This year I worked with Matt Pamplin and Brent Schinkel to come up with a list of ideas on how to grow in each of the four loves. Loving God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength demands that we grow in our root type, but then also demands that we learn to love God through the other types that don’t come naturally to us. However, it can be hard to think of ways to grow beyond our root type precisely because we tend to gravitate towards activities that come naturally to us. This list has been created in order to provide some suggestions on how to stretch ourselves beyond what comes naturally to us, so that we can learn to love and experience God more deeply and holistically.
-Have a conversation with someone about their spiritual journey, and really listen.
-Spend some time goal setting and dreaming about your future. Ask God to give you a “sanctified imagination” that dreams big and is caught up in what is possible in Him. Cultivate a sense of “what could be” if God really got a hold of your life and heart. Allow what comes to mind inspire and excite you.
-Set aside some time once a month to connect with a formal/informal mentor.
-Write an email or letter of encouragement to someone.
-Invite a friend or someone from church over for lunch/dinner and spent time getting to know they and their story.
-Set aside time to connect with your spouse/child/a friend and do something FUN together.
-Write poetry/music that speaks to the current state of your heart before God.
-Spend time in silence, in reflection, in meditation. Use worship music if sitting in silence is too difficult for you.
-Taize style of worship (check it out: www.taize.fr ).
-Make a prayer list of people in your life that you want to pray for everyday. Each day spend 10 minutes prayer through your list.
-Silent walk through creation focusing on your surroundings.
-Journal. Journal about anything. Try reflecting on dominant themes, images, impressions, etc., God seems to be putting before you again and again.
-Disciplines of abstinence (giving up something for a set time). Give up the TV, texting, junk food, lattes, video games, etc., for a week. This forces you to confront habits and impulses that aren’t healthy and tend to numb the soul. It will also strengthen your appreciation of the good things God has give you.
-Spend time in prayer asking God for what you want (James 1:5-8).
-Read a book that challenges you intellectually. We recommend: The Cost of Discipleship by Deitrich Bonhoffer, Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, The Reason for God by Timothy Keller, Simply Christian by N.T. Wright.
-Take a course at a local college or university. Regardless of the subject you’re studying, how does the knowledge you’re taking in expand your view of God’s greatness and goodness?
-Sunday at church, take detailed notes and the discuss and debate the message with a friend.
-Memorize scripture (large or small chunks).
-Subscribe to a podcast and listen to it during the week. We recommend “The Meeting House” (Bruxy Cavey), “Mars Hill Church” (Rob Bell), and “Redeemer Presbyterian Church” (Timothy Keller), all available through iTunes.
-Begin a “Discipleship Journal” where you record the “big ideas,” Scriptures and teachings that have impacted you.
-Host a learning party. Pick a theological question or issue, ask everyone attending to investigate the topic on their own, and then come together over good food and drink to discuss any insights, frustrations, questions, etc.
-Watch a movie, and then set aside time to reflect on the themes and issues raised in it. Discuss with a friend or group how a Christian should approach these issues.
-Do one (small) thing to help a housemate/friend/family member that they’ll never notice or be able to thank you for.
-Take a spiritual gifts inventory that can help you identify how God has gifted you to impact others. Google “spiritual gifts inventory online” for a number of free sites that offer questionnaires to get you started.
-Buy a friend/pastor/church volunteer/stranger a coffee or tea.
-Volunteer within your church.
-Volunteer within your community.
-Begin giving regularly and sacrificially to the church you’re a part of.
-Exercise. Whether you’re walking, hitting the gym, running, trying out yoga, etc., exercise is an important component of honouring God with our bodies (1 Corinthians 6:20).
-Cut out all junk food for one week and note any alterations in your mood this leads to.
-Sponsor a child through World Vision or Compassion International and write letters to your sponsored child.
-Be disciplined to go to bed on time. The better rested we are, the more energy we have through which to love and bless others.
Do you have more ideas we can add to this list? Share them below!