn’t change anything in their lives. And, perhaps, just perhaps, maybe they are the ones who are the problem in the first place…. nah…. It’s always been the other person, right?
We always want things to happen instead of wanting to put in the work to make them happen. I blame ‘80’s movie exercise montages for this assumption. You see Rocky working out to Eye of the Tiger, and the next thing you know, you hit the gym expecting to be able to jump into the boxing ring after 4:05 of jamming. Then you get punched in the face by reality.
Spiritual growth is another one of those things that doesn’t just happen. It takes time. It takes effort. It takes a dedication that is all too rare these days. There’s nothing exciting about it — at least, not on a regular basis. Sure, there are peaks along the way. There are breakthrough moments that get us pumped and excited, but they aren’t going to be a daily occurrence. Some days, it will seem like a grind, and we don’t want to do it. Those are the days when it becomes all the more important.
As a teacher, preacher, spiritual guide, whatever you want to call it, the goal is not to serve up fully prepared meals three times a day for people. It’s impossible to do it for every person in your care. Rather than being a personal chef, it’s more like being a culinary teacher. We teach the tools and techniques that makes it possible for people to put together a good meal for themselves. And, yes, every once in a while, we need to microwave the meal or make a pass in the drive thru. It’s not great. It’s not ideal. But it’s acceptable.
The point is, as a disciple of Jesus Christ, you should be able to feed yourself.