- Confess any shortcomings.
Confession means “to agree with” God what is true about one’s condition. One must stop blaming others and excusing themselves. When an individual asks God for forgiveness, “He is faithful and just to forgive” them (1 John 1:9, NLT). Only when someone confesses that they are stuck will they begin to get unstuck and start to grow in their faith.
- Admit any failures.
No one can save themselves. One must come to the end of themselves, admit their failures, and say, “God, I’ve failed in my attempts to change and to get better.” But if someone tries to overcome their problems by willpower alone, they will fail. Instead of trying harder, they must admit they are weak, and then they’ll find strength in the Lord. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says Christ’s “power works best in weakness.”
- Get help from God.
What is the essence of humility? When one recognizes that one can’t do it on their own and asks for help. Perhaps they struggle with codependency, alcohol addiction, or depression. They can’t overcome these alone; however, they can ask God and then others for help. Matthew 7:7 says, “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for.”
- Ask God to reveal any weaknesses.
David asked God in Psalm 139:24 to “Point out anything” he was doing that offended Him. David’s request brought to light his brokenness and sin that needed to be forgiven and turned from. In 12-step language, this is taking a “moral inventory,” which involves granting the Holy Spirit permission to reveal any weaknesses and transform anything that needs to be changed.
- Turn from evil.
When one discovers the sick areas of their life, one must turn from them to be healed. For example, when someone realizes they are controlling, they can confess it to God and a safe person, like a licensed counselor or accountability partner. Spiritual growth happens when one confesses their sins to the Lord, brings them into the light, and repents.
- Become aware of unmet needs, and learn to meet them in safe relationships.
If someone did not get the love they needed as a child, it’s not too late for them to find safe people to help them to get their needs met. Psalm 68:6 says, “God places the lonely in families.” Since one’s hurt usually stems from their relationships, their healing must also come from relationships.
- Make amends.
The Bible teaches that to have peace with God, one must have peace with others. 1 John 4:20 puts it this way: “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar.” It’s impossible to grow in one’s faith unless one takes responsibility for the pain they’ve caused others and takes steps to make amends.
- Forgive others.
After someone has confessed their sins to God and has received His forgiveness, they can extend that same grace to others. In fact, a person’s recovery and well-being are intimately tied to their ability to forgive and extend grace to others. It does a person no good to receive God’s forgiveness but fail to forgive others. Forgiveness comes not just with the will but from “your heart” (Matt. 18:35).
- Use God-given talents wisely.
God has given every person unique abilities to use. What was the difference between the “good servant” and the “wicked servant” in Matthew 25? The good servant invested their talents wisely, while the wicked servant did not. How much each servant accomplished didn’t matter—what mattered is whether they had used what they had been given.
- Seek the Lord daily.
Anyone who asks the Lord will receive; anyone who seeks will find (See Matt. 7:8). This is always based on whether what is requested is God’s will. Even if God does not answer one’s prayers right away, one should persevere in prayer and keep presenting one’s requests to the Lord daily as the Bible teaches in the Parable of the Persistent Widow (See Luke 18:1-5).
- Gain truth and wisdom.
God has revealed His truth in the Bible and even through His creation. Know what God teaches in His Word, become a student of it, pray over it, and meditate on it. Applying biblical truth to life takes wisdom. Those who have grown in their faith can use the truth from God’s Word to “recognize the difference between right and wrong” (Heb. 5:14).
- Obey God’s commandment to love.
Why do some grow in their faith while others remain stagnant? Those who hold onto hatred, revenge, and self-centeredness do not grow. But those who “love one another” (I John 3:23) as God commanded heal and grow. Love connects the disconnected, softens the hardened heart, and mends the broken soul.
by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend