Directions for Spiritual Growth

By Rev. Kimberly  Gladden

"I want to grow in Christ. Now what?" If you are asking that question, this article offers practical tips on how to grow in your relationship with Jesus.

I was given directions to go from my office to a location some miles away. The directions were thorough, but led through winding back roads. Being directionally challenged, I got lost. There was nothing wrong with the directions, but I needed a more direct route (read one turn). That experience caused me to reflect on how we approach growing spiritually. Here are some ideas to explore if you're thinking,

"I want to grow in Christ. Now what?"

Daily Devotions and Prayer

This one is essential for me, my day's anchor. I set aside time first thing in the morning to read the Scriptures and a devotional thought followed by prayer. My mind and heart are then ready for whatever the day holds. The Word of God is so powerful! I used to do my devotions at night, but that didn’t work as well. I had already made too many blunders during the day, so it wasn’t as effective.

Small Groups

Being part of a caring community of people who are all interested in growing can bring life-transforming results. In the loving security of a small group, I’ve seen people work through many issues, and there is the comfort of not having to do life alone.

A healthy small group is there for you in all life’s moments.

A healthy small group is there for you in all life’s moments, happy and sad, and friendships can be formed that are deeper than a casual “Good to see you this morning” flung out on the way into or out of the worship service.

Take a Class

In some churches, organized small groups are not an available option. But almost all churches have growth classes in either a Sunday school, Bible study, or special series format. Classes are a wonderful way to learn in community. You might consider also auditing a class from a local seminary or Bible school if you want to delve deeper. The point is to be a lifelong learner in faith matters.

Mission Trips

Challenge your life, discover a new culture and new things about yourself. As a former missions pastor, I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen people come home from a mission trip changed. What better way to learn about the value of being content than to sit with a man in Zambia living with AIDS who has only two shirts to his name?

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen people come home from a mission trip changed.

When we prayed with him to receive Christ, and later asked what would make his life better, he only wanted a blanket to keep him warm at night. It’s a joy to be a blessing, and God uses such experiences also to humble and teach us many things.

Mentoring Relationship

Seek out a friendship with someone that you also admire spiritually. It may be someone older. Find out the lessons they’ve learned along the way. Set regular times to meet, pray, and encourage each other, and also ask questions you only feel safe asking a friend.

Being Intentional

The key is your relationship with Jesus Christ. Progress comes by being intentional. Pray for the help of the Holy Spirit. Remember the adage: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step?”

Why not start walking?


Valuable soul work can be done by going away for a short time. Find your space and type of retreat: large group, small group, or camping in the woods. Personally, cruises are restorative for me.

Unplugging from social media, daily responsibilities, and a to-do list allows the inner you to breathe, regroup, and focus on spiritual matters.


Gather with others and experience the impact of learning in a group setting on a topic of interest. I try to attend one conference a year to be in fellowship with Christians outside of my immediate community, and to hear what’s happening in the larger church world.

Social Holiness

Serving people in need, being Jesus’ hands and feet in ministry, is right and good and helps you grow spiritually. Service discipleship breathes life into individuals and through individuals into the church. Pray for God to give you eyes to see and a heart to serve.