In my last post I introduced the idea of a training program for your spiritual life. I developed some themes based on parallels with my training program for long distance running.
Today I want to look at the idea of a spiritual training program needing to be tailored specifically to each individual.
My running program took into account a number of areas: specific goals, previous running history, previous injuries, current running patterns, and personal motivators.
Let’s apply these five areas to our spiritual lives:
Specific goals: this area deserves separate treatment but for now let me plant this idea for you: God will direct us toward specific spiritual goals that connect to where we are at in our spiritual journey relative to where God is leading us and the destiny that He has for each of us. It is important to ask God to help us set appropriate goals for our lives.
Previous history: We all have some degree of experience related to spirituality. Some more than others, but we all have a unique history that has shaped and impacted who we are today spiritually. This includes previous church experience, exploration of other spiritual perspectives and belief systems. They for our paradigms of thinking, our spiritual biases and impact and form our current beliefs related to God.
Previous injuries: this is different from ‘previous history’ in that it deals with overtly painful experiences: usually disappointments in God and in people. While they are part of our history they have a unique impact on who we are today. The old saying is true that the impact is dependent on how we respond, but regardless, ignorance of these injuries will hinder our spiritual growth.
Current patterns: Not only do we need to understand where we have come from, but also where we are in the present. What kind of condition are we in spiritually? What are our habits related to the classic spiritual disciplines such as prayer, fasting, giving, meditation, reading of Scripture, worship etc.
Personal motivators: Each person is motivated somewhat differently. I am a social person, so running with other people is an important motivator in my life. This has impacted my training approach. What motivates you? Is it related to people or more goal/milestone related? What kind of personality type are you? Are you task oriented or people oriented? A good spiritual training program will take these things into account.
For many people it come naturally to reflect on ‘current patterns’ when they want to grow spiritually. People will look at specific areas where they are weak and try to address those areas. What often is missing is taking into account these other areas, such as setting out specific goals or understanding what motivates us effectively.
I encourage you to take time to reflect on each of these areas. Take some time to write down some notes about them; share them with someone close to you who knows you well and can give honest feedback on your reflections.