3. Standing for Continued Growth
Points to Ponder:
This week’s topic is “Standing for Continued Growth.” We all want to make progress in life. In order to stay motivated to succeed, we need to know how to encourage ourselves along a path of growth. In the growth process, there are stages we can identify to gauge what we need to work on to keep moving towards our envisioned goal/outcomes in life.
One of the gifts Principle teaches is that growth is a process that takes place through identifiable and orderly stages; these can act as milestones for our growth.
The formation stage is the stage of mastering habits in our lives. These become the foundation for the skills, character, and qualities we develop. Practice makes perfect.
For example, you may have had the goal to master the violin, another language, or even prayer. You begin with the very simple foundational basics (learning notes, letters, grammar structures, simple prayers) and you practice them consistently. It’s often the hardest to stay motivated at the beginning; it’s easy to question whether what seems like mundane repetition is yielding any progress. You might be clumsy at first, or go through a time where you doubt yourself, or feel frustrated because you aren’t where you want to be. We have to be patient with our limitations and trust that with persistence and intentional effort you begin to find confidence and see progress.
The growth stage, is the stage of development and of faith. As you make effort you begin to see small breakthroughs and experience the joy of seeing the results of your efforts. These breakthroughs build your faith to maintain your consistency and spur you forward. It’s evidence that you’re on the right track and you’re growing! You begin to develop a trust and faith in the principles that are at work.
For example, you might remember the first time you had a really heartistic prayer. Or when you finally mastered a song on the violin for the first time! Or could carry on a simple conversation in a new language.
Lastly, the completion stage is where you’ve come to experience on a consistent level the breakthroughs of the growth stage. You find yourself excited and motivated to continue to make progress. You also feel confident to share your mastery with other people, sharing what you’ve learned which also contributes to a sense of fulfillment. Growth is no longer a duty or obligation, but you feel your investment is purposeful. You know it takes effort and work, but the joy you experience as an outcome is worth the effort and you feel a self-propelling and compelling energy.
For example, at this stage, prayer has become a source for guidance and clarity. It may still take consistent effort to breakthrough, but there’s a confidence and conviction that you will and do. It’s the point, after months of practice, where you perform you first song for an audience and they love it!
Even though this is the naturally and originally designed process of growing, it’s also helpful to keep in mind that our individual process of growth isn’t separate from our family and ancestry. Both very much influence the blessings but also the challenges and struggles we’re asked to work through. Thus, our journey of growth also involves a process of restoring and recreating ourselves to be the people God created us to be. Growing often comes through a process of healing, or forgiving, learning to embrace and accept myself and others, and also take responsibility for our individual and family’s shortcomings.
Although we might struggle to come in terms with the hand we’re dealt, when we trust that God is guiding us to become the people He knows we can be, we can approach the journey of growth with hope and intention.
For example, I might have a difficult relationship with my father, like he had with his, whereas my best friend might not have the same struggle, and instead be confronted really difficult financial challenges as a family.
We are meant to overcome our challenges and become the people God created us to be; each and every one of us has that capacity. Whatever level we’re at, we always need to look at our own progress, see how far we’ve come, and commit to continually moving forward.
My journey of growth is unique to me. No one else can walk my path of growth for me. But when I make the effort and investment into my growth, I also experience the greatest joy and fulfillment.
Discussion questions for before/after the reading:
- What’s one habit/skill/faith practice you’ve experienced go from a formation, to growth, to completion level? What were some defining experiences at each stage?
- What’s one habit/skill/faith practice with which you’d like to make some forward progress? Where are you at right now? What would the next level look like?
“A life of faith is not aimless. A life of faith is like gathering the equipment required to reach a mountaintop, the summit of the highest peak. Hence when faced with an obstacle we should not make a detour around it. Instead, we should proceed through the obstacle. When faced with hardships, we should determine not to give up, and be ready to face even greater difficulties. With an indomitable spirit, we should strive to discover the subjective self that can digest all experiences.” – CSG 797
“Some members here have lived a life of faith knowing God’s Will for only one year, others for more than ten years or half a lifetime. The issue then is whether you have stood still, made progress or retreated. You need to clearly know where you stand and then you can go over the next hill. You may have made significant progress in the past, but if you are at a standstill today, God’s living vitality cannot be with you and you cannot maintain a loving relationship with God. You may have made tremendous positive strides in the past, moving forward with boundless values, boundless vitality and the boundless power of love, but if you are now at a standstill you are already separated from God.” – CSG 800
“If you are trained on this course, things to come will become easier for you to handle. If you take interest in what you are going through, and if you are thrilled to find new adventures, then when you are faced with ever greater difficulties, you can tackle those with more zeal and capability. But if you are unwilling to confront the problems occurring around you and are afraid of them, then you will not be able to turn the experience into training to face new problems. Only by having gone over the rocks and waterfalls can you lead yourself to the heart of the ocean.” – Challenge and Victory
“You must have the attitude that you want to face whatever comes with great expectation and interest.” – Challenge and Victory
“The harder, the more challenging the situation is, the more progress you will make. Do you realize that? You are so anxious to be successful, but if you have no zeal to fight through the way to success, you will not meet it soon.” – Challenge and Victory
“No matter what hardships you go through, I am one friend who will understand you completely. Not only in the past, but in the present I am going through the same life that you are leading. When your situation becomes difficult then remind yourself that you are not alone because I am sharing that very moment with you.” – Way of Tradition I 39
This week we invite you to take action on the second reflection question above. What’s one habit/skill/faith practice you’d like to see progress? Identify an action step that would help you to do.