A New Man
At the most fundamental level, the goal of spiritual vitality is being born again and knowing Christ. Then we are capable of living a unique life marked by delight. We should and will look different if we allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives by practicing true theology: spending time with Jesus and people.
Each of our actions should be motivated by the Holy Spirit. Luther said, “Anything that does not proceed from faith is sin.”
If we are possessed by Christ, delight in Him, and chase hard after Him the details of everything else will fall into place. Things may not be easy, but ministry done right is focusing on Jesus first.
Order is important. Similar to cooking by a recipe, things must be done in proper sequence. We must first be spiritually alive and filled with the Holy Spirit then we can properly pour into and serve others from the overflow.
As with all things, we can futilely try to do everything by our own power or we can submit. Then, we can be spiritually alive by focusing on Christ and serve our Master well.
The Mature Man
Similar to the way we develop spiritual vitality, by running hard after Jesus, we develop maturity. When we submit to Jesus, He will do the work of maturing us through His Gospel community.
We grow in maturity through knowledge of the Gospel. In Ephesians 4:21 Paul points to “the truth that is in Jesus.” He emphasizes truth and knowledge in contrast to error and ignorance. We grow deeper in the knowledge of the Gospel, which develops our maturity.
As we walk with Jesus and are sanctified by Him, He matures us. This essentially means that He grows us into the purpose for which we were created. Scripture tells us, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Phil 1:6 ESV) This seems to imply maturity will not be a state which we achieve fully until our journey of life is complete.
Church planters and leaders who are struggling with immaturity often fall into the behavior of trying to prove themselves and end up not leading well. We see these behaviors manifest in micro-management, manipulation, and extreme reactions to momentary circumstances.
Being open, vulnerable, and accountable in a Gospel-centered community helps us group up in maturity and find our identity in Christ.