Back in April, I was asked to come in and meet with a ministry at our church called Mentoring Future Families. This is a strategic outreach for single parents (typically women) and their children. They serve a meal, then there is a babysitter for the kids and the moms go and talk about stuff (i.e. parenting, life, etc.). Really neat ministry.
After introducing myself and talking about children and youth ministry at Hayward Wesleyan Church, I asked if they had any questions they had always wanted to ask a pastor. One young mother asked me this profoundly simple, yet complex question: “How can I grow in my spirituality?”
One of the leaders looked over at me and said something to the effect of “Boy! I’m glad you’re here!”
A question like that could mean any number of things. Some women in this group are Christians while others are not. I could have given her some tips and techniques, however, I could tell that that is what she wanted me to do. I remember thinking to myself (praying actually!): How would Jesus field this question? I thought of the rich young ruler who really wanted some tips and techniques from Jesus in order to “inherit eternal life” and yet Jesus told him to get rid of everything and follow him. So I answered the question this way:
I talked about my own experience with reading the Bible. I said that as a pastor and a student of the Bible, I have read it countless times. I told her that generally speaking I have a good handle on the Old Testament and the Epistles in the New Testament. While there is always new things to learn and insight to be gained, by and large those areas of the Bible are rather easy for me to grasp and continue to work through understanding them. However, the area of the Bible that gives me the most trouble is the Gospels. That Jesus character always trips me up! Stories in the OT stay fairly consistent. Paul and the other writers in the NT are not extremely shocking. Jesus, however, is extremely shocking. Just when I think I’ve got him figured out, as in what he’s probably going to say next, he does something totally unexpected! It’s like he’s God or something!! No matter how many times I read stories in the Gospels, I am always on my heels when it comes to interacting with Jesus. It’s good because it reminds me that as humans we won’t have this thing all figured out, but there is a person that we can look to who does have it figured out.
So my advice was to read through the Gospels and try to figure Jesus out and see where that might take your “spirituality.”
(note: I really do think the rest of the Scriptures do the same thing I am talking about with Jesus in the Gospels. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that I have the rest of the Bible conquered—I do not. At this stage in my own biblical understanding, the Gospels is what continually challenge me.)