2. Personal Wholeness

PW Outcome 1: Humility

Growth Suggestion A:

Jesus didn’t look to glorify Himself. He didn’t seek attention. Today, Christians live in a culture of selfies, drama, and a constant need for ego-feeding. Think about the way you talk and what you talk about. Are you subconsciously seeking attention, looking for compliments or affirmation? Are your posts on social media for the purpose of attention or to feed your ego with ‘likes’ and comments? Humility doesn’t boast, doesn’t have a need for ego-feeding, and doesn’t seek attention. What is the root of your need for attention? Evaluate areas of your life where you are secretly looking for attention. If there is more than one area, choose one and begin to make changes by purposely trying not to draw attention to yourself.

Growth Suggestion B:

Lacking humility is problematic when dealing with other people. If you insist on having the last word, or often think that your opinion is superior to that of others, chances are you have trouble listening to, and considering the views, opinions, input or suggestions of others. It is not wise to always dominate the conversation or situation in your marriage, friendship, or workplace, and put forth a ‘my way or the highway’ attitude. People who live like this ostracize people closest to them, create discord in their workplaces, and cause others to resent their company. In situations of conflict or differences of opinions, be intentional to hold your tongue and allow others to voice their opinions. Realize that your thoughts don’t negate the thoughts of others. Take a humble stance by allowing someone else to ‘win’ the conversation, argument, or discussion. This can be a very difficult process, but will be valuable in moving forward in growth towards Christ-like humility.

Growth Suggestion C:

Many Christians are comfortable with humility, but only to a certain extent. Some people still tend to guard certain areas of their lives and keep them buried, because they resist the feeling of embarrassment or humiliation that would accompany being transparent. Is this you? There may be some elements of your life, perhaps buried deep inside, that you should share in your attempt to help others. For example, there may have been an element of your history that you’re almost ashamed of. Perhaps it’s a previous sin, addiction, personal choice, etc. Sharing this element of your life with those close to you or for the purpose of testimony will inevitably lead to greater humility, but may also encourage others to a deeper level of transparency as well.

Suggested Growth Resources:

Humility: True Greatness (C. J. Mahaney)
Jesus Was Not a Rebel: How to Grow in the Power of God Through Humility and Submission (Brent Rudoski) A World Unbroken: The Art of Humility (DVD Series) Humilitas: A Lost Key to Life, Love, and Leadership (John Dickson)

PW Outcome 2: Positive Self-Image

Growth Suggestion A:

Do you find yourself overly concerned about what others think about you?This may be due to poor self-image. If you’re dissatisfied with yourself, you need to revisit the idea that you are a person made in the image of God. Outside of sinfulness, which can’t be excused, you were created exactly the way you are. The next time you find yourself apprehensive about your appearance, inhibited by your inadequacy, or frozen in fear of what others think of you, remind yourself that you are God’s masterpiece and must be primarily concerned about what He thinks. You may even want to write this down and place it in on your mirror. Sometimes seeing is believing!

Growth Suggestion B:

Not only should you be able to accept who you are, you should also rejoice in who God made you to be. While you may not have the same gifts and abilities as the next person, God has made you with gifts and abilities unique to you. Rejoice in what God has created by knowing and understanding your own gifts and abilities and maximize how you use them. Being effective in God’s Kingdom by being useful will improve how you view yourself. Seek to find a new way to be used in your area of strengths. This may mean you have to stop working in other areas that are outside of your gifts. Operating in your strengths will energize you and help you view yourself in a healthy way.

Growth Suggestion C:

Sometimes more driven disciples can become too self-critical. Frustration ensues, as well as a sense of inadequacy when one is overly critical of their maturing process of either a spiritual or personal nature. Setting realistic goals should be the first course of action for the believer who is too self-critical. Furthermore, enlist a friend or mentor to help you process your sense of inadequacy and self-criticism. Perhaps viewing yourself through a different lens will help you understand areas in which you are growing and improving. This will motivate you to con-tinue to build and grow without beating yourself up after every mistake or failure.

