Are you making progress …?
Paul writes of his own self-discipline in making life-long progress:
Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.1 Cor 9:25
He challenges Timothy:
Devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching … practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress1 Timothy 4.13,15
What follows is a very common view of the progress of our Christian lives, of our progress in ministry, and our progress in preaching. It is one in which we put a lot of effort into getting going, learning and growing, and then, having made a good start, we just maintain the same level for the rest of our lives.
This is unrealistic. If we are not making progress, growing, learning, changing, improving, we will be slowly declining, in our prayer life, our effectiveness in ministry, our study of the Bible our preaching.
[The same applies to our marriages, our parenting, our friendships, our contribution to our community. If we are not growing, we are shrinking!]
Our pattern of life should be continued growth, continued learning, continued usefulness in every area of life: our own Christian lives, our meditation on the Bible, our prayer life, our holiness, our usefulness in ministry and in preaching.
[Admittedly, there will be some ups and downs on the way up!]
This is the picture Paul paints of his life:
But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.Philippians 3.13,14
This is how Paul challenges Timothy:
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.2 Tim 2:15
Life-long changing, life-long learning, and life long transformation are some of the privileges of humans. Life-long changing, life-long learning, and life long transformation are some of the privileges of Christians. Life-long changing, life-long learning, and life long transformation are some of the privileges of people in ministry.
I found a wonderful prayer in The Valley of Vision: ‘May my last day be my best day’. I have adapted it, and made it into a prayer I pray every day. Here it is.
‘May this day be my best day of knowing, loving, pleasing, praising and serving you, and living for your glory.’