It’s All About Me – Spiritual Growth Gone Wrong


Many times our lives are aimed more at ourselves than God. Even when we are approaching spiritual growth, we tend to get caught up in ourselves and what we can gain from God.

In his book The Life You’ve Always Wanted, John Ortberg provides a helpful grid for us in considering whether or not we are getting it right in our approach to spiritual growth. We shared this with our class at the “Discovering Spiritual Growth” Infusion on Saturday, October 3rd, and I thought I’d pass it along to others as a helpful self assessment tool for anyone who is interested.

1. Am I spiritually “inauthentic”?

“Inauthenticity involves a preoccupation with appearing to be spiritual” (Ortberg, p. 35).

  • Have I become preoccupied with appearances in my spiritual life? Am I trying to appear “more spiritual” than others?

2. Am I becoming judgmental or exclusive or proud?

“Pride is a potential problem for anyone who takes spiritual growth seriously. As soon as we start to pursue virtue, we begin to wonder why others aren’t as virtuous as we are” (Ortberg, p. 36).

  • Am I sitting as a judge over others or caught in the comparison trap? Am I rating people like judges at the Olympics?

3. Am I becoming more approachable, or less?

“The rabbis had the mistaken notion that their spirituality required them to distance themselves from people….Jesus was the most approachable person they had ever seen’” (Ortberg, p. 37).

  • Do people feel distanced from me because of my faith or approach to spiritual growth?

4. Am I growing weary of pursuing spiritual growth?

“Both intimidating and unchallenging at the same time….Intimidating – because it may involve thirty-nine separate rules about Sabbath keeping along. Unchallenging – because we may devote our lives to observing all the rules and yet never open the heart to love or joy” (Ortberg, p. 38).

  • Have I begun to mark spiritual growth with boundary lines that are intimidating to me, but also unchallenging for me?

5. Am I measuring my spiritual life in superficial ways?

“God’s primary assessment of our lives is not going to be measure by the number of journal entries….The real issue is what kind of people we are becoming. Practices such as reading Scripture and praying are important – not because they prove how spiritual we are – but because God can use them to lead us into life” (Ortberg, p. 39).

  • Am I more interested in the ‘spiritual’ things I’m doing than the spiritual person I’m becoming?

>> As you read these five potential pitfalls of spiritual growth, which of these are you dealing with in your own life presently?

2 thoughts on “It’s All About Me – Spiritual Growth Gone Wrong

  1. This is really helpful, Matt. Thanks for posting. Too often I am caught up in the doing of spiritual disciplines and fall into some of the pitfalls mentioned here. This is a good reminder that true spiritual transformation is about the heart.

  2. Thanks for the feedback, Kevin. When I read Ortberg’s words, I couldn’t help but get personal with them. Too often I’m doing the disciplines for all the wrong reasons!

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