How to grow spiritually in the new year

Q: Many of my friends are making resolutions for the new year, most of which involve some physical change such as losing weight or breaking a bad habit. While those are good, I would like to resolve to grow in my spiritual life this coming year. Do you have any suggestions as to how I can accomplish that?

A: From God’s perspective, we’re all a work in progress. He wants to see us make as much progress as we can and will help us as much as we let Him. “‘I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”1 Here are five ways to grow and mature spiritually:

  1. Involve God in the decision-making process. From the time we are small children, we learn through parental instruction. Just so, we grow spiritually as we learn to follow God’s instruction, as we turn to Him in prayer and apply the spiritual principles in His Word to our decisions.
  1. Exercise faith. Just as we learn through experience, through suffering the consequences of wrong decisions and reaping the rewards of right decisions, we grow spiritually as our faith is put to the test and we see that it is the solution to life’s problems.
  1. Give of yourself. As we focus on meeting the needs of others and making them happy, we become conduits of God’s love. And as we pour out, God pours into us. “Give freely and become more wealthy; be stingy and lose everything.The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.”2
  1. Recognize and work on weak areas. We all have room for improvement. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”3 It’s humbling to acknowledge our weaknesses, even if only to ourselves and God. But if we can do so and show ourselves open to advice, reminders, and prayers, we find ourselves on the fast track to spiritual progress.
  1. Take on new challenges. When we close ourselves off to new information and ideas, we stop growing intellectually. When we close ourselves off from other people, we stop growing emotionally. But when we close ourselves off to new challenges, we stop growing intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. We only make progress by moving forward and rising to new challenges.
  1. Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
  2. Proverbs 11:24–25 NLT
  3. Romans 3:23