When I get time and space, I like to reflect and think. I have been thinking on 2015, and without a doubt it’s been the most stretching and busy season of our lives: moving from our family home, starting a church, balancing church with family life, and part time jobs.

Now that I am thinking, I can see the spiritual growth that I have undergone this year. I used to think spiritual growth was about encountering God, and becoming more, well, ‘spiritual’. Maybe I thought I’d see angels and have fiery God encounters and I would be able to prophesy over people in the street… I no longer think this way. I can see now, that spiritual growth, is more about becoming more like Jesus, which is oxy-moronic anyway, as ‘growth’ means ‘decrease’ in the kingdom of God. More of Him, less of me. Less of my money, less of my will, less of my TIME, less of my choices, less of my options, less offense, less freedom even…. Much less. Yet, in the less, I have become more. I’ve been stretched beyond my wildest dreams, I’ve been stretched to lead, I’ve been stretched to love, I’ve been stretched to be humble, stretched to be fully reliant on Him. Just when I thought I couldn’t handle one more thing… there it is again.

It’s not good to save people from hard things. Our natural human instinct is to save people from pain, or hard situations. If someone had saved me from this year, I would not have grown. I would have missed the opportunity to become more like Jesus – to love more, have more character, develop more spiritual fruit, and depend on Him more than ever. Empathise with people, love them well and cheer them on, but don’t rescue them from hard things! And, don’t empower them to escape – it’s the only thing that grows us. Staying in it, facing it head on and owning it. People need to feel the full weight and gravity of their circumstance so they can empower change in their own lives!

It could probably be called the ‘law of selflessness’. The more intrinsically we allow God to push us to the end of ourselves, the more He is able to move in us, through us and to others. Sometimes we settle in the land of selfish (I’ve definitely been there before!). We like to have our cake, and eat it too (I love cake). We sit just where we feel like we are Christian-enough, but don’t ever let God challenge us to give up more self, for the more of God. How will we ever grow and do great things sitting on the fence of ‘just enough’? Great people do great things. Great in the sense of selfless things. They make their lives count for something bigger than just themselves. It takes bravery, heartache at times, loss of personal time, steadfastness, confronting fears and rejection (and so much more!), but only those people get to taste the glory of growth and greatness.

Here’s some ideas; attend prayer meetings, start a small group, get baptized, read the bible in a year (you version), raise the next generation by becoming a kid’s or youth worker, develop your relationship with God and start more dialogue with Him, serve more/give more: time, money or resource, mentor someone, be mentored by someone, tell more people about Jesus, pray for people more, give up your addictions and crutches (ie, take a year without alcohol), do some bible study or a ministry course, attend alpha, etc, etc. The opportunities for growth and greatness are knocking on your front door.

Now to change tack slightly…

Every year for at least 10 years, I have sat with the Holy Spirit through December and January and allowed Him to wash over me and highlight ONE thing to me each year that we should work on, pray for or dream on. Some of the things I remember we (the Holy Spirit and me!) have spent a year on are; learning to love people better (that was a big year J), learning to become more like Mary and less like Martha, overcoming fear, last year was ‘promises, people and places’. This year was BRAVERY and courage.

When we meditate with Him, He takes us through a well thought out road of encounter that brings about change (and thus, don’t rescue people from hard things – it could be the result of a prayer prayed). If New Year’s resolutions feel hard and powerless, try just one thing (even one word), and team up with the Holy Spirit; He knows what you need. Then reflect throughout the year and watch your life grow.