Developing Christian Character

How Do People Grow and Develop Character?

What is Spiritual Formation?

Spiritual Formation is the process of developing the character (life skills) and competencies (ministry skills) of Christ in a believer’s life.

What is the Goal of Spiritual Formation?

  • Romans 8:29, For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;
  • Galatians 4:19, my little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you!
  • 1 John 2:6, “the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.”
  • 1 Peter 2:21, “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps,”
  • 1 Cor. 11:1, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.”
  • Colossians 1:28-29, We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. 29 For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:23, Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Why is Spiritual Formation (Character Development) so Important in the Church?

There is a character crisis in the church that has led to a leadership vacuum.

  • “If a leader demonstrates competency, genuine concern for others, and admirable character, people will follow.” — T. Richard Chase
  • “T. Richard Chase distills the basic components that followers look for in a leader. Are they competent? Do they really care for people? Do they possess strong character? Everything else is icing on the cake. Followers can endure a wide spectrum of differences in their leaders, but these three elements are non-negotiable.” — John C. Maxwell
  • “An important question for leaders: ‘Am I building people, or building my dream and using people to do it?”‘ — John C. Maxwell
  • Our goal isn’t to build a big church — but to build big people. If we invest in people, and develop them into mission-driven people, we will see our dream for the church accomplished. People quickly ascertain whether we are building them or using them.”— Jack Hayford
  • It’s not enough to just get the job done, but we must become more like Christ in the process.

It’s important that our competence (ministry skills) doesn’t surpass our character (life skills).

Character Competence

What happens when our competence exceeds our character? What do we call the difference? (A disaster, a crisis, a fall from grace, bad ink. The world looks on and says the church is full of hypocrites).

Character is a non-negotiable in ministry. The Apostle Paul put it this way – ‘giving no cause for offense in anything, so that the ministry will not be discredited“— 2 Corinthians 6:3 cp. “above reproach” (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:7)

[Based on my classes with Richard D. Leineweber, Jr. c. 2000]

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