Suggested Growth Resources:

Distorted Images of Self: Restoring Our Vision:
8 Studies for Individuals or Groups
(Dale Ryan and Juanita Ryan)
When God Whispers Your Name (Max Lucado)
The Silent Seduction of Self-Talk: Conforming Deadly Thought Patterns to the Word of God (Shelly Beach) http://www.spiritualgiftstest.com

PW Outcome 3:

Gratitude Growth Suggestion A:

Take one week and plan ahead for a “week of gratitude.” Every day of that week, plan to thank a person specifically for something they’ve done. Be sure that it’s more than the simple “thank you” and explain the reason(s) for your gratitude. For example, if you eat at a restaurant, rather than a quick “thanks” as you leave, tell your server, “Thanks for the excellent service. You’ve been so helpful and made our meal far more enjoyable.” Leave a generous tip as well! Another moment of gratitude could be to go out of your way to thank your child’s teacher for the time invested in your child’s education. Meet the garbage truck as it stops in front of your house and tell the workers, “You probably have a thankless job, but I wanted to say thanks for what you do. Your work in our community is important.” Thank a church ministry leader, store clerk, co-worker, spouse, child, or friend. Sometimes the customary ‘thanks’ can be a cop out and not entirely genuine. Challenge yourself to give a genuine, thoughtful expression of gratitude to at least one person each day for a week. You’ll be blessed as you bless others!

Growth Suggestion B:

Today’s culture is one of dissatisfaction. Most people have it so good that they tend to complain about things that don’t matter. These minor issues can change the outlook of an entire day! The next time you’re tempted to complain about something, catch yourself and counter that negative thought with a positive one. Instead of griping about your car being too cold in the morning, be grateful that you have a car to drive. Instead of getting upset when your coffee wasn’t made correctly, remind yourself that you are blessed to have money to waste (and that the coffee shop will likely replace your coffee with the correct one). Instead of whining about your spouse forgetting to take out the trash again, make the switch in your mind to thinking about how great it was that your spouse fixed the bathroom faucet yesterday. An attitude of gratitude changes your perspective and leaves no room for grouchy disciples.

Growth Suggestion C:

There are people in the history of your development who have been very influential in some way. This could have been a pastor, teacher, coach, ministry leader, friend, or relative. Chances are, you’ve never told these people how big of an impact they’ve made on your life and how they’ve helped shape the person you’ve become. Challenge yourself to write a letter, send an e-mail, or telephone these people to tell them how thankful you are for them and the impact they have had on you. Don’t take the easy route and just say a quick, ‘thanks.’ Gather your thoughts, remember details, instances, or stories, and be specific about their role in your life. They may not remember those details, but your gratitude will be a great source of encouragement to them. It will also help you grow in your ability to express gratitude and live a life of thankfulness.

Suggested Growth Resources:

http://www.unstuck.com/gratitude.html
One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are (Ann Voskamp)
1000 Gifts App and Gratitude Journal App
Living into Community: Cultivating Practices That Sustain Us (Christine D. Pohl)

PW Outcome 4: Manage Negative Emotions

Growth Suggestion A:

Sit back and analyze if your emotional issues are serious (beyond everyday sadness, anger, etc). If you feel they are overwhelming or can’t be pushed through, ask for the proper help you need. Mental illness is real; it’s not a sign of weakness! Like any other physiological problem, it can and should be addressed with professional help. Proper, professional counselling, medication, and coping techniques are all ways to make you a better disciple. By dealing with your emotional health, you are taking ownership of what is happening in your own life and will be better able to serve God’s mission on earth!

Growth Suggestion B:

After determining whether or not you need professional help, you must also consider what you can do to help yourself. Think of a negative emotion you struggle with -pray and ask God to remind and convict you when you feel this emotion. Take note of how you feel and what caused this emotion (even write it down!) – and begin to ask God to replace those negative emotions with the opposing fruit of the Spirit (self-control instead of anger, peace instead of stress). Awareness is the first step!

Growth Suggestion C:

Often times, negative emotions are connected to our physical health. Exercise, proper sleep and nutrition can all contribute to our emotional health. Begin to carve out intentional time to care for your physical body – start small and work your way up! Start a simple plan to care for your health – cutting back on junk food, going to bed at a consistent time, exercising regularly doing something you enjoy (walking, a sport, biking, etc) and find someone to do it with you – your emotional health will greatly benefit!

Suggested Growth Resources:

Splashing Over Practical Anger Management for Christians (Mark Ian Thompson)
When You’ve Been Wronged: Overcoming Barriers to Reconciliation (Erwin W. Lutzer)
Secrets to Exceptional Living: Transforming Your Life Through the Fruit of the Spirit (Joyce Meyer)
The Me I Want to Be – DVD Series (John Ortberg) Overwhelmed: Winning the War Against Worry (Perry Noble)

Troubled Minds: Mental Illness & the Church’s Mission (Amy Simpson)
Emotionally Healthy Spirituality (Peter Scazzero)

PW Outcome 5: Hope for the Future

Growth Suggestion A:

The Resurrection of Jesus provides hope for the future! It gives believers confidence in the life that is to come, but also in the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives today. Do you find yourself worrying about your future? Memorize Romans 8:28 and recite it every time you begin to worry. Learning to live a life of faith is a sign of Christian maturity. You don’t know how the future will pan out, but you can put your faith and trust in the One who does! Have you become fearful for your family members who are not serving the Lord or worried about raising your children in such a godless age? It’s easy to become fearful about your career, financial situation, or health. Yet, fear is not from God (2 Tim. 1:7). You must “never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God” (Corrie Ten Boom). There is hope in Christ for both your heavenly future and your earthly future. When doubt and fear arise, speak Scripture to your situation (think particularly about Mt. 6:25-34) and remind yourself of hope. Never focus on fear.

Growth Suggestion B:

If you truly understand your future hope and it has changed your perspective on life, you must also be willing to share it with those you love. Perhaps you have friends or family who are seemingly hostile to the Gospel message. While you must respect their right to accept or reject the Gospel, ask God to prepare their hearts to hear about your blessed hope. Be sensitive to the Spirit’s leading and when the time is right, share your hope and confidence for the future. Perhaps introducing them to the hope of the believer will help them come to faith.

Growth Suggestion C:

Understanding your hope for the future gives you a new perspective on death. Death, for the Christian, is not to be feared. “To live is Christ, to die is gain!” Are you fearful of what happens when this life is over? Are you afraid of dying? Perhaps you’re afraid of the pain associated with dying, of the uncertainty of it all, for those left behind, or other issues surrounding death. If you find yourself gripped with a serious fear of death, take practical steps that would alleviate some of the uncertainty. You could begin by preparing a will. This would ensure that your assets would be cared for according to your wishes and that those you love would be provided for. You could also reconcile any broken relationships. Finally, recognize that there’s a difference be-tween being responsible and being obsessed. You can responsibly care for things now that are significant if you or a close loved one were to pass away. However, this is entirely different from allowing your mind to be controlled by an irrational fear of death. A Kingdom perspective demands the realization that while you love your family, God loves them more. All the paperwork and planning in the world won’t give you peace of mind in this area. Adopting a Kingdom perspective will enable you to live fully and freely, while also living responsibly. If this is still an issue for you, could do a biblical study on heaven to put your mind at ease regarding what happens after death. And if there is still concern you should seek the help of a professional Christian counselor who can help you overcome your fear and develop a hope for the future that you can rejoice in!

Suggested Growth Resources:

Resurrected: Experience Freedom from the Fear of Death (Josh McDowell and Sean McDowell)
Living in Hope of Eternal Life: An Exposition of the Book of Titus (Paige Patterson)
Fearless: Imagine Your Life Without Fear (Max Lucado) Restoring Broken Relationships: The Path to Peace and Forgiveness (Neil T. Anderson)

PW Outcome 6: Clean Conscience

Growth Suggestion A:

Do you struggle with things in your past that you keep beating yourself up over? This isn’t helpful to your personal or spiritual development. God has forgiven your past. Understanding God’s forgiveness is imperative if you desire to live with a clean conscience and be able to get past sin and bad decisions in your personal history. As believers, we must understand that God doesn’t keep bringing up our past and rubbing it in our faces. “Once again you will have compassion on us. You will trample our sins under your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean” (Micah 7:19). As a first step to understanding this, find a rock and write on it a specific sin you’ve been struggling with, or something more general like “past.” Find a body of water and drop the rock in! Understand that just as that rock is now long gone, so are your sins, your past, and the things you dwell on. Next time you find yourself focusing on your past, think about the image of the rock sinking and remember that your past is forgotten – let it go!

