How do spiritual disciplines help us grow, spirituality, and in wisdom and character?
Ortberg says, the primary goal of our life as Christians is to become transformed spiritually. Our ministry has little to do with simply assisting people of where they will go when they die, or just getting to heaven. People’s spiritual transformation in this life should be our goal (Vos, 2012). We can become like Christ in character and in power (ability to act) and realize our highest ideals of well-being and well-doing.
Discipline means pupil and to learn, and spiritual disciplines are practices of faith. Once employed by Christians seeking to know God, by yielding to the Holy Spirit’s sanctifying power, by the surrender to Divine Will in our lives, they help us grow spiritually in wisdom and character.
The twelve spiritual disciplines according to (Hale, 2013) referencing Richard Foster, can be organized into sections of: inward, outward, and corporate practices. In personal development, prayer, meditation, fasting, and study are suggested. In service to the body of Christ, simplicity, submission, solitude, service, confession, guidance, celebration, and worship are included.
These disciplines help shift our perspective (attitude) from a naturalistic (I) to a more Holy (we) point of view. Ignorance, arrogance, self-righteousness, denying sin, and attraction to idols is common malpractice of spiritual principles, which obstruct our view of Jesus.
The disciplined man (woman) can know God’s ways by study, scripture, learning history of God’s church, and understanding practical theology. A recognition of the source of all blessing and sustenance through fasting (abstaining) from food, commitments, distractions, or anything that takes focus away from Jesus brings us closer within ourselves. By simplicity, we can slow down, to seek the kingdom of first, not the pursuit of wealth and power. In stillness (solitude), God’s voice is clearer, providing room for silence, waiting on God, and hearing that still small voice of His Spirit.
Each of the 12 spiritual principles combat the sinful nature of the phenomenal world, to bring the believer into a better mental, emotional, and spiritual state of higher awareness of God, his nature, and his kingdom. They all bring the believer back into focus to the Holy One and seek his will.
Schools and disciplines cannot teach wisdom (it must be experienced) but can teach for wisdom and ethics. Balancing (harmonizing) intrapersonal, interpersonal, extra personal interests over the short and long terms through the mediation of positive ethical values provides an aspect for wisdom (Lynn et al., 2014). Knowledge can destroy the world, while wisdom can only make it better. The combination of these mental characteristics and behavior distinguishes a person (disposition), quality, effectiveness, moral strength, and integrity–Character.
Hale, N. (2013). 12 Spiritual Disciplines: Tools to discern the Kingdom of God. Slideshare. https://www.slideshare.net/nathanrhale/the-12-spiritual-disciplines-19575604
Vos, B. (2012). The spiritual disciplines and Christian ministry. Evangelical Review of Theology, 36(2), 100–114. https://lopes.idm.oclc.org/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=rfh&AN=ATLA0001891054&site=eds-live&scope=site&custid=s8333196&groupid=main&profile=eds1