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Baby Steps

Because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying “Abba! Father!” Galatians 4:6

Baby Steps.  If you know the movie What About Bob, you can instantly picture Bill Murray’s character taking steps around his psychiatrist’s office, calming all of his phobias by literally taking “baby steps.” Instead of worrying about the fears of the big picture, simply focus on your next “baby step” and you’ll be ok. That’s the plan.

Is spiritual growth, or any type of growth, that simple? Or is there more to it?

I would say, “Yes.” and “Yes.”

Here’s how I see it. I often fail to make progress—on anything from a home project to a work or personal goal when I’m too idealistic and too aspirational. I can get so caught up in describing the planning process, that I’m slow to actually get to the work itself. And when I do, I can be so worn out by the process that I don’t have much gas left for implementation. I doubt that I’m alone in this battle with my good intentions. Maybe if I spent less time thinking about the work and more time doing the “baby steps” of actual work I’d make more progress. 

There’s some good practical wisdom in this thinking, of course. Whether you’re building a house, trying to get in better shape, or learn more about Jesus, there’s simply no replacement for taking small steps every day. 

There’s more to it, though. What is your motivation? Why do you want to take the step in the first place? 

Here’s the difference for a follower of Jesus. The Holy Spirit reminds you of your Why.

We live in a culture dominated by identity and performance. Everything we do is measured and evaluated, which is not bad in and of itself. Successful organizations set goals and evaluate progress. Healthy families have budgets and track expenses. In the early church, for instance, we see the creation of a system and an org chart to handle care for the widows. The Twelve received feedback that a need was not being met, and they came up with a plan to fix the problem. The paragraph in the book of Acts most likely summarizes a process that took days to figure out and execute.

The problem with counting things is not with counting things. It’s with making those things count more than anything else. When what you count becomes who you are, you’ve got problems. Here’s how it can work. If you’re in sales and you hit your numbers for the month, you have worth as an individual. If enough people liked our family picture posted on Facebook, then the party was meaningful. The converse, of course, is also true. If you are what the numbers say you are, then who are you when they say, “You’re not enough”? 

The Holy Spirit says that your fundamental identity is received, not achieved. The Holy Spirit is your counselor, your advocate, your helper. The Holy Spirit reminds you that you are not alone, that you are more than the sum total of your performance indicators, that you don’t have to carry the weight of creating your own identity. You don’t have to. God has already has given you the name that matters most: child of God.

When you begin to understand that, then it’s easier to take and keep taking baby steps. The Holy Spirit, after all, reminds us that we have a Heavenly Father who will pick us up when we fall and give us what we need as we stumble.

For Reflection

Why do you want to take steps of growth?

For Prayer

Father, help me to take my next right step toward You.

For More

Read Galatians 4:1-7