7 Things That Will Hurt Your Spiritual Growth

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

Every believer will face trials, tests and tribulations. The question is, how will we react to them under pressure? Here are 7 things that will hurt your spiritual growth.

Our Temper

Every believer will face trials, tests and tribulations. The question is how will we react to them under pressure? One guy said that he lost his temper with his wife and said something he regretted. His temper wasn’t missing. It was just hidden below the surface, like a volcano that was near eruption. A suppressed temper will, in time, erupt when something major happens. That’s when we can then do things we’ll regret. We can’t take back our actions or words, but we can seek forgiveness from God and from others when we lose our temper in front of others. We can’t “un-speak” something, but we can say, “Please forgive me.”

When unbelievers see believers lose their temper, they see nothing different in them than what they already see in the world…and perhaps, even in themselves. But when we react gracefully under pressure, the world sees that we apparently have an abiding trust in the sovereignty of God. For example, we believe, and in fact, “we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Rom 8:28). Trusting God that whatever happens must be the acceptable will of God should make us go along with the winds of the storm, and not strive to row into the wind of His sovereignty.


Anger is discontentment on steroids. It is always related to pride. Righteous indignation is a different subject because there are times when we should be angry when someone is being abused, however the “Christian” bumper sticker on the car that cuts in front of you or displays road rage should either change their bumper sticker or change their religion! James wrote that “the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God,” and so we should “put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness” (James 1:20-21).

A bad temper can destroy your spiritual growth because you’re always doing damage control by trying to apologize over and over for repeated offenses. That behavior will really destroy your Christian testimony, but it will also kill your spiritual growth. It is true that “godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Tim 6:6), but how can you learn contentment? Paul had more hard circumstances than any of us ever will, yet he said “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content” (Phil 4:11). You cannot learn to be content unless you first pass through difficulties. Those trials will give you plenty of time to practice the art of contentment. That contentment is found in the promises of God.

Forsaking the Church

Sheep who stray or wander away from the sheepfold do so at their own risk. Satan is roaming about, seeking whom he may devour (1 Pet 5:8), so which ones are the most vulnerable to attack? The ones who are separated from the flock, meaning they’re separated from the shepherd. Wolves don’t fear sheep…they fear sheep next to the shepherd. Believers are commanded to “not [be] neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Heb 10:25).

In their trials and tribulations, the solitary believer misses out on the encouragement and prayers of the Body of Christ, and misses opportunities about “how to stir up one another to love and good works” (Heb 10:24). There are nearly 100 “one another’s” or phrases of that nature in the New Testament, meaning we need one another and we are stronger together than we are alone. If “a threefold cord is not quickly broken” (Eccl 4:12b), how much more so is the visible Body of Christ, the church? The church will survive, as Jesus said, and not even the gates of hell will prevail against it (Matt 16:15-20).

Silence not Golden

The prayer life of a believer might be one of the strongest measurements of a person’s spiritual life. When we are on-fire for Christ, we’ll be often in prayer. Even so, the latest surveys indicate that prayer time is shrinking and TV time or other entertainment media’s are on the increase. More often we’re on Facebook instead of having our face in “the” Book. If our pulse in prayer continues to decline, we’ll be in utter dependence upon ourselves. No prayer may mean no access to heavenly solutions for our problems. God will see we want to be on our own, so He might leave us to ourselves for a time…and that’s bad.

Doubting God

Just think of prayer as talking to God. Tell God that you might not even know what to say to Him because it’s been so long. Be honest. Pour your heart out. Even groans and moans can be translated by the Spirit to God. We should thank God that “the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” (Rom 8:26). When you feel you’ve hit a dry well in your prayer life, pray back some of the Psalms like 23, 91, 103, and Psalm 51. Frequently, the psalmist is pouring out his heart before God, even questioning God at times, but always ending in praise to God. Reading the Bible will lessen your doubts. Not reading the Bible will increase your doubts. The exact same thing goes for prayer. The longer you go without praying, the harder it will be to start praying.

Disrespecting Others

If you’re a church member, the janitor, or the pastor, it really doesn’t matter; if you or I have no integrity, we are ruining our spiritual walk with God and wrecking our witness to the world. Not only that. We’re grieving the Spirit and quenching His work in us. Romans 13:7 commands believers give “to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.” If we lack integrity, we’re likely lacking in paying what is rightfully due someone. We disrespect someone when we talk negatively about them, especially when they’re not present to defend themselves. If we don’t respect people, who all are made in the image of God, how can we expect others to treat us with respect?


It is so hard to provide for our own needs these days, but we are called to more than taking care of ourselves. For example, “if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him” (1 John 3:17)? It would appear that it doesn’t “abide.” God commands all of us to “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Phil 2:4). We must be different from the world, for “they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ” (Phil 2:21). We seek the interests of others, especially their interest in the Savoir, Jesus Christ.


Take your own spiritual evaluation is a good thing. We’re commanded to examine ourselves to be sure we’re in the faith (2 Cor 13:5). The purpose of a spiritual self-examination is so that “you will find out that we have not failed the test” (2 Cor 13:6). Read the Word of God and it will read you; examine the Scriptures and they will examine you; go through the Word of God and it will go through you (or at least it should). I pray you’ve trusted in Christ already, for if not, God’s wrath is still abiding on you, and that ends badly for those who reject Christ (Dan 12:2-3; John 3:18b; Rev 20:12-15). Today is the acceptable time to be saved (2 Cor 6:2). Will tomorrow even come for you? Who knows? It may be too late tomorrow. Trust in Him today…right now!

Here is some related reading for you: 7 Spiritual Growth Tips

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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