Derwin L. Gray is the founding and lead pastor of Transformation Church, a multi-ethnic, multi-generational, mission-shaped community with two campuses in South Carolina both just south of Charlotte, North Carolina. Transformation Church (TC) was recognized as the 2nd fastest-growing church by percentage in America for 2010 by Outreach magazine. In 2011 and 2012, TC was again recognized as one of the top 100 fastest-growing churches in America.
I recently noticed an article by Pastor Gray entitled, “Are You Drifting Into Danger?” He starts as follows:
Have you ever had one of those “Are you kidding me?” meetings? You know that meeting where you hear about a pastor having an affair? Or, a person who once ran a marriage ministry has walked out on their spouse? Or, the star teen who once led the youth group in high school is now an atheist?
D.R.I.F.T is “Distraction – Refusing to Repent – Intentional Disobedience – Fake Fellowship – Treasure Which is Not Jesus.” How many times have we seen new articles of someone arrested who says, “I never intended it to end this way.” Of course not. None of us set out to break the law, sin gravely or make life-altering bad decisions and, most of the time, we don’t. It’s usually the culmination of a series of smaller steps away from the Lord and along a darker path without (here’s the key!) any type of corrective action along the way.
This is not a tendency of just lay people in the world. Benedictine tradition identified one type of monk called a “sarabaite.” “They acknowledged no monastic superior, obeyed no definite rule, and disposed individually of the product of their manual labour.” St. Jerome and John Cassian both speak quite unfavorably about them.
One Benedictine reference says about them:
With no experience to guide them, no rule to try them as gold is tried in a furnace (Proverbs 27:21), they have a character as soft as lead, still loyal to the world by their actions. Without a shepherd, they pen themselves up in their own sheepfolds of their own minds and fantasy, not the Lord’s. Their law is what they like to do, whatever strikes their fancy. Anything they believe in and choose, they call holy; anything they dislike, they consider forbidden.
In the book, Move What 1,000 Churches Reveal about Spiritual Growth, authors Greg L. Hawkins and Cally Parkinson describe four phases of spiritual growth and maturity:
- Those who are exploring Christ.
- Those who are growing in Christ
- Those who are close to Christ
- Those who are Christ centered
What is interesting are the two items that believers in phase 3 and 4 consider most important: being challenged in their faith and being held accountable in their faith. Their faith practice is constantly being examined, discussed, discerned and guided by another person.
A spiritual guide/mentor/director does not have to be a priest or religious sister. It can be a spouse for friend or confidant. The women who attend “Walking With Purpose” offer another excellent model. In their small groups, they weekly and prayerfully support, encourage but challenge other women at the table in their respective prayer and spiritual lives. Finally, regular and frequent Confession – to the same priest by the way – is also an excellent method. The priest will begin to see, and can provide insights, into habitual sins and habits that he will recognize over time.
Who holds you spiritually accountable? How often do you meet with them? What topics are “on the table?” Any topics “off limits?”