Spiritual Growth

Where man sees but withered leaves,
God sees sweet flowers growing.
-Albert Laighton

Spring is a time for growth in so many ways. Some welcome that process with an adventurous spirit, while others cringe about navigating (and stressing through) the challenge.

It has only been within the past 20-30 years that Carol Dweck, PhD., began to examine the concept of Fixed/Mixed/Growth Mindsets. What does that mean?! After studying the behavior of thousands of children, Dr. Dweck coined the terms fixed mindset and growth mindset to describe the underlying beliefs people have about learning and intelligence. When students (really, anyone) believe they can get smarter, they understand that effort makes them stronger. Therefore they put in extra time and effort, and that leads to higher achievement.

Having a growth mindset is not simply just having an “open mind” or having a positive outlook on things, but rather it is a sort of unattainable (at least in its purest form) challenge to resist a fixed way of being and embrace difficulties from a place of intrigue and awe.

Curious about your mindset? The truth is, your mindset may vary within different kinds of change, but if you’d like to take a basic quiz about your mindset, CLICK HERE.

In a Harvard Business Review article, Dweck writes, “It’s hard work, but individuals and organizations can gain a lot by deepening their understanding of growth-mindset concepts and the processes for putting them into practice. It gives them a richer sense of who they are, what they stand for, and how they want to move forward.”

That’s cool. What does this have to do with God and my faith?

True growth will always reveal defined transformation, which will propel one into the next season of growth.

The Bible beckons us into a process of sanctification, beginning with  accepting the Grace of Christ, and responding by a life lived beautifully free from being of this world (John 17:14-16). Transforming the way we interpret, think, process, and LOVE. (Romans 6:18, Galatians 2:20, 2 Peter 3:18). Of course, it is our choice in how we engage this call on our lives. From a fixed mindset we will do so begrudgingly; taking little joy in the process of growing to be more Christlike (Ephesians 5:1-2). From a growth mindset we will experience our desire to be like Him exploding from our hearts in a joyful effort to trust and rely on Him with greater intention and faith.

While Carol Dweck does not directly address spiritual growth in her research, it stands to reason that the theory would support various types of growth (mind/cognitive, emotional, physical, spiritual, etc.) There are many psychological indicators recognizing that those who approach life with a growth mindset find greater joy and defense against anxiety and depression (simply Google search “happy growth mindset”). Of course, as we approach concepts like changing the way we think (Romans 12:2), we are to invite the Holy Spirit into our hearts and minds, and look to God’s Word, Spirit and Son for appropriate direction.

In his book, “The Sin of Certainty,” Peter Enns writes about his transformational process of trusting God:

I felt like pieces of my life were falling into place, and what I had always known about God wasn’t fitting very into this new scheme. I was at the beginning of a process of relearning how to “be” Christian – and becoming more spiritually self-aware than I had ever been. That process hasn’t come to an end, and I see now that it never will. And I’ve come to see the wisdom in being fine with that – and trusting that God is, too.

Can you see the joy Peter holds for the process of growth? Even more so than reaching a particular outcome.

In fact, the Bible has a lot to say about the process of spiritual growth: Philippians 1:25-26, 1 Corinthians 3:6, Zephaniah 1:12 are but a few starting places…

Here are some tips about beginning the process of developing a growth mindset:

  • Acknowledge and embrace your imperfections.
  • View challenges as opportunities.
  • Replaces the word “failing” with the word “learning.”
  • Stop seeking approval.
  • Value the process over the outcome.
  • Reward actions, not traits.
  • Cultivate grit.
  • Learn from the mistakes of others.
  • Take risks in the company of others.
  • Take ownership over your attitude.

Written by Daniel Kail, Founder/Owner of Trailhead Christian Counseling

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