Life and Growth

I am not sure many people stop and evaluate the important areas of their life, asking themselves if they are growing and developing. If growth is going to happen, we need to be very intentional and pro-active because living in this world is like living on a down escalator. Everything is deteriorating.

I remember several years ago my wife had a little garden in our backyard. She was very attentive to it and it was really a beautiful garden. Winter came and went and she decided not to pursue the garden in the spring. I noticed in late May her once beautiful garden had become a plot of weeds.

The bottom line is that if you want to see any area of your life deteriorate, just do nothing. Life itself, just the passing of time leads to decay. This is true in the physical world, and in the world of relationships, but most significantly our spiritual relationship with God.

James Dobson says the natural tendency is for husbands and wives to drift away from each other unless they work at staying together.

To provide an analogy it is as though they are sitting in separate rowboats on a choppy lake. If they don’t paddle vigorously to stay in the same neighborhood, one will drift to the north of the lake and the other to the south.

That is exactly what happens when marital partners get too busy or distracted to maintain their love. If they don’t take the time for romantic activities and experiences that draw them together, something precious begins to slip away.

It doesn’t have to be that way, of course, but the currents of life will separate them unless efforts are made to remain together.

I think it is important to know that there are two types of growth you see in the lives of professing Christians. The first is mechanical growth. It revolves around activities, trying to be religious, doing your best to live the Christian life. The Pharisees epitomized mechanical growth.

The second type of growth is called organic growth, which is what Jesus desires for His people. It is internal and comes through an internal power source, the Holy Spirit. Mechanical change comes from external force.

I read of a pastor who was asked by a man if he would be willing to counsel he and his wife. The pastor was told by this man, “My wife is about to leave me. I can’t believe it. She has agreed to come to counselling if you will meet with us?” The pastor agrees and they meet. She goes through a list of grievances. She says, “Look, you’re domineering. We never mutually come to decisions. You just order me around. Then, you aren’t emotionally vulnerable. You never open up to me.”

Then, she goes down the list. He looks at her and he says, “Well, I’ve heard you say these things. I didn’t realize they grieved you this much. I didn’t realize you were ready to leave me. Of course, I’ll change. I will do everything you ask.” She says, “Well, all right.” Then they go home, and for a while, he changes. He does everything she wants.

However, once he is pretty sure she is back to stay, he goes back to his old ways because he is no longer afraid she is going to leave him.

What has happened here? The initial change in the man was mechanical compliance through external force. There was no internal organic transformation.

Jesus gives us a picture of organic growth in John 15 where Jesus explains He is like a vine, we are branches. The sap that flows into the branches from the vine is the Holy Spirit flowing in us. The end result is that the branches bear fruit. This is a picture of organic growth.

The question we must ask is organic growth taking place in our lives. If not, I would remind you again, if you want to see any area of your life deteriorate, just do nothing.

Richard E Simmons III is the founder and Executive Director of The Center for Executive Leadership and a best-selling author.


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