Spiritual formation is an intentional, multifaceted process which promotes the transformation by which Christ is formed in us so that we can become His continually maturing disciples.
Christian spiritual formation is the journey of growing into maturity in Christ, as we are conformed to His image and live out His mission. A person’s spiritual formation affects every area of their life and ministry, think about that? Every area of life and ministry. Without the intentional pursuit of spiritual formation, you forfeit the power and presence of Christ in your life and ministry. Leadership will flow out of your power and strength, instead of His power and strength; resulting in discouragement, defeat, and possibly destruction. This is why ongoing spiritual formation is more than a competency, it must be a deliberate pursuit.
Jesus answers the scribe’s question of what is the most important commandment, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’” (Mark 12:30, ESV) This all-encompassing heart, soul, mind and strength love should be a relentless pursuit in the life of the Christian. Cultivating daily solitude as you spend time in the Word and prayer are essential for deep relational intimacy with Christ. Pursuing intimacy strengthens our identity in Christ, and guards us from finding our identity in ministry. We find confidence in our righteous position and courage for our ministry calling as we deepen our love for Christ.
We are living in a Christian culture that idolizes accumulating spiritual information, without experiencing spiritual transformation. The goal of spiritual formation is conformity to the image and mission of Christ. Christ-like transformation is a mark of maturity in the life of a believer. The core question in spiritual formation is, “are you becoming more like Christ?” The transforming work of the gospel is reflected when we talk more about Christ working in us than working through us. “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18, ESV)
Accountability could be the most talked about, but least practiced discipline in our formational journey. Cultivating dead honest, authentic, sin-confronting, grace centered accountability is extremely difficult in world of superficiality and narcissism. Growing in Christ apart from a relationship with another gospel-centered believer is contrary to the one another pattern we see in the New Testament. Sanctification happens the most when we submit to one another for the purpose of godliness as we wholeheartedly pursue obedience and holiness. The greatest times of spiritual formation in my life have occurred during seasons of authentic accountability, the greatest setbacks in my life have occurred during seasons of no authentic accountability. “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” (Colossians 3:16, ESV)
Questions to Consider
1. How would you currently describe your journey of spiritual formation? How are you taking responsibility for spiritual formation in your personal life and the life of your family?
2. You cannot love God with all your heart, if you heart belongs to someone or something else. Whatever you love the most you choose the most, the more you choose it the more you love it. What is it that you love most today?
3. Solitude is a catalyst for intimacy. Inability to cultivate solitude, manifests the rule and reign of busyness or laziness; and conveys a deep problem within your soul. What is your discipline for daily solitude in word and prayer?
4. Authentic accountably gives someone permission to adjust your self-perception and call you to be like Christ as you pursue obedience and holiness. Who do you consistently have accountability with? Do they have permission to adjust your self-perception? Do they really know you? Are you honest with one another concerning issues of obedience and holiness?
 Kenneth O. Gangel and Jim Wilhoit, The Christian Educator’s Handbook on Spiritual Formation (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1994), 16.