Growth Suggestion B:

There may be people in your life who bring up your past or your faults. Perhaps they make you feel as though you are insufficient for ministry, leadership, or even salvation. Remember that Scripture tells you that no one can accuse you of wrong if you’ve made proper at-tempts to make it right (Rm. 12:9-19). On your discipleship journey, you have to discern between healthy and unhealthy friendships; they are never neutral. A close friendship can either build you up or tear you down. Healthy disciples and friends should seek to edify, build up, and encourage others. If you are involved in a negative relationship, it may require you to have a difficult conversation with your friend to let them know how you feel. Your friend may not realize their negative effect on you. If your friend is made aware of their behavior and is unwilling to change, you may need to distance yourself form the relationship for the purpose of your health and growth as a dis-ciple. It’s a hard choice, but a necessary one. Sometimes believers can be in unhealthy relationships that they can’t just walk away from. If you are in an unhealthy marriage, or have unhealthy relationships with family or an employer, a pastor can refer you to a Christian counselor who is able to help you navigate through these issues.

Growth Suggestion C:

Often in positions of ministry/leadership, people find themselves torn be-tween what they feel Scripture says or how they feel God is leading them and the opinions/traditions of others. As a spiritual leader, you have to develop confidence that your responsibility is to please God, not people. When making difficult choices or attempting to change the culture of the ministry you’re involved in, do not attempt to make these changes alone. Work with other leaders and mentors – partially for personal/spiritual support and partially to ensure you’re on the right track. When attempting to navigate these changes, you must live with resolve and not bend to ex-ternal pressure. You can’t please both God and people (Mt. 6:24; Gal. 1:10). You must seek ap-proval from God alone. If you’re navigating through a difficult process in ministry or leadership, it may mean that you lose the favour of some people. If you are sincerely following the will of God, you should have a clean conscience about this and proceed according to the leading of the Spirit.

Suggested Growth Resources:

The Ragamuffin Gospel (Brennan Manning)
A Glimpse of Jesus: The Stranger to Self-Hatred
(Brennan Manning)
Named by God: Overcoming Your Past, Transforming Your Present, Embracing Your Future
(Kasey Van Norman)
The Rules of Engagement for Overcoming Your Past (Cindy Trimm)
Unstuck – CD Series (Chip Ingram)

PW Outcome 7: Self-Discipline

Growth Suggestion A:

Self-discipline is a difficult trait to master for any leader. Most believers could grow in this area. It could be in the area of physical health, laziness, lack of persistence in the spiritual disciplines, getting up or going to bed on time, properly managing finances, housework, diet, etc. Self-discipline in the area of physical wellness is not something that Christians talk much about. Perhaps they don’t consider it to be spiritual (but it absolutely is). Evaluate an area of your physical life where you see a true lack of self-discipline. Use a journal, tablet, or smartphone to write down a few sentences about the problem. Then, make an easy-to-follow plan, suggesting only an attainable step to growth that you will commit to following for 7 consecutive days. If you have poor self-discipline in the area of diet, write this down along with an attainable positive action plan and commit to it for 7 days. Journal about your progress during those days. Perhaps, for example, if you drink a lot of soft drinks, your first step to self-discipline in this area could be cutting out all soft drinks for 7 days and replacing them with water. If you’re successful, continue for another 7 days. If not, start over. After 14 days of success, add an additional component to your plan. If you need to be more physically active, start with something attainable. If you’re a couch potato, your goal shouldn’t be to run 10K. Start with a goal of several 10-20 minute walks per week and continue from there. Discipline in the area of physical health will carry over to your spiritual health as well.

Growth Suggestion B:

Many leaders struggle with spiritual discipline yet won’t admit their difficulties. Perhaps they think, “I’m a spiritual leader, after all! How can I lead others into spiritually fulfilling lives if I am unable to live a life of authentic spirituality myself?” The quick answer is: you can’t. Use a journal, tablet, or smartphone to write down a few sentences about the area in your spiritual life needing growth. Then, make an easy-to-follow plan, outlining an attainable step to growth that you will commit to following for 7 consecutive days. If you have very poor discipline in the area of consistency in your devotional life, write down your problem and an attainable positive action plan for 7 days. Perhaps, you can start by acquiring a short, easy to read devotional book. Make a checklist for 7 days and commit to following the devotional during that time. If you’re successful, do the same for another 7 days. If you’re unsuccessful, start again. After following a devotional plan consistently for several weeks, you should add another element to your devotional time, such as Scripture memorization. The key is starting with a manageable goal, turning that goal into a habit, and continuing to develop self-discipline as you grow.

