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Consider and Imitate

This week the blog is sponsored by Moody Publishers.

Don Taylor changed my life.

Don was my Sunday school teacher in my earliest years. Every year I graduated to the next class, and so did he. I’m not sure that he was pleased to be stuck with me again, but he made the best of it. I knew two things about him: he loved God, and he loved me. That changed everything.

My life has been shaped by people like Mr. Taylor. I’ve given a lot of thought to why they had such a powerful influence on me. The people who have influenced me most haven’t been the most gifted or charismatic. They certainly weren’t perfect. But there was something unique about them that couldn’t be denied.

Take Leila Whitcombe, an 80-something widow I met in my 20s. She seemed younger and more vibrant than I felt, even though she was sixty years older. Or George and Pat, a couple I met a couple of years ago. They’re my age, but they have an intimacy and joy I envy. Or Ray and Scotty, pastors who seem to know Jesus as their close friend. My life has been shaped by each of these individuals, and I want to be like them.

I wrote How to Grow: Applying the Gospel to ALL of Life because I wanted to learn from their examples. I began to think through a theology of spiritual growth: what true holiness looks like, how happiness and holiness are related, and why God cares about our desires, not just our behavior. But I didn’t want to write a theoretical book. I began to analyze, from Scripture and from their lives, the practical steps I could take to follow their examples.

My goal: to practice the biblical command: “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith” (Hebrews 13:17).

In short, I wanted to learn how to grow, and how to help others grow so that they enjoy God and can make an eternal difference in the lives of others. I wanted to do this for my sake, for the sake of the church I pastor, and so that others can understand how to do this too.

God uses people like Don Taylor, Leila Whitcombe, George and Pat, Ray and Scotty — and people like you and me. My prayer is that How to Grow will not only unpack the riches of the gospel, but provide a clear, practical guide to the kind of growth that will bring you joy, and help you influence others for eternity.

Find out more about How to Grow at

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