How to Thrive in Your Faith
- Whitney Hopler Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2014 18 Sep
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Mark Hall’s new book Thrive: Digging Deep, Reaching Out (Zondervan, 2014).
Are you living in survival mode by just trying to get through another day of your life however you can? Do you find yourself thinking that if you could just reach the end of something – like a project, an illness, or a payment plan – you can finally enjoy a break before the drudgery begins all over again?
If you’re just surviving, you’re not living the life that God created you to live. God intends for you to thrive. You’re meant to grow to your fullest potential in life by knowing God and making Him known. Pursuing those purposes will make it possible for you to enjoy the best in life.
Here’s how you can thrive in your faith:
Dig deep into the roots of your relationship with Jesus. Just like a tree grows physically from digging its roots deep down into the ground, you can grow spiritually by digging deep into practices that will help you understand who God is and who you are in him. You can get to know God and his purposes for your life, no matter what, if you seek him. God will orchestrate his dreams for you despite your lesser goals and mistakes. Keep in mind that God’s dreams for you are bigger than your own. Start a habit of reading, studying, and thinking about God’s Word, the Bible. The more you do, the more the Holy Spirit will use its truths to renew your mind so you can see God, and yourself, from an accurate perspective.
Don’t allow fear, doubt, discouragement, or challenging circumstances to keep you from becoming who you’re meant to be. God is in ultimate control and has a plan for your life, but it’s up to you to respond to it in obedience. Rather than trying to earn God’s love through religious efforts, simply respond to the loving relationship that he freely offers you, confident that he already loves you completely and unconditionally. Guard your mind from insidious evil messages in certain movies, TV shows, songs, etc. by analyzing what you’re watching and listening to, and avoiding what isn’t healthy or truthful. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you the wisdom you need to discern how Satan is working to try to redefine what you believe, and to resist those efforts by renewing your mind regularly. Identify specific types of temptations to sin that are most powerful for you (such as watching pornography or overspending while shopping) and develop a plan to resist those temptations. Ask someone you trust to hold you accountable to follow your plan.
Since God often ministers to you through other believers, it’s crucial to invest in community regularly, developing relationships with people who are both more and less spiritually mature than you so you all can learn from each other. Worship God frequently with other believers – praising God for who he is and thanking him for what he’s done – and you’ll all grow closer to him and each other in the process. Keep in mind that when you start to thrive in your relationship with Jesus, you’ll face opposition from evil. When that happens, rely on Jesus to empower you overcome the challenges instead of pursuing your own answers or the world’s shortcuts. Place your trust fully in Jesus, not in yourself, and He will strengthen you.
Reach out to other people. As a tree reaches out to its surroundings with branches, God calls you to reach out to others to make him known to them through relationships. Doing so helps you show the world that you belong to Jesus and that Jesus is God. Once you’re thriving, you’re meant to help others start to thrive, by sharing your faith, mentoring others through discipleship, and serving others with acts of love and compassion. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you notice the people around you and see how valuable each one of them really is from his perspective. Don’t hide your scars; instead, use them, realizing that scars are a map of God’s grace in your life. When you show others your scars and tell them how God helped you get through the struggles that caused them, your scars will point others toward God to help them in their own lives.
Rather than worrying about trying to do something big for God in the future, simply do whatever small things God calls you to do right now, and your faithfulness will have a big impact for the better on the people around you. Yield your own will to God’s will for you every day, and the more you do, the more the Holy Spirit will grow love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control in your soul. Whenever you’re communicating with others about faith, strike the right balance between truth and love. Love earns the right to speak the truth, while truth proves that you really love. Keep in mind that Jesus hates sin but loves sinners and befriends them. Love people no matter what, but also challenge them to change in response to God’s love for them, by confessing and repenting of sin so they can become the people they’re meant to be. Build a bridge to Jesus for people by meeting them where they are, listening to them, praying for them, sharing the Gospel message with them, and following up to help them keep growing closer to Jesus however you can. As you keep learning more about God, yourself, and other people, expect God to lead you on adventures that will challenge you to take risks and trust him in deeper ways. Keep following wherever God leads you – and as you do, you’ll keep inspiring others to follow wherever God leads them.
Mark Hall is a true storyteller and a teacher with a heart for ministry. He is lead singer and songwriter for the Grammy Award-winning band Casting Crowns, whose first three albums have sold nearly four million copies. He has been in ministry nearly 20 years and has served at Eagle's Landing First Baptist Church in McDonough, Georgia, for the last eight years. Mark admits he’d be overwhelmed by life’s demands were it not for his wife of 19 years, Melanie, who also serves as Casting Crowns’ road manager. Even on tour, Mark and Melanie homeschool their four children: John Michael, Reagan, Zoe, and Hope.
Whitney Hopler, who has served as a Crosswalk.com contributing writer for many years, is author of the Christian novel Dream Factory, which is set during Hollywood's golden age. She produced a site about angels and miracles for About.com. Follow her on Twitter @WhitneyHopler.
Publication date: September 18, 2014