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Spiritual Formation: Scrutinizing Changes and Evaluating Progress Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: Jul 17th, 2021

Looking Forward

The path of spiritual development is complex and paved with multiple challenges, yet there is an evident possibility to attain a higher level of spirituality after finishing the course. It seems that, after the studying is complete, one can develop a more insightful perspective into the meaning of Christlikeness and the ideas that it strives to convey. Specifically, it is expected to become evident that the importance of unity among Christians should take the main priority as the goal that the Christian community has to attain. With the focus on bringing people of the Christian faith together and the promotion of Christian values and virtues, the course will shed a lot of light on the role of a leader and the strategies that can be used to convince people to accept the essential principles of the Christian faith.

The course is also expected to provide the platform for research and profound contemplations regarding the selection of wording used in the Bible and the impact that it has on its readers. An analysis of Biblical texts and their contextualization will reveal how one can shape people’s attitudes toward the issue of Christian unity and the ideas that allow brining the community together, particularly, the perception of specific signifiers of Christian faith. Thus, during the course, the choice of framing Biblical events and narratives as the means of shaping people’s beliefs and ideas is believed to be studied. Furthermore, opportunities for inspiring Christians and introducing them to a coherent and consistent dialogue regarding the essentials of faith will been discovered.

Overall, it is assumed that the course will familiarize its participants with the principles of spiritual formation. The latter might seem as a rather obscure term, yet it, in fact, embraces several very clear notions such as personal perception of Christian values, the development of spiritual insight, and the ability to mature emotionally as a Christian believer.

Although the described interpretation of spiritual formation seems comprehensive enough, it could still use significant improvements. Therefore, it is expected that the course in question will offer more extensive knowledge of the concept of spiritual formation and the strategies that can encourage spiritual growth. Moreover, since a Christian leader also has to focus on promoting spiritual development in others, the notion of spiritual formation as a community process will need to be explored. Similarly, the role of a leader in shaping people’s perception of Christian values and philosophy will have to be analyzed to determine the critical aspects of increasing spirituality and emotional maturity within a specific cultural setting.

Defining Spiritual Formation

Gaining spiritual insight is a multifaceted process that involves several stages, education being one of them. Representing one’s growth and maturity as a Christian, the notion of spiritual formation incorporates several aspects of personal development that have to be explored in order to reach a new stage of spirituality. At the same time, the phenomenon under analysis may contain several meanings depending on the facet of Christian beliefs that is being addressed by mentioning it (Mulholland & Barton, 2016). In the Pentecostal tradition, with which I identify myself as a Christian leader, the concept of spiritual formation is typically rendered as the “process of forming believers in the image of Christ” (Feller & Lombaard, 2018, p. 8). Therefore, spiritual formation can be deemed as the endeavor at following the words and wisdom of Jesus Christ while shaping one’s religious beliefs and defining one’s Christian values that constitute the bulk thereof.

The process of religious formation in the Pentecostal tradition also involves balancing the development of the mind with the one of the body. In order to train one’s mind, one has to scrutinize the ideas that Jesus Christ conveyed in his teachings. The resulting revelation with which one’s personal journey into the next stage of the spiritual development will begin is a crucial step toward progress (Mulholland & Barton, 2016). As Feller and Lombaard (2018) state, “The mind will in Pentecostal theology learn the truth of Christ and grows under the Great Teacher” (p. 8). As far as the needs of the body are concerned in the Pentecostal movement, following the example of Christ is also necessary. Feller and Lombaard (2018) explain that “Conforming the body to Christ’s behaviours will implement the standard of Christ in demonstrable actions displaying the Lordship of Jesus” (p. 8). Therefore, based on the Pentecostal Christianity concepts, the process of spiritual growth involves introducing balance to caring for the emotional, mental, and physical progress by familiarizing oneself with the life, philosophies, and beliefs of Jesus.

The significance of the described aspects of spiritual growth is stressed throughout the Scripture, with the most prominent ideas being linked to the examples of people experiencing spiritual decay. For instance, the importance of following the example of Jesus Christ in abstinence from hedonistic behaviors is mentioned in the Gospel of St. Luke (Mulholland & Barton, 2016). Specifically, it is mentioned that those failing to follow the described teachings “are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature” (“Luke 8:14-15,” n.d.). Thus, the importance of training one’s body along with one’s soul is emphasized directly.

Personal Spiritual Assessment

As a Pentecostal pastor, who plays the role of a spiritual leader, and an educator in an Adult Sunday School, one has to incorporate several practices of spiritual development into one’s leadership approach. Studying the Scripture and other essential religious texts is one of the crucial facets of a pastor’s spiritual development since it provides me with a profound insight into the teachings of Jesus and their implementation in the context of the school and one’s parish. Moreover, by subjecting religious texts to scrutiny, one can develop new insights and share them with one’s students and parish members to encourage their curiosity and promote a better understanding of Biblical texts.

