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How Do You Know You’re Growing?


Josh Burcham


All too often we overcomplicate what it means to grow as a Christian. We find all these different markers that either make us look better than we are or worst than we are. We’ll look at what Jesus says, through Paul, are the markers of growth.

We all want to know that what we are doing is working in all areas of life, not just our spiritual lives with Jesus. We may have sat in a sermon or bible study where growth is Jesus is defined as becoming more like Jesus. But what does that mean, to be shaped into being more like Jesus? We learned through the 90s and early 2000s with the W.W.J.D. phenomenon that we really struggle to know Jesus’ character or what He would do. It left a lot of ambiguity. Let me remove that ambiguity with two different quotes one from Jesus and another from Paul.

“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” – Jesus (ESV. Matthew 4:19).

Jesus is calling His disciples to a new life and approached Simon, called Peter, and his brother Andrew to become disciples. He shares with them three important truths about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. These three truths are the foundation of the question of this article, “How do you know you’re growing?” Disciples of Jesus know Jesus and follow Jesus, they are changed by Jesus, and they are on mission with Jesus

If you are a Christian, meaning you have recognized your need for a savior and believe that Jesus was who He said He was, God, and did what He said He was going to do, be the sacrifice for your sin and conquer death. You are called to be a disciple. You are called to know and follow Jesus, be changed by Jesus, and be on mission with Jesus.

Knowing and following Jesus is about relationship and letting Jesus lead. It means that you are no longer in control. It means that you don’t take the lead anymore. It means you recognize that doing it Jesus’ way is better than doing it your way. You choose to foster relationship with Jesus and be an active participant in your growth, nothing more.

Being changed by Jesus, I think Jesus worded this statement in a very specific way. He didn’t say that you are changed by your own power, He said it was by His power you are changed. Jesus leads this process, not you. I think all too often Christians are good with faith being enough for our salvation, but that isn’t enough for our sanctification. We take the reins back and we believe it is up to us to be better Christians. It isn’t. It also doesn’t mean that you are just along for the ride, you are an active participant, just not the leader of the process. 

On mission with Jesus is where a lot of Christians get stuck. We overcomplicate this one. We all want a unique purpose so we are more important than others or feel special in some way. Who knows the real reason, but Jesus was clear what the mission was for the Church and for individual Christians.

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” – Jesus (NIV. Matthew 28:18-20).

We call it the Great Commission and the commission isn’t completed until it is reproduced in someone else. This is where hope lives and this is the mission all Christians are called to be on.

Fruit of Being in Relationship with Jesus

How do we know we are being changed by Jesus? You will sin less. Just kidding. You won’t find that in God’s recorded words. You will find what we call fruits of the Spirit. These are characteristics you will take on more and more as Jesus changes you and you let Him lead that process and you follow His lead. 

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things, there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other” – Paul (NIV. Galatians 5:22-26).

Now I think it is important to say this as well. Don’t look at this list and think of all the behaviors and mindsets you need to change, you’ll fail miserably in making these characteristics true of you. Focus on your relationship with Jesus and let Him lead the work for these to be true of you. 

How do we let Jesus lead in your sanification?

Start with Relationship.

Jesus was 100% about relationships. Relationship with God and relationship with others (Matthew 22). As a follower of Jesus, your primary role isn’t to sin less, but to be in a relationship with Jesus more. Practice Jesus Habits to foster a relationship with Jesus and nothing else.


Use Galatians As A Measurement

Galatians 5:22-23 are the fruits of the spirit, they aren’t a goal, but a by-product. As you let Jesus lead in your life and you follow that lead, you will be blown away by how much more fruit you see. Take a few moments and ask yourself, are these characteristics more true or less true of me than 6 months ago?

Take a Look at Helpful Resources.

If you don’t have a bible or don’t know where to start, download the Bible App to your smart device. They’ve got almost every translation (NIV and CSB are great easy to read translations) and lots of reading plans. If you don’t have a physical Bible we really like the Jesus Bible Journal in the NIV. So much so, that if you fill out this form I’ll send you a copy free of charge.

Helping Others Find the Full Life,