Throughout my career in the staffing and consulting businesses, I have worked with more than 60,000 people – assisting many of them with job searches and finding new employment. And as I went through seminary and worked on my doctorate, I actually created curriculum for providing encouragement and a plan to implement career changes for people who were in transition. Since my post graduate studies have been completed, I have continued to operate in both the corporate and ministry worlds. Much of my focus has been has still been on assisting folks but as I get older, it occurs to me just how much I have seen.
I frequently get contacted by people I helped more than 20 years ago – many times, even 35 years ago when I was just getting started here in Indiana. I have watched administrative assistants eventually become presidents of institutions and newly minted engineers become vice-presidents of biotech firms. Of course, none of these advancements happened overnight, but through diligent work and commitment to learn and grow, it is amazing to witness, from a front row seat, just how far some people can rise. I could go on and on about all the success stories I have seen at every level of the corporate world. It has been very rewarding to know that in some small way, I was involved in a small chapter of their ascension in the corporate world.
On a similar note, closer to home, I have watched our three kids grow from young, naive children learning their alphabet into leaders in their own right. Two of our children are in the corporate workplace and one of our daughters is on staff at a church – guiding and leading children – our next generation of leaders. We are proud of all of three of them for what they have accomplished.
But what really got me thinking about all that I have seen was prompted by our nephew’s 45th birthday yesterday. Now most of you know that Janet and I have known each other since we were very little kids, but when Janet and I started dating at the age of 18, our oldest nephew, John, was born. I remember the day well and as John started to grow, Janet and I even would babysit for him so Debbie and Randy, Janet’s sister and brother-in-law could go out on occasion. The summer after John turned one year old, Janet and I were married.
I have had 45 years to watch John grow. He has matured from that helpless little boy into a fine man. He is a husband, father, responsible member of society and someone who professes a belief in God and tries to be a model of behavior for others. Sometimes, I think he is enough like me that he could fit right into our family. We both have a love of gadgets, science fiction, certain kinds of food – and we both have what I call “intellectual curiosity” – a desire to know how and why things work… He’s a compassionate man – similar to our own son, Andrew. So, as you can see, I sit here this evening and recall all the growth that I have seen – both in our own children and in John. Of course, we have other nieces and nephews as well, but John was the first child of the next generation and goes all the way back to when Janet and I started dating! And let’s not forget all the wonderful people I have watched grow in the corporate world. It has been a real blessing to see their progress.
But growth in these areas is not enough. God expects us to grow spiritually, even more than we grow in the “normal” way that we tend to identify with success. Our verse for this evening speaks to what the apostle Peter had to say on the subject of spiritual growth. He gives us the roadmap for growth in this most important area of our lives. We are encouraged to keep focused on Jesus – and that’s great advise. And that we are to crave growth – in fact, Paul says something very similar in his letter to the Corinthians and the author of Hebrews also mentions “milk” and spiritual growth. As you can see, the theme runs through the New Testament. We are told by Peter, in 1 Peter 2:1, “Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him — you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
My encouragement this evening is that God wants us to learn to drink milk as spiritual infants and eventually graduate to solid food – maturing in our faith and becoming more Christlike in the process. My prayer is that you will put effort into growing your faith in Jesus so that you can progress in your spiritual life the same way you have, hopefully, grown in your career and your family life as you have matured. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…