How to help a mentee through spiritual stagnation
Sometimes, we hear people say, “I feel spiritually dry”. There are many possible reasons for spiritual stagnation. We could have hit a “spiritual roadblock” that causes us to stumble. There may be areas of unrepented sins in our lives. Other times, we simply neglect to invest in our spiritual health.
Believers usually stagnate in their walk with God because they focus on things on earth, rather than on things above. God is infinitely vast and we cannot ever get tired of getting to know Him. It is helpful, therefore, to start with an understanding of what spiritual growth is not.
Colossians 3:1-2 ESV If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
1. It’s not about being busy with church activities
Have we focused on being active in church-related activities, and neglected our time alone with God?
2. It’s not about receiving blessings only
Do we expect only blessings, with no hardship or tribulation? When we face challenges, we can sometimes question God’s purpose or give up too quickly because we rely on our own (limited) strength.
3. It’s not about emotional highs or lows
Do we have unrealistic expectations about our life in a broken fallen world – that we will not experience patches of disappointment, despair or discouragement?
4. It’s not about performance or “works”
Do we feel obliged to do good “works” to justify our salvation? God will take more joy in us just spending time with Him than us being busy with “good works”.
Ephesians 2:8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
Once we have clarified any misunderstandings about what spiritual growth entails, we can encourage a mentee to look towards his or her heavenly rewards.
Invest time and effort in spiritual growth
Many people will invest substantial amounts of time and money in building their own academic or business credentials, or pay for physical trainers or beauty therapists, yet neglect to do the same when it comes to their spiritual well being – the one thing we have that has eternal value!
So encourage a mentee to invest in his or her own eternal inheritance. Remind them to develop their relationship with God as their foremost priority by studying the Word, praying and dedicating time to be alone with God, without becoming distracted by other things of life. Provide some practical tips on how to do so. For example:
- Set an appointment in your diary for time with God every day. Start with 10 minutes and increase as you go along.
- Read the Bible while commuting from place to place. If that’s too hard, listen to an audio Bible.
- Find one thing to be thankful for each day and pray about that before you sleep.
- Find a prayer partner whom you meet with every one or two weeks so you can help keep each other accountable.
- Make it a point to fast regularly and spend time with the Holy Spirit.
- Remember what it was like to be childlike and remember to go to God in prayer with that childlike faith.
Address spiritual strongholds that blind us to God’s goodness
We live in a world that is so full of myths and falsehoods that the path to God’s truth seems narrow by comparison. It may take a lifetime to unpack all the deceptions we have believed about ourselves and to repent of them so we can be set free in the name of Jesus Christ.
Matthew 7:13-14 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
Our hearts must be ready to confess and repent before God often, so that Satan can no longer have a foothold to destroy our lives and spiritual inheritance through his lies and deceptions. Here are some spiritual strongholds to take down:
- Parent wounds
- Generational sins and curses
- Ungodly patterns
- Occult sin
- Sexual sin
- Ungodly spiritual ties
- Ungodly covenants and vows
Let us give up every pain, trauma, shame, thought, attitude and plan to God so that He can give us a new life. He defines our true identity and purpose, not our past, not what people say, and even not what we think. We will find that removing spiritual strongholds that blind us to God’s goodness will go a long way in freeing us from spiritual stagnation.
Develop an eternal view of our lives
It is sometimes helpful to use creative exercises to help mentees see the ‘bigger picture’ of where their lives could be heading. Inspire them to seek a higher goal than where they are today, but showing them the eternal consequences of our actions today.
Here are three such examples.
1. Personal testimony
Ask: Have you written your personal testimony yet? Please describe how you came to accept Jesus Christ as your Saviour and what happened. Now, let’s do an exercise where we write our future testimony. Describe what you would want to tell God about the rest of your life, starting with today onwards.
2. Final destination
Ask: Do you know what the Bible says heaven is like? (See Revelation 21) Now close your eyes and picture yourself in heaven. Who do you see with you? Who is missing? Where are your bosses, colleagues, school mates? Are you happy with what you see? Can you do anything about this?
3. Spiritual warfare
Ask: How is Satan described in the Bible? What are the vulnerable areas in your life that are open to attack, according to what the Bible says about Satan? Please list them out. How can we defend ourselves better?
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