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Do you like to set goals and make plans? Or are you more of a go-with-the-flow kind of person? For either personality type (or for anyone in between), being intentional about spiritual growth can be done, and it has great benefits.

Summer may seem like an odd time of year to be setting goals. After all, a lot of people consider this a New Year’s process. But, I like to set goals in the summer because my schedule is more free. If, like me, you find yourself with a little more time on your hands over the next few months, consider thinking through some spiritual growth goals.

Whether you do or do not like to plan, you probably know that growth happens best when it’s fostered. This concept reminds me of a plant I had once. I don’t have a green thumb, but I wanted some color in the corner of my yard. So, I bought a gorgeous red-blossomed tropical shrub, came home and stuck it in the ground. Sadly, I had no idea that it was a container plant. The soil wasn’t right. The light wasn’t right. And that winter I learned that the temperature wasn’t right either. That beautiful plant died within six months. (You can laugh with me.)

It may sound strange to make this comparison, but humans are similar. If we want to grow, we must encourage growth to happen. When we are intentional, growth will result. Like a plant needs the right soil, a baby needs milk or an athlete requires extra protein, when we “feed our spirits,” they will grow.

Look with me at Jesus’ words in John 15:5: I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without me.” Abiding in Christ yields fruit-growth. And in the process of abiding, our relationship with our Lord grows stronger.

The question then becomes, how do we intentionally foster spiritual growth? If you’ve downloaded our new She Stands ministry model, you’ve seen the importance of growing in the disciplines we’ve discussed (She Glorifies, She Grows, She Gives, She Gathers and She Goes). In that resource, we’ve given some practical tools on how to implement these. I pray that the following planning and goal setting tips will be useful in addition to what our team has already put together for you.

The Practical Side of Spiritual Growth

While we tend to think of spiritual growth as a very, well, spiritual process (and it is), there is also a very practical side to it. So, on a practical level, how can we be intentional? It starts with identifying where we’d like to grow. To do this, we can make a simple list of some spiritual disciplines like studying our Bibles, journaling, praying, worshiping (corporate or personal), practicing solitude or service, meditating on Bible verses or memorizing them, using our gifts, participating in small groups, fasting, giving, mentoring, and so on. Then, we can evaluate ourselves (in our current state) on a scale from one to five. Let “one” be low (needs growth) and “five” be high.

Once we’ve done that evaluation, we can list where we’d like to be in a certain time frame down the road (for example, in six months or a year). Now we’re ready to make specific, actionable plans as to what we can do to reach our goals. My advice here is to keep it simple and specific. If we want to grow in Bible study, we should set a simple, specific goal like, “I will study the Bible for 10 minutes a day, five days a week” rather than “I want to study the whole Bible this year.” Another example might be “I want to develop my prayer life. I will pray for my women’s ministry every Monday and my neighbors every Friday.” Again, it’s simple and specific.

The process of setting goals for intentional spiritual growth is one that carries over effectively to the classroom, small group, or women’s events. I’ve used this same technique in the classroom for several years. As a group, we find the evaluation tool both revealing and challenging and the goal setting helpful. It also benefits me, as a leader, to focus on my own spiritual growth so that in turn, I may serve others better. It is important to lead from a “well-fed” position. As we develop maturity in Christ, we learn to rely on him and to know ourselves (and our limitations) better.

As we lead others and follow God, let’s set goals for intentional spiritual growth. We foster that spiritual growth by putting ourselves in the right environment. We achieve it by setting goals (or “mile-markers”) to reach our destination. Intentionality is the key. To God be the glory.

Ali Shaw can’t believe how blessed life is. As a Central Texas wife, momma, and new grandma, Ali leads a full, grace-filled life. She serves the SBTC as the women’s ministry volunteer for zone s1, is currently attending Dallas Theological Seminary, is the Women’s Ministry Leader for her local church, and serves as the HelloMornings Bible Study Directorand is generally in awe that God uses a regular girl like her. . Woven with practical insight, her writing encourages women to seek God daily through the reading and study of his Word.

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