It may take only a half dozen spiritual practices to counter one of the biggest obstacles to faith and community formation, a North Carolina pastor told the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship General Assembly June 25.
The challenge for individuals seeking to grow closer to Christ is that they may be their own biggest problem, said Blake Kendrick, minister for adult discipleship at Providence Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C., during a workshop titled “Six Spiritual Practices for Forming Bold Faith.”
That issue, he explained, is that “we have become so fixated, so addicted, so enamored with our own sense of self.”
Self-centeredness is so subtle that few realize it exists and drives their choices, emotions and behaviors, he added, citing modern temptations such as technology and consumerism.
It is a troubling problem “especially for those who are committed to the ways of Jesus because the gospel of Jesus is all about serving others, the stranger, the marginalized, the powerless,” Kendrick said. Those trapped in self thus become at odds with Christ.
“We were created for so much more than this.”
Kendrick presented six spiritual practices to counter the preoccupation with self.
The first is to “be still,” taken in part from the Psalm 46 admonition to “be still and know that I am God,” he said. Today, it also means getting away from screens and noise, to “stop producing,” to speak less and detach from opinions.
Next is to “marvel,” which Kendrick described as taking time to enjoy nature, music or poetry.
“Say no” means to become better stewards of personal time, while “Say yes” means to green light those activities that focus on others to relieve suffering, restore hope and bring life, he added.
“Play” means to seeing life through the eyes of a child, which provides a “chance to enjoy the outcome of something without brandishing our will, our desire, our need to win every time,” Kendrick said. “It’s not fun to play with someone who has to win.”
The sixth practice, “give it away,” is about more than cleaning out closets or holding yard sales, he concluded. Rather, it means the giving away of the self. “The very thing that our culture elevates, saturates and manipulates is the very thing that Jesus asked us to give away.”