Six Spiritual Practices that Empower Us to Keep The Faith And Finish Well
As a follower of Jesus, how can I finish well? How can I intentionally seek to partner with the Holy Spirit to run the race that God has set before me and cross the finish line running rather than limping or crawling?
As we conclude this four-part series, I want to highlight six spiritual practices that can enhance our ability to finish well. These practices are not meant to be a formula for success, but rather, provide an opportunity for the Holy Spirit to equip and empower us in our journey.
1. Develop and maintain spiritual practices.
Spiritual practices (or disciplines) are intentional habits of devotion and experiential behaviors that allow us to create a space in our lives to encounter and respond to God.
Finishing well is not about meeting requirements, being busy, or attaining an enormous list of accomplishments.
Instead, finishing well is allowing God to create and grow within us the values of His Kingdom and to become more and more like Jesus.
Spiritual practices, such as prayer, studying the Scriptures, solitude and silence, rest, community, and serving, allow us to engage in the same life and practices of Jesus.
Additional resource: “Spirit of the Disciplines” by Dallas Willard
2. Develop a personal growth plan.
One of the most critical questions you need to ask yourself and answer is, “What am I doing to develop myself?”
Here are three thoughts on personal growth:
- Growth does not happen automatically.
In the Matrix, Neo and Trinity are preparing to rescue their leader Morpheus from Mr. Smith when they come across a helicopter on the roof of a building. Neo asks Trinity, “Can you fly that thing?” Trinity says, “Not yet.” She then pulls out her phone and calls their comrade, Tank, and informs him that she needs a pilot program for a B2 helicopter. Tank then uploads that particular knowledge into her brain within a few seconds.
Unfortunately, personal growth does not work that way. Learning and growth is a lifetime, intentional pursuit.
- There are no shortcuts to learning and development.
Our culture actively pursues the latest short-cuts hacks to discover the “one thing” that will quickly change our lives.
Jacko Willink, a former Navy Seal, explains, “A lot of people are out there in life trying to improve themselves by looking for the ‘one thing’ that will make all their dreams come true. It isn’t one thing though. It isn’t even 3 simple steps. It isn’t a quick path, and there are no shortcuts. Getting better, improving yourself, developing yourself is not a hack or a trick or a secret or just one change you need to make. Developing yourself is a campaign – a weekly campaign, a daily campaign, an hour-by-hour campaign . . . It is a campaign of discipline, hard work, and dedication. . . Stop looking for a short cut and go find your discipline!”
- To grow personally, we need an intentional plan.
We prefer microwaveable growth – to get zapped, and we are finished. Leaders do not develop in a day but develop themselves daily through a deliberate process.
What is your plan for personal growth? If you don’t have a specific, actionable plan that involves reading, training, coaching, etc. then begin today creating one.
Additional resource: “Intentional Living” by John Maxwell
3. Pursue self-care.
As leaders, we become so addicted to busyness and performance that we pay little attention to the care for our bodies. As a result, we tend to neglect our diet, exercise, and sleep.
As disciples of Jesus, we have a calling and mission in life. However, we must not fail to be good stewards over our bodies. Implementing small steps toward self-care such as moving more, eating better and less, and getting sufficient rest will move us toward a healthier lifestyle.
Additional resource: “Every Body Matters” by Gary Thomas
4. Pursue soul-care.
Jesus said, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” (Matthew 16:26).
The Bible is full of stories about men and women who wrestled with their emotions – fear, anxiety, depression, loss, hurt, betrayal, confusion, despair, etc. Some of their battles were for brief periods of time, while others lasted for decades.
To finish well, we must become self-aware and emotionally healthy by learning to recognize, understand, and manage our emotions.
If a leader lacks self-awareness, even if they receive the highest quality of training and possess the most creative, intelligent mind, they still will not develop into an effective leader who finishes well.
Additional resource: “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality” by Peter Scazzero
5. Walk with a spiritual coach or director.
God did not intend for us to walk alone in this world. When we isolate ourselves, we become easy targets for the enemy. To enhance your ability to finish well, I strongly encourage you to seek out a trusted spiritual coach or director.
A spiritual coach helps an individual achieve their goals, dreams, or purpose, while a spiritual director helps guide an individual to be attentive to what God is doing and saying to them in their season of life.
Additional resource: “Connecting: The Mentoring Relationships You Need to Succeed in Life” by Robert Clinton.
6. Experience seasons of renewal.
At times we need to experience the love of God being poured into our hearts, to feel the embrace of our Heavenly Father, and to get “blasted” by the Holy Spirit. Although we don’t base our relationship with God upon one experience to the next, we need to personally encounter God’s affection for us throughout our lives.
Not only do we need to maintain regularly spiritual practices, but we also need special moments of intimacy with God whereby we experience the Holy Spirit tangibly as He pours the love of the Father into our hearts (Romans 5:5). John Wesley, D. L. Moody, Jeanne Guyon, and other Christians all had deeper experiences with God in dramatic, life-changing ways periodically throughout their lives.
Additional resource: “Deeper Experiences of Famous Christians” by James Gilchrist Lawson
God desires you to finish well. Unfortunately, many well-intended followers of Jesus become driven to get things done for God that they neglect themselves and their spiritual journey with Jesus. As a result, they fail to finish well.
Making it personal
If you were to implement one of these six practices over the next six months which one would you choose? What is your first step?