Spiritual Formation V: The Critical Journey, pt. 4

Posted: May 15, 2013 in Discipleship, Spiritual Formation, Spiritual Growth
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The Critical Journey: Stages in the Life of Faith, by Janet Hagberg and Robert Guelich. Salem, WI: Sheffield Publishing Co. 2004. 268 pp.

Instead of a traditional book review of The Critical Journey, I wanted to share a personal life journey, structurally connected to this book. I would strongly encourage you to get and read the book, but perhaps sharing my own journey will resonate with you in your own growth. Drs. Hagberg and Guelich talk about 6 stages in the journey of spiritual development. My review went pretty long, so I divided it up into sections. Numbers in parentheses refer to page numbers from the second edition.

Spiritual Formation II: The Critical Journey, part 1

Spiritual Formation II: The Critical Journey, part 2

Spiritual Formation III: The Wall

Stage 5 The Journey Outward

I think this is my home stage now. The characteristics of this stage on pages 133-141 seem to describe what I am experiencing now. “We are aware of our faults and have a fresh desire to be in God’s will rather than our own.” (133) “We sense a looser grip on ourselves and a willingness to be conduits for God’s work in our lives and others’ lives.” (133) I have a “renewed sense of God’s acceptance,” (134) and I think some of the people in our church see me as a “weaker” leader than before. However, I honestly don’t care. Not that I don’t care about them – I care more than before – but I don’t really mind if they think I am weaker. Hagberg refers to this on page 135, but expands on it in 138-140. I actually am surprised lately that, although I am still busy, I don’t feel frustrated when someone asks for help. Such requests used to anger me – I wasn’t being productive then. Now, I honestly don’t mind saying – sure, I’ll help. Even writing that sounds proud, though. Oh, well. It’s the way it is, now.

Stage 6 The Life of Love

Although stages five and six are very similar, I haven’t lost that sense of “self.” On page 152, that selflessness is mentioned as one of the primary characteristics of stage six. I’m not there, at least not yet. I also don’t think I have “God’s overflowing love,” (155) yet. I think maybe I’m beginning to understand what that might look like, but I’m not in a hurry to get there. I don’t think it’s because of fear of losing myself, or because of pride – although it might be. I think it is more because right now, at stage five, I am content, and patient with God leading me on.

Biblical Self-Image

My self-image has gone through a number of growth areas. Although at one time, it was based on unbiblical values, I think it is now more based on what I believe God sees. For some time, the fact that I finished school early, and was able to accomplish certain things, made me think I was better somehow than other people. However, I seldom was as diligent or committed, just naturally gifted. Now, though, although I think I am more committed and diligent than I used to be, it doesn’t necessarily equate with more activity and busyness. I’m more content to spend time with God, or just to sit and think. I do still need to work through the area of connecting my self-image with what others think of me. I have seen growth, but I still fall into the trap of feeling bad about myself when I get criticized.

Relationship with the Church

Although there have been disappointments over the years, I don’t think my relationship with the church is unhealthy, or discouraging. I didn’t really connect our crisis with my mentor with the church, nor did the way in which our local church was castigated by other local churches in America make me think less highly of the church in general. Local churches are people – beautiful, wart-filled images of God.

Personal Relationships

I can see a number of ways I have grown, but still many areas where I need to grow. In my marriage, I am definitely more selfless than I once was – but there is still a lot of room for growth! There was a time when I would avoid helping my wife with her tasks. My rationale was that I was busy, too, and that was her job. This year, though, I had an opportunity to serve her, when she couldn’t do most of those things. I was able to, willingly, but I couldn’t honestly say I long for the next chance! 🙂


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