Spiritual growth begins with discomfort!
One of the keys to spiritual growth is knowing and doing the Bible. (James 1:22) When a group member is learning the Bible and becomes aware of a biblical expectation that is not being carried out, an attitude that is out of order, or a paradigm that needs to be overhauled, the leader must gently raise the bar of expectation and move that group member toward action. Spiritual growth occurs when the following phases are recognized and carried out:
Phase 1: Recognition of a biblical expectation
Phase 2: Discomfort is experienced by the individual who has become aware of a need for a changed belief or acting on a biblical obligation
Phase 3: The small group leader wisely guides the group member toward action
Phase 4: The small group member makes the decision to do what’s right rather than choosing to do what’s easy
Phase 5: The small group member acts
Phase 6: The small group leader and small group members celebrate with the individual that has courageously moved beyond their comfort zone
Phase 7: The individual experiences growth and is more easily motivated to take on the next act of obedience found in the Bible
Some will say that a small group should be comfortable and that expecting people to do something out of their comfort zone is asking too much. When Paul told a young pastor what Scripture does he wrote, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim. 3:16-17) Most of us don’t like to be taught, we despise it when we are reprimanded, are embarrassed when we are corrected, and training is hard work. Obviously, the Words of God are uncomfortable to know and even more uncomfortable when they demand a changed mindset or lifestyle.
Andy Rooney nailed it when he gave us these wise words, “I’ve learned…. That everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it.” It’s the responsibility of the leader not only help the small group member get to the top of the mountain, but to motivate them to start toward the precipice, and encourage them along the way. And in most instances encouraging group members to change a paradigm or shift a lifestyle choice is uncomfortable. But remember this…”Spiritual growth begins with discomfort.”