How to Break Through Barriers of Personal Stagnation

By Chip Ingram

Life is dynamic. It is not static. All living things are either growing and increasing toward maturity, or deteriorating toward decay and death. So how about you — are you growing?

Are you growing toward maturity in your relationship with God, with people, and with your family?

Personal growth is normal and exciting, but it can also be difficult. It doesn’t happen without any effort. At the same time, growth can also be stymied and stagnated.

At some point in this life, we all find ourselves stuck in some area – morally, intellectually, physically, spiritually, relationally.

We are not always motivated to change and grow. Sometimes we get discouraged and feel uninspired. For others of us, we go through a time of change and we just don’t know how to cope. We need guidance.

So how do we break through those barriers of personal stagnation?

Although transformation and growth only comes from God, we can position ourselves in the right environment and apply ourselves to foster growth.

Scripture gives us several principles we can apply to our own lives to help us stay motivated and grow. Here are a few:

1. People who are moving toward growth live daily with the end in view.

As Christians, most of us have this backwards. We tend to think that our goal in life is to go to Heaven when we die. But Heaven isn’t our goal. Heaven is our destination! Our goal is to become more like Christ.

God’s goal for each one of us is to “all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:13)

God’s desire for us is to grow, increasing in maturity. He wants to take every situation, relationship, and struggle and work it together for good.

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son. (Romans 8:28-29)

2. People who are growing make a personal commitment to grow.

In a marriage relationship, we don’t decide to stick with our spouse through thick and thin before we make a commitment. Neither do we figure out if we are going to be committed after 40 years of marriage. We go for it without knowing everything that will happen.

The same is true with our commitment to grow in other areas of our lives. We don’t wait until we’re ready and mature to make the decision to grow. Growth requires commitment.

For us as Christians, God requires a personal commitment to Him in order to grow. Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)

When we sign up to follow Jesus, we make a commitment to place our trust in Him, dying to our own agenda and goals. We must trust that He will show us what to do as life happens.

3. People who are growing value process more than an event.

Many of us think that growth happens in huge spurts. We read a book, attend a seminar and our life is changed!

But that’s not the way life works. It’s the every day, nickel and dime, tiny decisions we make that that produces real growth. The secret to our future is hidden in our daily routines.

Growth starts with small steps.

Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. (Luke 16:10)

The most profound impact in my life was learning how to have a daily quiet time with God. Meeting with God every day – even if it is just for 15 minutes — has been my primary shaper of my heart, values, and relationships. Since my early days as a Christian, I’ve learned that when I don’t know what I’m going to do next in my life or even for that day, the constant is that God shows up every morning.

So how about you? Are you ready to make a commitment to grow today? I’d encourage you to take one specific step in one area of your life this week, even if it’s small.

Want to learn more about how to grow in your relationship with Jesus Christ? Browse our Small Group resources page or view our Weekday Radio Archive where you can access all of our previously aired radio broadcasts.

Written By

Chip Ingram

Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge

Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.

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