By Henry Cloud, Ph.D.
Some of the saddest scenarios that I have heard over the years as a counselor are the ones involving people who have honestly tried their best to grow in some area, or overcome some problem, and despite their best efforts, have been unable to succeed. It breaks my heart to see that happen. Sometimes, it is a necessary step of spiritual growth in and of itself, for it brings the person to the end of themselves and their own power and gets them dependent on God for the first time. Or it breaks their self-sufficiency in some other way, and that can be very helpful.
But other times, it is from a lack of knowledge and understanding of how growth takes place, or from bad teaching about how growth takes place, and as the Bible says, “my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.” (Hosea 4:6) When that takes place, it is a very sad picture, because often the people involved are really trying to overcome something in their lives and sincerely doing all that they know to do. The good news is that when they do discover what has been missing in the process, they begin to experience the growth and change that they had been looking for, and find out that God is alive and real after all.
Maybe you can identify with a time like that, or maybe you are in a time like that at present. Or, maybe you are growing and things are working, but you don’t really know why. In any case, it can be very helpful to understand the ingredients that have to be present for growth to take place, for several reasons:
• If you are stuck in some problem or pattern, you can find out the missing ingredient and begin to change the way that your are going about the process
• If you have succeeded before, you can find out why so the next time you hit a difficult time period you will know what to do
• If you are growing now, you can understand why so that you can insure that the growth continues
• If you are in the process of helping someone else to grow, you can do it right
Whatever the case, this issue is designed to help you understand the process of growth itself and the ingredients that must be present for it to work.
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