The steps of my spiritual walk move forward and back, side to side—like a dance. At times I’m spinning out too fast and God draws me back in. Sometimes I dip down too far back and God lifts me up to balance. It’s the most beautiful when I let God lead and I move to the rhythm of the music He plays in my soul rather than my own unpredictable playlist or the confusing clamor of the world.
The choreography of Christian growth I’ve followed in my life often has a pattern of me trying to leap forward on my own, then when I fall enough times I surrender and draw closer to God, followed by Him responding with drawing closer to me. When I reach the edge of myself and realize I can’t change or control everything within me or around me, I surrender to His leading.
It’s then I realize I was not listening to His voice and following the steps He was trying to lead. When I learn from the experience, I find a new way to dance with Him, leading to a more joyful song in my heart. With God’s will at center stage, I’ll always want an encore.
When my children were younger, I was busy dancing with them—stepping around toys on the floor, taking a bow to wipe up spills, dashing across the room to lift them up, darting from home to school or activities, singing their praises or sounding alarms, and giving encore performances day after day. I did dance with God, but I wasn’t as intentional to extend my hand out to Him all the time because I was so overwhelmed.
Now that I have more time and am able to step more intentionally, I’m leaning closer into God’s embrace and bowing more at His feet. How blessed are we to be able to step closer to God’s purposes for us as He leads us in His timing and ways in each season of life.
Christian Growth as a Woman in Any Season of Life
Sometimes we may not find ourselves able to focus adequate time on our own personal spiritual growth in the depth and breadth that’s most beneficial. If we are working for several hours of the day, trying to fit our needs for other areas of our life or people in our life around a work schedule, we may always feel like we aren’t doing enough. We can ask God what He desires most for us to focus on in our own spiritual growth as we try to balance our roles.
If we are women in a season of raising children, the activity in our spiritual life may have much focus on God’s promises, protection and provision for our children and family, as well as our own perseverance. We read God’s word and pray for and pour into the hearts and minds of our children so they will grow in love and becoming more like Jesus. We try to grow spiritually and personally as much as we can, but it may be mostly focused on what is apparent to us during our day to day activities or what we actually can hear God whispering to us through the noise of our days. In fact, we often might seek God for strength just to make it through the busy days and long nights.
And if we have children that have grown up and we are empty nesters, with more time to reflect on our life, we may also see more areas that need to change that we can focus on with God’s leading.
We may find that some of our thoughts and behaviors are causing challenges in our relationships. Maybe we need to be filled with more peace, joy or patience. Perhaps we must heal our heart and forgive someone for hurting us. Or we may know we need to become a better steward of our physical body or our finances.
We might realize that we have not guarded our heart and have developed some habits not pleasing to God. Even our self image can be distorted if we have not embraced our true identity and value in Christ. And we may not believe we’ll ever be prepared to effectively carry out any special purpose God may have for us.
You may require Christian growth in several areas of your character and lifestyle so you can fully become and do what God has purposed for you. Some areas you may already be aware of and some will be revealed in time as you walk with God.
What matters is that you embrace the opportunity to deepen your relationship with God during this season of working, raising your children or empty nest. In empty nest, though there can be a sense of loss, there is also a blessing in the new space created. The time you used to spend growing your children can be spent growing in Christ and walking in renewed and new purpose in all areas of your life. You and your life will be transformed as you step more fully into God’s principles and promises.
Whether you are a woman working at home or outside of the home, a stay-at-home mom, or an empty nester, God will walk with you to grow into who He wants you to be and what He wants you to do. You can be wrapped in the depth and breadth of God’s love and grace. You can grow in your love for Him, His Son and who you are in His eyes. You can discover and begin to transform into who God is calling you to be now in your role as a believer, mother, wife, daughter, sister or friend. You can explore and pursue what He is calling you to do in your relationships and family, the church and your community, as well as your career. You can find and fulfill your unique purpose to impact the world around you.
How Christian Growth Prepares You for Your God-Given Purpose
One element of your God-given purpose is the general purpose God has for all believers to love Him and share His love with others. Another aspect, which is also God’s desire for all believers though it will look different for each person, is to take steps to fulfill His will in all areas of your daily life. And lastly, God has a specific purpose for you to fulfill that relates to your unique design and passions, also called your Christian calling or life’s work.
To be prepared to understand and carry out any of God’s purposes for your life, Christian growth is necessary for the following reasons:
- The more you nurture intimacy with God, the more clarity of vision and purpose will be revealed to help you to fulfill His will.
- The more you see yourself as God does, the more you will embrace who you are and grow in confidence for your purpose.
- The more you fill your spirit, heart and mind with God’s word, the more godly wisdom and discernment will guide you.
- The more deeply you love and know God, the more easily you will hear, recognize and follow His voice versus the world.
- The more you grow in your knowledge and love for Jesus, the more you will desire and begin to reflect His image.
- The more you learn to sense the Holy Spirit, the more you will be led to transform yourself and all areas of your life.
- The more time you invest in Christian growth, the more you fulfill God’s purposes to bear fruit both inside and out.
