No one likes to shrink. Put a shirt, or a pair of pants, in the clothes dryer and the last thing you want is shrinkage. Get your paycheck and note that it is a bit smaller than last month and you really experience how miserable shrinkage can be. How about your political party? Whether it is blue or red or green, no one likes to have fewer votes in this year’s election than they did in the last year’s election. Simply put, we do not like shrinkage. We like growth; healthy growth, in all aspects of our lives. So as springtime makes its way to Atlanta, lets talk about growing.

Now some growth can be worse than shrinkage. Weeds in the yard, inches around the waist, and clutter down in the basement to name a few. That type of growth will be discussed some other time. This month I want to discuss growth that we all really want. As I do, I want to ask you to think about what is behind our desire for growth and how we can grow in the fullest way possible.

So, let me first set the stage for the discussion. Here is my premise. I find that people like to grow in three areas:

They like to grow financially. Who doesn’t want more money? People really do want a new this or that and, in order to get it, their bank account needs to get bigger.

They like to grow intellectually. Everyone wants to know more; even if is about a reality TV show star or the neighbor next door. The Internet and CNN have stoked the flame of desire we have for more news and information about everything from cakes to cats.

Finally, people want to grow in their relationships with others. Everyone wants to have friends, feel loved and be listened to by those they like. Humans have a deep desire to belong, and to believe that others value them. Further, they do not want their relationships to become stagnant. They want their relationships to deepen over time.

Those desires for growth, I believe, come from deeper needs. Needs for security, freedom and purpose.

Money gives us a type of security doesn’t it? Scarlet O’Hara said it well when she was down and desperate, “I’ll never be hungry again!” Money is a motivator to security. Knowledge buys us freedom from deception and gives us a sense of power. The more you know, the less they can fool you. And having meaningful relationships lifts us up to the high plain of purpose in life. Friendship can be a great reward can’t it?

Now here is the problem. Money, knowledge and relationships can only take us so far. Most people will admit that money cannot fully buy security. I know you want the chance to prove that and some days so do I, but I can tell you that I know a lot of rich people who will say money is not the answer. In fact it can create insecurity.

Knowledge does not fully free us because we know deep down that we can never know it all. We will always fall short of perfect knowledge and someone will deceive us along the way. So how about relationships? No matter how staunch our friends and family are, they cannot fully fill the deep need we have for true purpose in life. There is something in us that wants more purpose then another human can give us. We need a relationship that lets us expose who we are and a relationship that receives us just as we are. We need a relationship that lifts us up in spite of ourselves.

In every one of those areas: money, knowledge and relationships, our growth eventually gets stunted and may even begin to shrink. Somehow, it seems that someone always has more then we do, knows more then we do and often has the relationships we long for, but cannot get. At the end of the day, we wind up dissatisfied and feeling empty. We don’t want that, but there does not seem to be a better way.

So, what is the solution? I suggest that you look beyond. Here is what I mean. Take a glance at people who seem to have a deeper sense of security, freedom and purpose. Look to those who have a life that transcends money, knowledge and even friends. Look beyond material wealth to things that can enrich your soul. Try expanding what you know by going beyond the rational to explore the deep mysteries of religion. When you do that, I believe you will be poised for growth.

I am not necessarily lobbying for you to start with Christianity here. I am suggesting that you ask yourself if you are truly growing in a healthy and satisfying way.
If not, I would urge you to look for some ground that could have good nutrients in it for you. Then pick up some materials that will challenge your thinking and look to associate with some people who may have a deeper understanding of security, freedom and purpose.

It won’t be easy. Growth never is. You may find that you have to test a lot of different soils before you come to one that helps you truly grow. Perhaps you will start with Religion A and end up at Religion B, or the other way around. In either direction, the questions will be the same. What will give me security? What will give me a sense of true freedom? How will I know if I have real purpose?

This is the time of year for new growth. Can I suggest you do a bit of digging and see what might spring up?

Worship Well.