I’m fascinated by the topic of spiritual growth. I’ve even written a couple of books on the subject. How do people mature in their faith? What habits and disciplines matter most? How can we help others grow? Why do some people grow and others seem to stall? The answers to these questions matter to every believer and every church leader.
But it’s not enough to know how to grow in general. In his book A Short Guide to Spiritual Disciplines: How to Become a Healthy Christian, Mason King argues that we need to pay attention to three dimensions of our lives:
- Our attention — Who gets our attention? How do we manage the onslaught of digital distractions that overwhelm us? What we pay attention to determines the direction of our lives.
- Our emotions — How do we process our emotions? How do we offer all of us — including our emotions — to God and learn to trust him with every emotion, even the difficult ones?
- Our limits — How do we stop trying to do too much and live within our limits?
Most spiritual growth books don’t discuss these three dimensions of our lives. It could be one of the reasons that many of us aren’t growing as much as we’d like. You may practice all the spiritual disciplines, but without practicing God’s presence in these three categories, your spiritual growth will be limited.
My Interview with Mason King
Mason King is a pastor at The Village Church in Flower Mound, Texas. He also serves as the Executive Director of The Village Church Institute, Groups, and Leadership Development.
He is currently completing a Ph.D. in Church History from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and holds a D.Min. in Executive Leadership from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He’s also a husband and a father.
King and I share similar interests. It seems that we may also face similar challenges. The section on limits, for instance, hit me hard. I highlighted this quote in the book, taken from a commentary on the Psalms that King read: “Putting wise limits upon our undertakings and our spheres is one of the most important and anxious things that we have to do. And one of the chief modern sins is attempting too much, and not being willing to keep ourselves strictly within the limits of what we can do really well.” I need to not only highlight that but post it on my wall where I can see it every day.
I appreciated King’s take on a familiar subject. King draws attention to some important areas around spiritual growth that we often tend to miss. If you’d like a refresher on how to grow, I think you’ll enjoy this book.
I was privileged to interview King for the Gospel for Life podcast. You can listen to the interview below, or download the transcript.
- Joy is found by submitting your life to God and living within limits while giving attention and emotions to God. Prioritizing sleep, rest, diet, relationships, and managing pressure and anxiety from others is key to avoiding burnout and being a people pleaser.
- The metaphor of a tree runs through the book, emphasizing the importance of the lifelong pursuit of growth.
- Digital technology acts as a pacifier, providing distraction and instant gratification at the click of a button. The ease of distraction can prevent individuals from feeling conviction and needing something outside of themselves for help. With constant access to stimulation, stillness becomes difficult to achieve which prevents individuals from hearing the still, small voice of God.
- King identifies areas that are often neglected such as attention, emotions, and limits in his book, going beyond the basic spiritual practices. It's important to remember that emotions are real but not always reliable, and one should get curious about them and know how to move through them.
“God is not waiting for a future version of you to love.”
“It's hard to know ourselves when we won't slow down. It’s hard to create space to know God and to be known by God when we feel shame over emotions or we don't have emotional maturity and vocabulary. And if we're trying to do too much, we're trying to do more than a creature can. You're not recognizing God's good design for giving you rest.”
- A Short Guide to Spiritual Disciplines: How to Become a Healthy Christian by Mason King
- Breaking Bread with the Dead: A Reader's Guide to a More Tranquil Mind by Alan Jacobs
- How to Think by Alan Jacobs