Growth Suggestion C:

Perhaps you are a very disciplined person in all major areas of your life. You may want to challenge yourself by also incorporating the discipline of self-denial into your life. While all Christians are called to “deny themselves,” being intentional about self-denial will draw you closer to Christ. Set aside a period of time to devote to self-denial for the purpose of drawing closer to Christ. Fasting is an obvious example of self-denial. However, you may need to remove other things from your life for a period of time. Why not remove all television and other technology from your life for 48 hours and replace the time you would have spent on those devices to prayer and listening to God. If you typically watch television on the weekends, devote a full weekend to silence, solitude, prayer, reading God’s Word, and listening to His voice. This will take great self-discipline, but you will undoubtedly draw near to God and He will draw near to you (James 4:8). You will need to deny yourself of something that you enjoy or something that is valuable to you. It may be technology for some; it may be food or sweets for others, or it may be a leisure activity. The purpose of self-denial is to sacrifice for the purpose of drawing closer to God and developing the ability to hear Him more clearly.

Suggested Growth Resources:

The Power of Habit (James Duhigg) Canada’s Food Guide
Follow Me (David Platt)
The Daniel Plan

PW Outcome 8: Manage Personal Resources

Growth Suggestion A:

The way you manage your income, expenditures, and debt commitments are huge indicators of your spiritual maturity. Believers are required to be good stewards of their resources. This can be exceptionally difficult for young pastors and leaders who are just beginning their careers and who are managing a budget for the first time. It takes some getting used to!Many young people are managing significant amounts of financial debt acquired through post-secondary education. This, coupled with low starting salaries, can be difficult to handle. One of the most freeing feelings is to be financially secure and stable and perhaps the best way to ac-complish this is to create a budget. A quick Internet search will generate tons of resources for creating a budget. Some quick tips include: 1) Make it a priority to pay more than the minimum payment on loans (student, visa, line of credit, etc.). This will lessen the length of time required to pay off the debt and lessen the amount of money lost to interest; 2) Organize and assess all financial statements from the past 6 months to see where your money is going. Sometimes people waste money without realizing it (i.e. Eating out, shopping for non-necessities, entertainment); and 3) Evaluate all your bills to see if there is something you can eliminate. Cell phone plans and cable TV are nice to have, but they are not necessities. Cutting non-essentials to bring about financial stability is well worth the sacrifice. Cutting the cable bill can mean a $600-$1000 per year savings. Creating a personal/family budget, putting it on paper and sticking to it, will help you best manage your per-sonal resources.

Growth Suggestion B:

Scripture instructs Christ-followers to be free from the love of money (Heb. 13:5). Often the trend is that the more you have, the more you want. Do you find yourself becoming too attached to your bank account or your ‘toys?’ Maybe your attachment comes in the form of obsession with the numbers, the next payday, the interest rates, etc. Are you crazed over the new tablet or smartphone on the market and won’t rest until you have it? Are you constantly thinking about the ATV or snowmobile that you’d like to purchase next? Is the goal of your career to be able to take trips every year? If you answer ‘yes’ to any of the above, you may have a ‘love of money’ that is neither pleasing to God, nor spiritually healthy. Even those who are not in good financial standing can be obsessed with money and material possessions. If you are too preoccupied with financial matters, perhaps you need to make some concrete changes in how to look at wealth. You will never be content with your life if you’re not content with what you have. If you’re serious about giving every area of your life to God, try getting rid of the item(s) that you are too preoccupied with. Donate the money to missions while striving to “be content in all circumstances” (Phil 4:11-13).

Growth Suggestion C:

While most leaders don’t advocate for a “prosperity gospel” theology, they firmly believe that God honours faithful giving. He “loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7). While you may be faithful and consistent in your tithe, missions giving, and other regular contri-butions, are you faithful to the subtle promptings of the Spirit to give outside of your regular of-ferings? What would you do if you felt prompted to give to a person or cause that would not result in an income tax receipt? What if you felt led to give to someone who you didn’t feel deserved your charity? If you open yourself to the guidance of the Spirit in terms of your finances, you can be assured that God will lead you to give, both selflessly and generously. Remain open to the Spirit’s prompting, give freely, and be careful to keep your giving private (Mt. 6).

Suggested Growth Resources:

Managing God’s Money: A Biblical Guide
(Randy C. Alcorn)
Money, Possessions, and Eternity (Randy C. Alcorn) The Treasure Principle (Randy C. Alcorn)
How to Be Rich: It’s Not What You Have, It’s What You Do with What You Have (Andy Stanley)
https://creditcanada.com/how-to-create-a-monthly-budget
http://www.compasscanada.org
www.ynab.com