Recently I have been listening to some folks who are getting close to finishing up The Journey and are considering moving along our pathway into the next process A Way of Life. And as I listen to them sort this decision out, I keep on thinking about psychologist Henry Cloud’s words in his book Integrity: The Courage to Meet the Demands of Reality. I thought I would share the extended quote. Cloud writes,
For someone to grow, there has to be a connection to outside sources of energy. Who is pushing you to grow? Who is supporting you to grow? Who is pushing you past the level at which you already are? Where is the encouragement coming from?
The number one reason for lack of growth in people’s lives, I have observed, is the absence of joining forces outside themselves who push them to grow. Instead, they keep telling themselves that they will somehow, by willpower or commitment, make themselves grow. That never works.
But if they enlist a coach, join a group, get a counselor, a community of growth, or some outside push, then the growth begins to happen. It is the coach pushing us to greater heights, the sales manager motivating you to something you can’t do, the Weight Watchers group motivating you to try a new course. On the other hand, if it is all self-motivation, then decay, decline, and dying take over, especially when we hit the stuck places where more is required that we don’t have. But, if there is fuel from the outside, we are pushed further that we are able.
We simply will not continue to mature in Christ apart from the encouragement and challenge of wise friends and companions who know us. Good intentions without good company will not cut it on the journey.
So one of the things I have found myself asking The Journey alumni is–who is going to push you to grow over the next 12 months? If you have found honest, challenging, and prayerful conversation about what God is doing in your life and in others’ lives, continue walking together in the direction that A Way of Life provides – sustaining a life long apprenticeship with Jesus.
We all need a space and a place in our lives to be supported and challenged to grow. We simply do not have enough character or understanding to truly face the demands of reality that are ahead of us. May we all be open to grow and learn and allow God to become much more a part of our lives (Ephesians 3:14-21).