Building Simple Habits that Foster Spiritual Growth
In my 2014 Reader Survey, one bit of feedback that I received from many readers dealt with the issue of spiritual growth. They told me that the love the productivity topics but also appreciate an occasional reflection on the spiritual life.
In this post, I thought I would share the planks that are part of my daily walk with God. Keep in mind that these might not apply for all readers. They've just been helpful to me and if that is an encouragement to you, great!
- Morning quiet time. This includes reading the daily Mass readings, doing some journaling in Day One and some quiet time. I need to remind myself to occasionally shut up and just let God speak into my heart. I love to stare out the window and appreciate nature. This step typically happens in my home office or at the kitchen table. I might also work through a full-length book. (for more on that topic, read this)
- Mid-day break. There's nothing better than 15-20 minutes alone in the middle of the day. I like to take my lunch and head over to a local park near where I work. Every time, without fail, I return to work with more energy and ready to tackle phone calls or whatever.
- Evening reading. Of the three daily routines, this is the one that I struggle with most. I'm trying to read through a book in the Bible and enjoy The Message translation for this part of the day.
Our family goes to church on Sunday or Saturday night. The time varies depending on our schedule. We have two churches that are close by and are a part of our worshiping habit.
- Missionary Cenacle Apostolate: Cary and I have found the Missionary Cenacle Apostolate to be an excellent compliment to weekly worship. We meet with our local group once a month for support and to reflect on the writings of Fr. Thomas Judge, who founded the MCA.
- Spiritual direction: of all of the routines mentioned in this list, the one that has had the single greatest impact on my life is this one. I visit with a priest who is trained as a spiritual director. He knows me better than anyone and can tell when it's time to encourage me or kick my butt (not literally). I can't overstate how powerful this has been in my walk with Christ.
- Quarterly, personal offsite meeting: my assistant schedules a day each quarter when I'm off campus and can do some higher level work. This is really work specific but I find it to be a spiritual practice as well.
- Annual retreat: you've got to find out what works for you in this category. I like to get away by myself and either attend a conference or head off to a quiet place. This year I attended Catalyst Atlanta and it was truly amazing.
Making a list like this is part humbling and hopefully, part helpful. I am (and you can ask my family on this!) a work in progress and the farthest thing from perfect. The routines I've provided have worked for me and hopefully will work for you. Spiritual growth is about making progress, plain and simple. It's about reminding yourself that God is God and you are not. It's about a personal relationship with God that is active and moves you to love others more fully.
Attention to one's spiritual life is perhaps the most important aspect of one's day, week or month.