As you experience spiritual transformation on the inside, the more you will embody the godly character, Christian values and biblical priorities to walk more fully in His purposes for you–whatever your season of life. Seeking God’s wisdom, practicing spiritual disciplines and finding Christian accountability as needed will equip you on your journey of spiritual growth.
But sometimes we may not draw from God’s presence and power to enable our Christian growth—or even realize what’s available to us through our spiritual walk. You don’t have to strive in only your human ability. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are with you and there for you every step of your journey.
Developing the heart and mind of Christ will help you to be transformed into His image on the inside. And receiving wisdom and strength from God and His Holy Spirit will empower you to take action on the outside to make personal and life changes to fulfill His purposes.
10 Principles of Christian Growth
We have access to everything we need to grow as we pursue godliness and purpose in our daily lives. God loves you unconditionally. As your creator, He knows you intimately. He sees you in every circumstance. He knows your needs and will meet them.
O LORD, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, LORD. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand! I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! (Psalm 139:1-7 NLT)
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. (Ephesians 1:3 NIV)
Based on the following 10 principles of Christian growth, you can believe without doubt that it IS possible for you to transform into ALL God intends for you to become in Christian character and to step out in confidence in ALL God purposed for you to fulfill in your Christian calling.
Now the Lord is Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom”…and we all “are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:17,18b NIV)
1. Your purpose is to fulfill God’s purposes for your life.
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10 NIV)
God created you with both general and special purposes in mind when He hand-picked each trait in your design. As you make decisions each day, consider how where you say “yes” or “no” will help you grow in character and wisdom to fulfill those purposes.
Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:1-2 NIV)
God calls you to be transformed, but you should not feel that He is disappointed in you or will abandon you if you struggle to progress in some areas. Your heavenly Father loves you unconditionally and He is faithful to give you His power and grace to help with personal growth, spiritual transformation and lifestyle changes. Pray to see yourself and your life with the vision that He has for you rather than how you may view who you are and your situation.
2. You are a new person set free from the habits of your old self.
For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. (Romans 6:6 NIV)
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. (Ephesians 5:8-9 NIV)
Though you may still feel tempted to think and act in ways that you did before, once you are in Christ, in the spiritual realm, you have been set free from the power of old habits of the flesh. You have the ability to seek the wisdom and power available to you to start on the path to real, lasting life change. As you increasingly grow in Christ, your desires will begin to align with His. He understands your struggles and will help you to learn to make all things new as your spirit is new.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:15-16 NIV)
3. God is working within and through you to fulfill His purposes.
For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. (Philippians 2:13 NIV)
Every moment of every day, God is at work within you to help you to understand and carry out His will without needing to rely only on your own strength. Even if you are in a period of waiting, God is moving behind the scenes and you can trust in His faithfulness to help you in all areas of spiritual growth.
No matter how long you’ve been a believer, you will always have areas for Christian growth. And if you’re unsure of where to focus, God will show you.
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139:23-24 NIV)
You can seek God’s direction and divine power to help you change your heart, strengthen your spirit, renew your mind and guide your actions to get on the path of His purposes. It is important to understand “the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms”. (Ephesians 1:19-20 NLT)
4. You will produce lasting fruit in all areas of your life if you abide in Christ.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5 NIV)
To remain in Jesus is to abide in Him. Dictionary.com defines abide as “to remain; continue; stay; dwell; to continue in a particular relationship; last”. Jesus spoke that to bear fruit in your life, you must remain in Him. Your spirit, heart and mind must be steadfast to continue in your relationship with Him, to dwell in His presence as if it is your heart’s home—regardless of feelings or circumstances.
Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” (John 14:23 NIV)
Abide in Christ. Sit at His feet in your spirit—even if you are actually standing in your body. Be still in His presence on the inside—even if you are actually moving on the outside. Look to Him—even if something else is in your sight. Hear His voice—even if the other voices are the loudest. Feel His peace within—even if chaos surrounds you.
5. You receive wisdom and power to transform from the Holy Spirit.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you…” (Acts 1:8a NIV)
“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (John 14:26 NIV)
The presence of the Holy Spirit supports your journey of Christian growth in multiple ways. Growing in your ability to discern the prompting of the Spirit in your life is important since “no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God”. (1 Corinthians 2:11b NIV) Jesus said that the Holy Spirit “will guide you into all the truth…the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.” (John 16:13,15 NIV).
Even when you pray and may be unsure exactly what to ask, “the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God” (Romans 8:27b NIV). So through the Spirit’s work within you, you are able to seek wisdom, direction and power for growth in Christian character, finding and fulfilling your purpose and carrying out His will in all areas of your life as a woman with a career, woman in a role of stay-at-home mom or an empty nester.
Your spiritual gifting will give you clues to your calling and play a major role in you carrying out that specific God-given purpose. “It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.” (1 Corinthians 12:11 NLT)
So the work of the Holy Spirit affects your purpose by equipping you with spiritual gifts, as well as by empowering you for spiritual and personal growth to prepare to walk in your purpose.
