Seven Suggestions toward Spiritual Growth (by Bob Janis-Dillon)
Here are seven tips on how to nurture spiritual growth on the individual level.
- 1. Attend Services whenever you can. Services are the heart of our communal religious life as a congregation. The more you attend, the more you get out of them. It’s not just about being entertained by a magnificent choir, or an inspirational speaker with great hair (though we have both). Attending services is a religious practice – getting in the habit of doing it, as an individual or as a family, will affect your life in subtle and profound ways. Just as importantly, attending services is collective religious practice – so it’s not just a question of “what will I get out of it?” as “does someone else benefit from my being there?” And I will say, even though humble congregants don’t always believe me, the answer to the second question is always “yes.” This is what it means to be in worship, shaping the worth of the world, together. It is a rehearsal for the kingdom of heaven, a practice of beloved community.
- 2. Attend to your spirit every day. Every day, try and find the time to center yourself and remember that you are alive. How you do this is up to you.Meditation works for many, as does prayer. You could find this centering in exercise, in being outdoors, in being with others. But allow yourself, every day, to acknowledge your fundamental existence. Don’t skimp on this practice.
- 3. Be in accountable relationship to others who support, trust, and respect you. While every human being is in some sense responsible for her own life, we are not isolated beings, and were never meant to be. Having people in our lives who can remind us of our best selves is essential for spiritual growth. Here at the congregation, Covenant Groups are one way to do this.
- 4. Ask for help. “Going it alone” when resources are available isn’t courage, it’s an inability to be vulnerable. There are people who want to help you in your time of greatest need. Find the ones you can trust – they do exist!
- 5. Make life meaningful. If you want to know the “meaning of life” intellectually, get a dictionary. Really, the meaningfulness of life comes in how we practice it. No matter who you are, it’s 99% certain that you will feel life as more meaningful if you offer your time to others; if you acknowledge the specialness of other people and yourself; if you hold lightly onto stuff and tightly onto giving; and if you seek to live authentically. In every hour of your life, if you look for it, there is an opportunity to do something a little bit wonderful. If you don’t believe me, try looking for these opportunities for a few days.
- 6. Take volunteerism as an opportunity for spiritual growth. There’s always a lot to be done around the church. But if lay leaders see it all as chores to be done, sooner or later they’ll burn out, no matter how noble the chores are. Leadership is an opportunity for spiritual growth – to learn about ourselves through serving others. As much as possible, try to “follow your bliss” in your areas of service to the Fellowship, and you’ll get more out of it.
- 7. Have fun with it. This is a very un-American thing to say, but I don’t believe we were put on this earth to be productive. The intention and spirit with which we perform the acts of our lives can be as important as the acts themselves. Humor and humility are related words: if you ever feel yourself burdened by being the center of the universe, take two steps to the left. Better yet, start dancing.