We're called to grow - to bear fruit for the gospel (John 15:8). And we're called to help our brothers and sisters do the same (Hebrews 10:24). But there are some great ways to ensure we duck our responsibilities ... here are just five. Maybe you can spot your tendency in the mix:
1. Stay away from church when you don't have to
The most discouraging thing you can do to your brothers and sisters is to stay away from the body of Christ deliberately. Distance yourself from people, teaching and conversations and you'll ensure you never know people well enough to pray for them intelligently, never know the sermons well enough to help people apply them consistently to their lives and never hear the struggles of others regularly and have the opportunity to step in and help.
2. Talk about God as if he's a heavenly Father Christmas
God is big, powerful, generous and kind but he's not our personal Santa. Pretending he is, however, has a massively discouraging impact on the spiritual walk of those around us. Telling people God will heal all their hurts and fulfil all their dreams in the here and now builds up false expectations and when the Lord fails to deliver on the things you have promised in his name, disappointment and doubt take root.
3. Tell others they'll never change
The best way to make sure people don't grow is to tell them they're not going to grow. Of course, there are some situations that are long-term, some health-conditions that are degenerative but there is no such thing as a set of circumstances that can prevent genuine heart change. In fact, every time we make a decision and every time we make a statement about God, ourselves and the world around us, we do change - either to become more like Jesus or to become more hard-hearted. The lie that we cannot change - often hidden under the guise of encouraging perseverance - promotes instant inertia in the name of the Lord.
4. Keep your own struggles hidden
Keeping your own sins and struggles under wraps is a good way to ensure that no-one can use you as a godly role-model. Keeping the process of change hidden and giving the impression that it's possible to live a godly life without the need for continued repentance and grace easily persuades people that it's possible to live life without humble reliance on the cross. Legalism will abound and lives will crash and burn as you encourage others to emulate the fake you and live in their own strength not Christ's.
5. Never open the Bible with anyone
This is an easy one to achieve: simply leave your Bible in a drawer and you'll never open it with a friend - guaranteed! Then every word you utter - no matter how faithful - won't be seen to come from God. It's a great way to encourage people to become reliant on you rather than Jesus. And that's a sure fire way to ensure they don't flourish.