6. God’s word leads you on the path to Christian transformation.
Your word is a lamp for my feet, and a light on my path. (Psalm 119:105 NIV)
Scripture reveals to us knowledge of God’s person, principles, promises and purposes. Reading God’s word is necessary for growth in the Christian life. The Bible states, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NIV)
Being familiar with God’s character and ways revealed in His word enables you to align your thoughts and ways with His. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV)
God’s word is “alive and active…it penetrates even to dividing the soul and spirit…it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart”. (Hebrews 4:12 NIV) When you read, study and meditate on scripture, you aren’t simply receiving knowledge, but you’re encountering the presence of the living God.
“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly.” (Colossians 3:16a NIV) God says His word “always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to”. (Isaiah 55:11 NLT) You can believe His promise that if you nurture the word of God within you, you will begin to be transformed by Christ—who was the Word that became flesh. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1 NIV)
7. Your thoughts either help or hinder your personal Christian growth.
Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. (Romans 8:5-6 NIV)
Though seeds are planted, just knowing God’s truth does not cause spiritual transformation. Your thoughts determine your feelings and behaviors. So in order to change, you must do so from the inside out—starting with your thought life.
In Romans 12:2 (NIV) scripture states to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind” in order to learn what is God’s “good, pleasing and perfect will”. And Ephesians 4:23 (NIV) teaches that to put on your new self, you must “be made new in the attitude of your minds”.
So when you seek to grow, it’s necessary to be intentional to identify the thoughts and attitudes that are the source of feelings and behaviors not aligned with God’s will and “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5b NIV). With the Spirit’s guidance, you can set your mind on what the Spirit desires by seeking to replace the thoughts that hinder your transformation with Biblical truth that reflects the heart of God and the mind of Christ.
8. Being intentional to pursue Christian growth is a Biblical priority.
If you love me, keep my commands.” (John 14:15 NIV)
It’s easy to become comfortable where you are spiritually or to become so overwhelmed with the busyness of life that your goals for Christian growth may get the least amount of focus and time compared to other seemingly more pressing matters. However, your spiritual life affects every other aspect of your life.
The values and principles imprinted upon your soul drive every decision you make. So growing to make sure they are the same as God’s is necessary. As real lasting transformation occurs, the changes you make on the inside will impact your actions on the outside.
So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone…Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works. (James 2:24,26 NLT)
Beyond reading or listening to God’s word for knowledge, you’re called to become a doer of the word. James 1:22 (NIV) instructs us, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” Therefore, personal Christian growth is intended to be priority in your life.
9. God’s love and presence will remain with you, no matter the obstacles.
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Romans 8:37 NIV
With all of the power available to you through the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, it may seem impossible not to grow. But as imperfect people in an imperfect world, we still always need to be on guard for what hinders Christian growth. Some possible obstacles to slow, regress or stop your transformation could be…
- low priority of working on spiritual growth
- inadequate time with God to learn His will
- striving only in your own strength to change
- failing to assess where you need change
- pride of thinking you don’t need to change
- being too distracted or busy to make an effort
- ungodly desires that affect your decisions
- participating in activities causing temptation
- intentionally giving in to areas of temptation
- doubting you can change even with God’s help
- feeling comfortable and fearing change
- ungodly influences from people or the world
You must be aware if these or other internal and external hindrances are already an issue or may likely become a problem. What hinders growth for you may be different than for others because of who you are and your life experience or situation. Asking God to help you to recognize and find strategies or support to manage the obstacles to your growth is critical to your progress in fulfilling His purposes for your life.
If you keep looking to God instead of at your weaknesses or circumstances, no matter what tries to come between you and His plans for your life, you will be able to overcome. Your path won’t be perfect. You will still have struggles. But walking in His purposes for you give you strength and fulfillment. And the trials that you do experience shouldn’t cause any guilt because God knows they exist and knows your heart, and working through challenges cause you to grow in ways you may not even realize.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28 NIV)
10. Pursuing Christian growth brings spiritual blessings into your life.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” (Matthew 5:6 NIV)
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” (Matthew 5:8 NIV)
When you live a lifestyle marked with the passion to be holy like Christ and live wholly for God, you’ll be filled with a satisfaction in your soul that only God’s presence can provide. When your heart is fully devoted to loving God and worshipping Him with your whole life, you’ll see more and more of God and His work in your life.
Hebrews 12:14 (NIV) says that “without holiness no one will see the Lord”. This doesn’t mean that you must be perfect in walking your Christian path. But your heart should have a pure desire for ongoing Christian growth as you “offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship”. (Romans 12:1 NIV)
Encouraging Bible Verses Offering a Blessing for Christian Growth
“They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:16-17 NIV)
For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. (Colossians 1:9-12 NIV)
May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 NIV)
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. (Ephesians 1:18-19a NIV)
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (2 Corinthians 13:14 NIV)
If you need a spiritual companion for encouragement, insights, strategies or accountability on your journey of Christian growth and fulfilling God’s purposes in your life, I welcome you to contact me to learn more about Christian coaching.