The Power of Growth
Written by Cody Nygard, Director of Discipleship and Connection
There are two common mindsets most people operate within: the static, or maintain mindset; and the dynamic, or growth mindset. It is not hard to see how these two ways of thinking influence the trajectory of an individual or a community.
The maintain mindset emphasizes “being good,” keeping an even keel, not rocking the boat or making waves, but holding to past glories and present standards. There are plenty of times when a maintain mindset is useful, in a low-resource situation, for example. A “be good” mindset tends to be emphasized in much of Christian theology. We think of salvation as an event that happened in the past, the possession of which ensures that we will receive a reward in the end. We are declared justified, thus salvation is all said and done and there’s nothing more to attain.
However, there has always been a thread of transformation running through our theology as well, in which grace is not simply declared, but is more like a seed planted in the fertile soil of our souls, working, growing, and changing us in the process. It is in the growth mindset that real transformation happens. Instead of emphasizing “being good,” the growth mindset looks toward “getting better.” We must not think that this work is all ours to do, for it is our cooperation with the grace of God at work within us that leads to personal and communal transformation.
As anyone who has experience in gardening or farming knows well, growth has power. We’ve all seen those old streets in our city where trees planted fifty years ago now lift up concrete and steel with their enormous roots. But transformational growth is not immediate; it is the power of a running river, not a volcanic explosion. It shapes us and our communities by degrees, molding our attitudes, relationships, and ways of thinking to better fit the embrace of God. Growth may happen slowly, but rest assured that it is indeed happening. To participate in our own growth we must be conscious of this work of grace. We must open our eyes to see the ways in which we are simply maintaining the status quo instead of pushing ourselves, and our communities, to “get better.” By identifying God’s grace at work in and all around us, we can align ourselves with God and be a part of the progressive flow of the Kingdom.
Our church community is in a time of growth and change now. We have the opportunity to examine ourselves and our ways of thinking, to ask “Are we simply maintaining, or are we willing to grow?” I feel the workings of deep roots awakening in the ground beneath the foundations of our congregation, and I am excited about the prospect of where God might lead us together. Growing pains tend to accompany growth, and no one is surprised that the old adage “no pain, no gain” is as true for spiritual matters as it is for physical matters. But keep in mind the end goal: you are called to become who you are in Christ. You have a higher vocation than “being good”; you are called to always be “getting better.” Friends, let us come up higher, together!