I have been supporting and attending our church for over 30 years. I love the fellowship and support I have received. There have been dificult times, it is to be expected, and good times. I believe one must be commited and engaged in a community of believers if they are to grow in their faith and mature in their mandate to love God and love one another. I pray I have been able to give back to others as much as I have received.
The tension I have wrestled with, as a coach the past 13 years, is the decreased time I have to spend with the body of believers I am committed to nurture and the time I am out in the community coaching high school basketball.
Can this it a sign of spiritual maturity or backsliding?
Obviously one cannot determine growth or atrophy by one aspect of a person's life. So what are the other indicators that can shed light on the subject of spiritual maturity?
George Gallup speaks of four markers from his experience polling churches through the years: "beliefs, practices, attitudes, and lifestyle. Those indicators tell you whether a person has a transforming, integrated faith or just a statement of faith. The test is in the action. The deeper one goes - from belief to lifestyle - the more obvious are the markers."
Spirituality is not a checklist you check off and say you have it or you do not. If you can quantify it then you probably process less of it than you should. You can not capture the wholeness of spirituality with a checklist. It is a matter of the heart. There may be indicators, but the reall issue is with the heart.
Spiritual maturity is an ongoing process; a journey we are on in this life which flows into the life after death. It is the matter of the heart. Has my beliefs affected my practices and attitudes in this journey? It will show or be lacking in my lifestyle. If my belief is that God has gifted me in areas that further his kingdom through coaching, then it needs to be seen in my lifestyle.
Am I becoming more like Jesus? Am I challenging or inspiring those who I coach to consider following Christ? Am I encouraging those who are believers to continue in the race? Am I doing what Jesus would do to make His Father known in my words and deeds? If I am, I am maturing in the faith. I am doing His will on earth as it is in heaven.