How to Grow — Working on What Matters

The Preacher asked, “For who knows what is good for a person in life, during the few and meaningless days they pass through like a shadow?” (Ecclesiastes 6:12).

It is a question that we should ask ourselves again and again. What is good, and what is to be done? What will make the most impact? In terms of growth, what should we concentrate on? There are so many things that could take our attention. What really matters?

In my first post on growth, I suggested that God created us to do primarily four things: live in relationship with Him and other human beings; do significant things that bless ourselves and others and bring glory to Him; and to enjoy His glory as reflected in creation.

These are four priorities that give us a framework for thinking about how to work on what matters most, the things that will be most beneficial for our growth, for our joy and peace, and for impact on the world. I will explain what each of the four things are and then propose ideas for implementing them in your life.

Relationship with God
Our relationship with God consists first and foremost in learning to receive the love that He wants to give us. I discussed this at length in my last post, so I won’t dwell on it here except to say this: our relationship with God, like any other relationship, takes time to develop. We have to be deliberate in setting aside time for it, or our relationship with God will not deepen.

The more we receive from God, the more we will learn to love Him in return. This is the greatest commandment, and the ability to love flows out of faith.

In addition to faith and love, we need to learn obedience. Even though we enjoy a relationship with God, it is not a relationship of equals. He is the Lord. We are His servants. We need to deliberately be asking what the Lord would have us to do and how we are to apply His commands and then do what He says! This is how our relationship with our Lord grows and we learn to trust Him.

Relationship with People
We are made for relationships. It is not good for a person to be alone.

In the last post, I spoke of people as being a support for us. We need people like that. However, we are also created and made to be a blessing to other people. We are made to love, and, once the hindrances to love are removed (i.e., sinful ones, see post 3 on how to grow), love is completely natural. The second greatest command is to love our neighbor as ourselves.

Who should we love? Anyone God brings into our lives. So, who are the people that God has put in our lives? Consider extended family, neighbors, co-workers, those who are in recreational organizations with us, those who go to the same places we do, and those in our church or other civic organizations. If we think about it, there are more opportunities for us to love than we tend to think.

How should we love? In my view, most of our problems in relationships come from seeking to make people more than they are. They are just people. People are good, and love is good. However, it’s easy to become too dependent on that love or a particular person’s love or a particular pattern of receiving love.

So, here is my advice on how to love: give what you want to give, accept what others want to give you, and let others give what they want to give. See love as a gift. If you feel you should give that gift, do so. Let others decide what they want to give. If they do not give the love you want, you have an everlasting fountain of love in what God gives, so you do not need to get upset. If they do give you love, accept it as a gift and evidence of the love that God has for you.

There are many more things that could be said about this, but this has consistently been the most helpful thought to me.

Work involves two things: the development of ourselves so we can work better and the doing of the work itself.

Development includes general health such as exercise, right eating, and proper rest. Development also involves things that generally help us become well-rounded people such as developing a variety of relationships, a liberal arts education, and experience in doing a variety of activities. Finally, it involves the specific development of our gifts and the skills needed to accomplish particular things, e.g., an electrician, a lawyer, a preacher.

There are two realms of works: creation and redemption. The works of creation include family, building up civilization, government, and anything conducive to human prosperity and dominion. The works of redemption involve the restoration of man to fellowship with God and a life that is in accord with what He has made us to be. This includes service in the church, counseling, sharing with others outside the church, Bible study, etc.

In determining what work we should do, we should ask three things. What are God’s commands? What are our opportunities? What are our gifts? For example, God commands us to provide for our families, and most us of need an influx of money in order to sustain our lives. So, this limits us in some extent in the types of work we can do. Most of us need to do something that someone will pay us to do.

We should always seek to do what is good and be better stewards of what God has given us. At the same time, we should recognize that all labor is valuable to God. God told humans to develop the earth after the fall and the works of creation are everywhere praised and recommended by God. At the same time, we all should also in some ways seek to contribute to God’s work of redemption.

Enjoyment of Creation
Often, this is viewed as a restorative act rather than a duty. It is a restorative act, but it is also a duty.

It is important for us to emphasize this because our natural tendency is to focus on the bad and let the good slip by. We focus on getting things done and do not take time to celebrate. Our fast paced life moves us from one thing to another. Our focus on phones keeps us looking down and missing the beauty that is all around us.

The Apostle Paul says, “God created [foods] to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer” (1 Timothy 4:3–5).

Thanksgiving is a duty. Thanksgiving involves seeing the good that is around us, taking it in, and giving God praise and thanks for all that He has made and all the good ways in which humans have used creation for good. Enjoying creation can include human works such as buildings, plays, or television shows.

It is important to note, though, that many of the good things that God has for us are the simple things that God has created–touching, feeling, seeing, and tasting the things He has made and enjoying the blessing of people in our lives.

Diagnostic Question
1. How do you take time to develop your relationship with God?
2. Do you ever ask of God, “What do you want me to do?” If you do, do you do it?
3. Who are some of the people in your life with whom you could connect with?
4. Are there people around you who could really use a contact from you?
5. Are there broken relationships that you need to work on?
6. What are your gifts?
7. What are the best opportunities you have to use your gifts?
8. What’s something you really enjoy that you haven’t done in a long time?
9. How are you doing at enjoying the good things around you? Do you take them in or mostly pass them by?
10. Do you take time to enjoy the people in your life?


This is part 6 of a 7 part series on how to grow. Read part 1 here, part 2 here, part 3 here, part 4 here, and part 5 here.


Leave a Reply