Knowledge does not equate spiritual maturity.
This may be obvious and I think most people reading this would agree with this statement, but there is nuance needed here. Knowledge can be used by God to bring about spiritual maturity and I would argue that this is an important part of discipleship (see Eph. 1 and Col. 3). Nevertheless, knowledge in and of itself does not equate spiritual maturity. Sometimes it hinders the believer. In seminary, I’ve experienced this first hand with myself and others. We all need brothers and sisters who love us to call us out when this false spiritual formula manifests.
I mean, I don’t know how to talk about the necessity of prayer in the life of a disciple in a paragraph—the magnitude of the action, the outlandishness of prayer, the communion with God. It’s heavy, it’s crazy, yet it’s simple. Really, it comes down to this: Do you actually believe that you need God to act in your life? Often, my answer has been a subconscious no. I’m good at fooling myself into believing in my own self-sufficiency. That’s terrifying. That’s why we need to pray.
It’s ok not to be ok.
I can say that I started seminary thinking the opposite—If I wasn’t ok, then something was wrong with me. I either didn’t have enough faith or I was caught in some sin that I didn’t realize or I was just messed up. Interestingly, the way seminary taught me this truth was by forcing me to actually sit down and read the Bible. If you do this, you’ll find out that it’s ok not to be ok. There’s this whole genre of scripture called “lament.” God meets us in darkness. If you’re there now, it’s ok. God’s with you. Your worth isn’t determined by how you feel about yourself. It’s determined by how God feels about you. And guess what? He loves you. He’s dying for you to know that.
Participate in a local church.
This one is more important than the other three because the other three are meant to occur in the context of a local church. Pretty simply, if you are believer in Jesus and not a part of a local body of believers your spiritual life will suffer and the local church will suffer. I realize this is blunt and a sensitive topic, but it’s true. If you believe in Jesus you have been united to Him by the Spirit and are therefore a member of His body—the Church. You have been given gifts by God to help the others in the body of Christ. Just like a physical body, some of you are hands or ears or eyes in Christ’s body. Just as a hand receives life from the body, the hand also helps the body live. But, if the hand is not attached to the body, it shrivels and dies, and the whole body suffers without a hand. The same is true with you and the body of Christ. You need the local church and God has ordained that the local church needs you.