GROWTH — I’m a Papa. I have grandchildren and a garage full of all the right tools. I am 55 years old growing. I have been reading my Bible, praying, serving, and trying to honor God for the past 35 years. I don’t always like it, but I am still growing. I’m still trying to figure out what I’m going to be when I grow up. God is still working on me. Yes, there is still plenty of room for growth.
I think of my desire to continue to grow and mature. I want to become the right kind of follower of Jesus Christ. I want to reflect the love described in I Corinthians, chapter 13. It’s what the Apostle Paul calls, “a more excellent way.” As an educator I picked up on the biblical standards for growth that a Stanford psychology professor applies to adolescent brain development.
According to Carol Dweck (Mindsets and Equitable Education), growth happens best with teenagers when rightly responding in five key areas their lives:
- SUCCESS OF OTHERS
That’s great for kids, but I find that when I am growing God is using these things as my “growth agents.” Let me explain…
- Challenges must be something I embrace; I learn something new from them; “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
- Obstacles help me become stronger and build fortitude, think obstacle course; “…perseverance produces character and character produces hope…” Romans 5:3
- Effort becomes the active manifestation of the faith I hold. “Faith without works is dead.” James 2:17
- Criticism is painful, but I recognize, not only can I learn something, but criticsim won’t destroy my true foundation. “and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.” I Peter 3:16
- Success of others is to be celebrated. Oh what joy when I trust God so much that I am happy when others receive praise. When I trust God I am free from despair or resentment when others are exhalted, even when they don’t deserve it. “Rejoice with those who rejoice.” Romans 12:15
My natural tendency is NOT a growth mindset. My natural tendency is a fixed mindset.
I want to avoid challenges. Obstacles make me want to give up. Effort becomes pointless. Criticism defeats me. And I feel threatened by the success of others.
Here is a chart adapted from Carol Dweck’s research. Differences between Growth and Fixed Mindsets:
Discipleship — DISCIPLINE. Everyday I am aware of my commitment to follow Jesus. It is a discipline that I love… most of the time. What I don’t love is what it sometimes takes to grow through challenges and obstacles. I am not always happy with the amount of effort it takes to go exercise, or memorize Scripture, or forgive a wrong. I still find that criticism cuts me to the soul and is hurtful. There are times when I question God when I see unscrupulous people who seem to be prospering. Discipleship is a commitment to grow in faith, even when circumstances seem to be pushing me down.
“Consider it all joy my brothers when you face trials of many kinds. You know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance (maturity).” James 1:2-3