Me & My Behavior Problems

“My spiritual development won’t result from driven behavior.  It will only come from careful listening, quiet surrender, and active and purposeful engagement.”

From Dare to Journey with Henri  Nouwen by Charles Ringma

If you know me well, you know the first statement of that quote rattles me.

Driven behavior – I’m pretty sure my name is next to that phrase if you Google it. 🙂

Everything about spiritual development as defined by this statement is a challenge for me.

Careful listening – I wish I was better…

Quiet surrender – Surrender is kind of the opposite of control, right?  Yeah, that’s a problem too.

Active and purposeful engagement – Well, there’s a little more hope for me with this one.

Sometimes spiritual development is such a mystery to me.  It’s so difficult to measure.  It’s slow.  It’s ongoing.  It’s always changing.  There is no formula.  No ten step process to follow.  It’s organic.  It’s different for every one of us.

It’s active and purposeful engagement with your Savior and Creator.

What’s the greatest challenge to your spiritual development?  Is there a part of your personality that always gets in the way?

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  • Jessica May 12, 2009  

    We are so much alike its crazy!

    Mine is, I have no clue how to grow?! I feel like I try but get nowhere.

  • jan owen May 13, 2009  

    I’ve discovered that one of the biggest hindrances for me is that I am a verbal processor so if I get stressed it’s relieved by discussion. Sometimes, though, I think God just wants me to tape my mouth shut and BE QUIET and only rely on Him. To shut my mouth and to open it only to Him in prayer is my biggest challenge. My extreme sensitivity is both helpful and distracting as well. (just like that “drivenness” that helps you get things done)

    The other thing that I KNOW I need but can’t figure out how to do enough is more lengthy times of solitude.

  • Justin May 13, 2009  

    What if God wanted to leverage your drive, your control and your engagement to spur your spiritual growth? Maybe he isn’t asking you to die to those things more than he is asking you to wake up to them for the purpose of molding and shaping your heart to be more like His? These attributes are usually used to allow us to gain a sense of accomplishment…maybe they can also be used to accomplish santification? (This isn’t a thus sayeth the Lord thing, but I think we defeat ourselves in our spiritual growth because we think that God has to break down our strengths and make us strong in things we suck at…I’m not sure that is His agenda)

    The listening one…you’re on your own on that one 🙂

  • Melissa Irwin May 13, 2009  

    I love Justin’s first sentence/question. I think this is so true.

    I used to be incredibly efficient, detailed, organized, punctual, thorough, and clean. I always advanced and was even always praised for my attributes. I found pride in those things and even always assumed that I would be that way. I found safety in my great qualities. I’ll be honest…. these days, I lose things, I’m often 5 minutes late, and unless there are deadlines involved, I’m not as efficient as I once was. I really believe God allowed the breakdown of the qualities that made me good on earth, and replaced them with qualities that posture me more toward Him and His kingdom. I believe He allowed the breakdown because I prided myself too much on what I had going on, and failed on a regular basis to give Him credit.

    I was driven because I had a lot to prove and to overcome. So what Justin said is true for me, God broke down my strengths and made me stronger in the things I sucked at. Now, I am much more compassionate and giving…… 2 things I didn’t even care about before. Now I don’t care (as much) about drive, ambition, recognition, popularity, etc. My house is a mess. My bills are in separte piles around the house. I’m not the top selling agent in my firm and I don’t even own any cute shoes. But my heart for Jesus is much healthier than it ever was.

    Wow, I didn’t not mean to type so much. It was good therapy for me, though! 🙂

  • Melissa Irwin May 13, 2009  

    I didn’t even answer the question….. Ha! I still struggle with pride in some areas…and that def. gets in the way.

  • kristiapplesauce May 13, 2009  

    Laziness and time management. I am all over the place and when I do make the time to surrender or my mind is in the groove I lack the motivation to give my all. You really challenged me here, thank you.

  • krametorg May 13, 2009  

    Nice Blog Jenni. Just my 2 cents, I don’t think Spiritual development is such a mystery. It certainly shouldn’t be. The problem I see is that the church does nothing to really teach it. We listen and listen and listen in the church in meeting after meeting. What are we producing? Hearers of the Word not doers. We need to learn the basics of hearning God and then via obedience, God truly becomes Lord over our lives and has free reign to direct our movements, prioritize our work and so on. I blog at if you want to check out my thoughts on the subject of spirituality. Blessings and thanks for sharing. You’re quite impressive!

  • becky May 13, 2009  

    I always get in the way….or try…seems to be becoming somewhat easier to believe He is doing a work in me….I hope anyway, remember I always get in the way.

  • Jenni Catron May 13, 2009  

    @krametorg – Your point is well taken. I think there is a huge component to our spiritual growth that requires action. I grow when I lead a small group, oftentimes more than if I just participate in one. I see my heart soften and become more Christ-like when I serve others and give more freely. When I say that it’s a mystery to me it’s because sometimes I feel like the greatest growth occurs when I wasn’t planning it or trying to create it.

  • mandythompson May 14, 2009  

    That’s one heck of a quote, Jenni… But it’s a keeper. Nouwen knows his stuff. We have a spiritual formation class on campus that doesn’t go nearly as deeply as his one sentence!

    Thank you for sharing it. And for sharing how you’ve assessed your own life with his thoughts in mind.