Apart from exercises for the brain described above, one should also engage in the physical and spiritual practices that will allow one to advance in one’s spiritual development. Specifically, one should recognize fasting and praying as the key spiritual disciplines that constitute one’s religious practice presently. The focus on fasting will serve as the basis for developing the humility required for gaining a greater degree of spirituality, at the same time focusing on the notions of humility and humble life. Fasting reflects critical viewpoints on the idea of physical changes and the associated challenges that one needs to face in order to explore the essence of Jesus Christ’s teachings and philosophy.

Teaching humility through fasting and the associated restrictions allows one to cleanse one’s soul and focus on the contemplations associated with one’s spiritual progress. Due to the challenges associated with fasting, one can detach oneself from the mundane aspects of one’s secular life and study tone’s interpretation of the critical principles and values associated with the Christian teachings, as well as changes in one’s attitude toward them. Therefore, the process of fasting is both a physical and a spiritual challenge that leads to the development of a new source of satisfaction, which is less secular than the traditional elements of one’s life.

The significance of praying as a crucial constituent of the mental growth and a profound analysis of one’s knowledge of the Christian thought is truly priceless as well. Although praying in this context is linked to mental exercises as opposed to fasting, which is seen as a slightly more physiological one praying can also be seen as an attempt to encourage one’s emotional development. Similarly to fasting, which implies not only physical challenges but also spiritual cleansing, praying represents a twofold process of growth. On the one hand, it helps one to seek one’s true understanding of the Biblical values and principles. On the other hand, it implies addressing God directly and, therefore, represents a moment of personal growth as an exercise in emotional development.

The positive effects of the practices mentioned above are quite evident. Among the key benefits that praying, fasting, and exploring religious texts, one can build a strong system of Christian values and beliefs. The described advantage bears especially high significance for a person promoting faith to a community and encouraging people to accept Christian values. Specifically, the practices in question provide the foundation for teaching the essentials of Christian faith to the target demographic. In addition, as a Pentecostal minister, one should consider engaging people into the exploration of Biblical texts and a thorough study of their meaning.

Finally, the proposed activities allow one to become a role model for Christian believers to follow. For a minister, it is essential to prompt the spiritual development in the members of one’s parish. Similarly, the described goal has a crucial significance for teachers at Sunday schools, where people need guidance and support in their study and analysis of the Bible and its implicit meanings. Thus, by adopting the described methods as part and parcel of one’s religious practices, one will gain the skills required to guide students to the required ideas and help them build a Christian philosophical system. Thus, the target audience will follow the ethical standards and principles of the Christian faith by viewing their Christian leader as a role model who provides a worthwhile example of becoming a better person and a more inspired believer.

Apart from one’s life as a minister and a spiritual leader, the proposed changes integrated into everyday Christian rituals will lead to vast improvements in one’s spiritual life. For example, it will become possible to develop better knowledge of the foundational principles of Christianity and the meaning of Christlikeness. Viewing the life, spiritual journey, personal beliefs, and spiritual values of Jesus Christ as an example worth following, one will be able to approach the notion of Christlikeness. Thus, one will contribute to making the world a significantly better place through the implementation of the critical postulates that Jesus promoted. Although approaching the sanctity of Jesus is impossible, it is a viable idea to better the world by taking small steps in the direction that He showed in His teachings.

Nonetheless, there are some practices that might seem reasonable at first, yet cease to bring the joy and spiritual satisfaction that they are expected to deliver. For example, it would not be a sensible idea to criticize someone for failing to convert every member of their community to Pentecostal Christianity. Accepting differences in cultures and acknowledging the need for a theological dispute are some of the signs of personal and spiritual growth for a minister and a Christian teacher.

The Bible incorporates a large variety of texts and books that may speak to their readers directly, causing them to experience a spiritual revelation and prompting years of further development and growth. However, there is also a variety of other readings that may prompt one’s spiritual growth or steer it in an absolutely new direction that will lead to new personal discoveries. Academic readings addressing various theological points of dispute, such as “The Routledge Companion to the Practice of Christian Theology” (Higton & Fodor, 2018) can be deemed worthy of considering as the platform for spiritual growth. Overall, the present experience of the spiritual journey can be described as a continuous process of self-cognition and the attempts at connecting emotional, physical, and mental development. By directing the further analysis at one’s self and the transformation of the current interpretations of religious beliefs, one can develop a proper insight into one’s spiritual growth.

References

Feller, J., & Lombaard, C. (2018). Spiritual formation towards Pentecostal leadership as discipleship. Koers, 83(1), 1-12.

Higton, M., & Fodor, J. (2018). The Routledge companion to the practice of Christian theology. New York, NY: Routledge.

(n.d.). Web.

Mulholland, M. R., & Barton, R. H. (2016) Invitation to a journey: A roadmap for spiritual formation. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Spiritual Formation: Scrutinizing Changes and Evaluating Progress'. 17 July.

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