A growing relationship with Christ is central to the life of a believer. It is not only church attendance, but it is connecting with God on the heart level. It is a healthy growing focus upon Christ-likeness. One of the core verses that focus upon spiritual formation is Romans 12:1-2. As followers of Christ, we need a consistent cleansing of the lies of the world with the truth of God's Word.
The essence of spiritual discipleship:
Stop. Focus. Listen. In a culture of instant gratification, we have to discipline ourselves to sit still and listen to God’s leading. Salvation is only the beginning. From salvation until the end of life, God calls to grow toward Christ likeness. It is a continual process of listening, learning and responding to God.
Discipleship centers upon grace. It is a reminder every day to wake up and realize that God gives us the mercy to live. Paul reminds the believer in Ephesians 3:19, “that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Spiritual formation is not only obeying scripture but it is to build a life of discipline. A person does not become a devoted follower of Christ overnight; it takes many years of discipline and obedience. It is not simply devotion to a set list to check off each morning, but it is a continual focus upon Jesus Christ. The impact that occurs when believers live like Christ stems from a hunger for God’s Word. The discipline of waking up each day to spend quality time with God is to build godliness. A disciple seeks to display the fruits of the spirit. The evidence of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and self-control in a believer’s life points people to Christ.
Make it personal. My personal walk with God is the most important aspect of life. Many times in my life I would neglect an intentional time with God because I was "too busy" doing ministry for God instead of "being" close God. When this would happen it would show up in my life. The need for a daily intimate time with God is what builds a person’s heart to serve. When I surrendered to the call to ministry, I learned to discipline myself to have a daily quiet time. The one issue that came up was there were days that I would do it out of routine and not always heartfelt. I need to evaluate my heart so I rely on His strength and not my own. Spiritual formation is what gives me the strength to serve in ministry every day. My prayer life has grown due to the fact that I need His leading in all aspects of my life.
Personal discipleship flows into leadership. In regards to preaching and teaching, spiritual formation is the foundation. I have found that in my weaknesses I learn to rely on God’s strength. During the preparation of a message, praying through the text helps transform my life before it is even taught. Spiritual growth occurs when I surrender my own thoughts, preconceived notions, and experiences to the authority of God’s Word. The reason this is important is that each time I teach God’s Word, it must permeate my life. It is not simply communication of God’s Word but a radical desire to obey and apply it. Spiritual growth is a revolving response from God’s Word and applied to life. I am only as strong as a leader and I am strong in my walk with God each day. Spiritual formation is the most important aspect of a leader for a lifelong commitment to ministry.
The personal life of a leader is more important than the their public life. God looks at the heart of each leader.