Train Yourself to be Godly

Karen Bables

READ : 1 Timothy 3:14-4:16

Exercise daily in God—no spiritual flabbiness. . . ! (v. 8 The Message)

In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell reports that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field. Baseball players, violinists, computer programmers, and inventors all need to spend hours at their craft. They need dedication, determination, and discipline. The same is true if we are to be spiritually formed. Intellectual assent to a belief system is necessary, but we need more.

This series of devotionals focuses on M. Robert Mulholland’s definition of spiritual formation as shaped by James Bryan Smith (see yesterday’s devotional). Today we take up the idea that growing spiritually is a process. A process is “a systematic series of actions directed to some end.” Eugene Peterson describes the spiritual formation process as “a long obedience in the same direction.” We are on a lifelong journey in the kingdom of God now and yet to come.

In this passage, Paul described Timothy’s process of spiritual formation. He had been “raised on the Message of the faith” and had “followed sound teaching”; he was to “exercise daily in God” for a “disciplined life.” He was to “teach” believers with his life: by word, by demeanor, by love, by faith, by integrity. He was to “cultivate” his gift of leadership. He was not to be “diverted,” but “just keep at it.” Paul gave Timothy what Dallas Willard called “VIM”—a vision for his life, a call to intentionality, and the means to carry out the vision. This is our mandate as well.


Lord, help me to grow.