How to Grow in Your Character and Values

Summary: Jesus has made several ways for you to grow as a disciple of Jesus, to look more like Him. What are some of those ways to grow? You can use these models and methods to measurably grow in Christ.


In my last post, I described the beauty of worshiping together as disciples of Jesus. In this post, I want to conclude this miniseries on being Formed in the Body of Christ by talking about how to grow in your character and values.

Children have marks of their growth over time. One popular system is putting notches in the doorframe, checking to see how much a child has grown. We have all been through school where from preschool to college and beyond there have been measurable marks of our improvement.

What about spiritual growth? How do you know you’re becoming more like Jesus? How do you know you’re not? There is no technical standardized measurements for Christian growth that I know of. Everyone sees it a little differently. But, there are measurable marks that you are growing in Jesus. The best way to know is by being involved in a faith community. Let’s get started.

Growing through Learning

We all have jokes about Sunday school knowledge. The answer is always Jesus, right? Some things could be said about the lack of true spiritual learning a person does in some church ministries like Sunday school, or even small groups. Nobody gets it completely right.

When I was in Bible College, we tried to get away from those pat answers. The best place to learn about Jesus is in Church. You grow as you pray, study God’s Word, and learn to apply it to your life. Increasing in knowledge does not mean you are growing to be more like Jesus. That is the measuring stick for spiritual growth.

Learning comes through knowing more about God through the Bible, but it also comes in other ways. Just knowing more about theology or the Bible is like having book smarts with new street smarts. It only gets you so far. There are hundreds, if not more, scholars who can tell you all about the Bible but don’t know Jesus.

It’s a good start, but it is not the only way to go. At the same time, if you don’t know anything about the Bible but you know Jesus, that should make you want to know more about the written Word. You can start with Bible learning and book smarts from theology and other Christian books. But you cannot stay there and still grow. You will hit a ceiling that requires you to do more than just knowing more.

Growing by Example

Another way you can gauge your spiritual growth is to find examples in your church, people to emulate. The best way for us to grow spiritually is for us to pattern our growth after those who show us a real, flesh and blood example of Jesus. Even in the church, these can be hard to find.

Once you find that person, or those people, do not try to become that person. You will be a different disciple then the person beside you. Seek to emulate the character and faith of that person. That is what you growth really takes off, especially when it is coupled with Bible learning.

When I was a kid, I loved to watch Michael Jordan play. He was so impressive. It never occurred to me that he was at one time a worse basketball player than I was. When I would play basketball in my backyard I would act like I was a big star like him. Even if I missed the who completely, I imagined it was a perfect swish every time.

Remember, the person you look up to and want to be like in Jesus will probably be more spiritually mature than you. Don’t try to be so much like that person that you become upset or anxious because they are so far ahead of you.

Give yourself some space to grow as the Holy Spirit wants you to grow instead of where you want to be. You cannot grow in leaps and bounds or skip steps in your spiritual growth. Be patient with yourself and with the process the Spirit has for you. He is not making look-alikes, unless you are a look-alike for Jesus.

Guidance of a Mentor

You can take emulating an older-in-the-faith saint you admire or like up to one step further. Let that person, or someone who is more spiritually mature then you become your mentor. Some people call this a father or mother in the faith, or a. This person can give you guidance as you grow in Christ.

It’s much more than a prayer partner, although this person well at least do that. It’s a person who will keep you accountable to whatever goals you set. They will be open about growing in Christ themselves, at least to a point that it helps you grow. This is not a gossip club or a mentor who makes you wonder if they have grown in Christ at all.

This person is not afraid to point you to someone else, perhaps their mentor or someone that has helped them, if they cannot guide you in an aspect of your growth process. I recommend this person of the same gender. You must trust this person to be able to share intimate details of your spiritual growth with them.

I could say more about spiritual mentors, but I have written about how to find a spiritual mentor elsewhere on my website. If you do not like how your mentorship is going, politely but honestly ask your mentor if you can look for someone else who might be able to help you in better ways. This is something you must do one-on-one. You cannot ghost your mentor, and then that person find out you are working with someone else. That’s not how this works.

The Discipleship Wheel

There are models for understanding spiritual growth as a disciple of Jesus. My favorite two models are really symbol on and a bit more complex one. The simple one is easy to remember, but these discipleship models do not necessarily test your growth as a disciple as much a show you how to grow.

The simplest way to know you are developing as a disciple of Jesus is the in-and-out method. Discipleship and growth is a reciprocal activity. You can take in teaching and learning all the ways we talked about above from one or more people but you must also give out what you take in.

Essentially, you should be mentored by more mature Christian and should be mentoring a person less mature than you in the faith. This forces you to grow not just from being mentored that to grow from mentoring someone else. They will ask you questions and challenge you to grow your self so you can help them grow.

A larger model of this reciprocal relationship, where you are taking in and giving out, is more of a wheel or circle. It begins with the moment of your salvation, followed by learning about Jesus, next by putting into practice what you learn.

At the top of the wheel where you once were saved by someone else, you share the gospel with someone and take them on as a less mature Christian that you mentor or disciple. This assures you continue to evangelize and disciple. Looking at discipleship, growing in Christ, in either of these two ways will help you grow and make sure you continue to grow closer to Jesus and more like Him.

Bringing It All Together

You should use all these approaches to learning and growing in Jesus. There is always someone ahead of you in Christian maturity. There is always someone behind you in Christian growth. Jesus designed it this way so we can help one another. Even Jesus grew in wisdom and favor with God and with men (Luke 2:52).

Do not be afraid to ask questions, seek different forms of guidance as you grow, and use any standard measurements your church or group has made for you. I have seen different ones, all of which have similar measurements for Christian growth. You can benefit from these tolls and others I have mentioned throughout this series.

We are coming down to the wire with only one more post on spiritual formation in this Conformed to Christ miniseries. It is all about discipleship and spiritual growth. It is my hope that at least some of this has helped you as you follow Jesus. Let us all endeavor to become greater disciples of Jesus and grow to be like Him as the Spirit enables us.

Growth Challenge

Which one of these methods do you need at this moment in your walk with Jesus? You can benefit from all of them. What’s the next step in your spiritual growth? You can experience moving ahead in your growth and and death revisiting lessons you think you have mastered. That is the way of the Spirit. He wants you to seriously grow instead of giving you a pass on something you still need to work on.

Up Next

With the close of this miniseries on being Formed in the Body of Christ, we now turn to the last post in this series on Conformed to Christ by describing one way to continue growing by making your own spiritual formation plan.

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

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