For nearly 25 years I have worked in quality assurance. My days are comprised of dimensional checks, product testing and, of course, composing reports. I entered the world of quality after my time in youth ministry expired. It was devastating for me that I hadn’t “cut the mustard” as a youth pastor, even though I had never been called to youth ministry specifically. I had never had a youth pastor growing up, and I really had no idea of what I was doing. And I had no one to help me along my journey. There were expectations of me, as there always are, but I was never told what those expectations were. In hindsight, it was like being told to validate a product without being told the standards it must meet.
It’s not uncommon for us Christians to just plod along randomly in life because we aren’t really sure what we’re supposed to be doing. It’s not necessarily that we don’t want to live out our days doing what God wants for us to do, but often we aren’t quite sure what that is for us specifically.
In the world of manufacturing every part that goes into a product has a blueprint; it is the standard by which it is authenticated, verifying that it meets the specific quality requirements that enable it to work as part of an assembly or sub-assembly. Then each assembly or sub-assembly has a print detailing the manner in which all of the parts are put together and interact.
God has provided us all with a set of blueprints, and the tools necessary to evaluate our walk with Him. And just like in manufacturing, there are parts, sub-assemblies and assemblies.
God does not typically expect a new believer to head straight out to the mission field as a missionary or evangelist, though there’s a point in a believer’s life when he or she is expected to share their story and faith with others. Further, God expects that we put together the pieces of our faith one by one, sub-assembly by sub-assembly until we are mature Christians.
Paul pointed this very fact out to the Corinthians. “But I, brothers could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not ready, for you are still of the flesh” (1 Corinthians 3:1-3a ESV). New Christians feed on the “milk” of the Word, the foundational teachings of the faith: Christ’s sacrificial death and resurrection, grace, forgiveness. This is the first sub-assembly of our spiritual being; it is upon these teachings that we build lives of faith, obedience and holiness.
After we begin our faith journey we should be reading God’s Word, fellowshipping with other believers and being mentored by a mature believer. These are the tools by which we authenticate our faith, measure our growth and learn to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit. Paul was a master mechanic, spiritually speaking. But he also took it upon himself to do Quality Assurance work too. As believers, it is incumbent upon ourselves to regularly evaluate our spiritual walk, and to position someone in our lives who can (and will!) give us honest assessment and feedback.
Onward to maturity!