In Chapter 2 (“Surprised by Change”) of The Life You’ve Always Wanted, author John Ortberg describes 5 warning signs listed in the Gospel of Matthew that tell us if we’re settling for pseudo-transformation instead of the real thing:
1. Am I spiritually authentic or preoccupied with appearing to be spiritual? If we’re authentic, our spiritual talk comes from the heart and doesn’t merely reflect what we think a spiritual person should be saying.
2. Am I becoming judgmental or exclusive or proud? Pastor Ortberg states that pride has the potential to be problematic for those who take spiritual growth seriously. He adds that this is one reason God may graciously hide our own growth from your eyes. The author cites Jean Caussade, who once said that many times God’s work “is formed, grows, and is accomplished secretly in souls without their knowledge.”
3. Am I becoming more, or less, approachable? True transformation draws people to you rather than creating distance.
4. Am I growing tired of pursuing spiritual growth? Moving away from the center of spiritual life (loving God and people) is wearisome. Moving forward toward that center is energizing.
5. Am I measuring my spiritual life in superficial ways? Put another way, Pastor Ortberg asks if we’re gauging our spiritual life by our consistency in prayer or by how we’re growing in love for God and people-which, of course, prayer and Bible Study will help nurture.