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What Does it Mean to Grow?

There are many different meanings for the word “grow.” It can refer to children getting larger, to what happens when a wise financial investment is made, to what can happen to a tumor, and to many other types of change. There is another kind of multi-faceted growth that individuals experience. It is the kind that denotes progress, improvement, and positive change. Perhaps the best example of this kind of growth is exemplified in the life of Jesus Christ.

Almost everyone knows the story of how Jesus was born in a stable in Bethlehem, because there was not room in the inn. However, after the birth account, the scriptures say very little about all the years of Jesus’ life until he was about the age of 30. There is a single verse, Luke 2:52, which described what occurred during that time period. It says, “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”

This verse describes the complete cycle of intellectual, physical, emotional and spiritual growth that every person should seek. Let’s look at what is involved in these four kinds of growth which so neatly fit together to form a perfect whole.

Growth in Wisdom

Many wish to be wise, but people sometimes do not understand what that entails. Some think that having great knowledge indicates a person is wise, but wisdom is different from knowledge. Knowledge is knowing many facts. A lifetime of study can leave a scholar with many facts, but without the capacity to apply them in the best possible way. Wisdom is the ability to evaluate knowledge. It involves seeing the larger picture, including the meaning and significance of a particular situation.

A more technical definition from the Free Dictionary is, “Wisdom is the ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting; insight. Common sense; good judgment.” One could say wisdom means making the best decisions with the knowledge available. There is nothing our leaders in Washington, D.C., in our state capitals, and in our communities need as much as wisdom. The fact that so few officials demonstrate wisdom makes it even more essential that we as individual citizens do demonstrate wisdom.

Grow in Stature (physical growth / conditioning)

There have been countless resolutions broken that deal with this subject. All the promises to lose 20 pounds, start running regularly, get more sleep, and reduce the stress level that are made, but soon forgotten, are failures to properly grow in stature. The U. S. Army used to have a slogan, “Be all that you can be.” Growing in stature means physically being all you can be. Eat a proper diet; work hard, but get enough rest; when medical treatment is required, get it promptly. Physical fitness both lengthens and enhances life. It means a person is physically ready for any opportunity that presents itself. This message of the importance of physical growth is especially needed now as America is faced with the ever increasing obesity of its people. This kind of growth also means you are more likely to be physically present. Overeating and unhealthy habits cut years off of life. A good question is, “Would you rather smoke or live to see your grandchildren grow up?” A commitment to this kind of growth will probably extend your life.

Grow Spiritually (in favor with God)

Learning how to grow spiritually is a never-ending journey that relates to a person’s relationship to God. For the born-again Christian, the process involves a love for God that grows with the passage of time. Spiritual growth comes as a person follows the teachings of the scriptures. These things are easy to understand, but difficult to do on a consistent basis. Jesus has said the greatest of all commandments is to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. The second greatest commandment is to love others as you love yourself. The Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount, the letters of the Apostle Paul, the beautiful writings in Psalms and Proverbs, and all the rest of the Bible teach how to grow spiritually.

Every person, whatever their religious background is, can grow spiritually as they seek to reject evil in their lives and do that which they believe to be best. Spiritual growth is a basic foundation stone for a successful life. God loves you and wants the very best for you.

Grow in Relationships (in favor with man)

So many problems are due to faulty relationships. On the international level, at work or school, in families, especially in marriages, and almost everywhere else, there are problems and hurt because we can’t get along with each other. Prisons are filled with anti-social individuals. Divorce courts and counseling services stay busy dealing with people who have bad relationships. There is one small fact that can be an enormous help in developing better relationships. That fact is that a person can only change and be responsible for his own actions and attitudes. We cannot make decisions for other people. How does this truth work out in actual life?

Five actions that will improve your relationships:

  1. A basic relationship problem is selfishness. The individual committed to improving relationships will be willing to focus more on giving than on receiving. A willingness to give without receiving back provides a powerful incentive for change to the other person
  2. It’s true, “nobody’s perfect,” but it is also true a lot of us want to stay just like we are. Having a willingness to change is like an elixir to relationships.
  3. Perhaps the most difficult words to say in the English language are, “I was wrong, and I’m sorry.” If you can and will admit it when you are wrong, it will create peace and harmony.
  4. Most of us like to talk a lot more than we like to listen. When a person is not just ready, but is actually eager to listen, it opens the door to honest communication.
  5. The fifth way to improve relationships is basic and should be a part of every statement and action. It is be a person of integrity. Be a person that others know they can always trust.

The five guidelines discussed above on how to improve your relationships by changing yourself are not complicated. They are not difficult to accomplish if you make a commitment to these five principles and stick to that commitment.

Growth in Wealth

Throughout history debt has periodically been purged across all of society. As societies age & debt builds up it begins to tear away at the fabric of society.

At the peak of the housing bubble 80% of Citigroup’s mortgage paper was dubious & their entire board was aware of it. And, while getting bailed out, Citigroup filled the Obama Presidential Cabinet with their picks. What makes the 2008-2009 financial crisis unique is it is the first time that society collectively bailed out the criminals who almost destroyed the global economy, while passing the bad debts onto the rest of society.

Elevated debt loads, activist central bank intervention and low rates have suppressed volatility while increasing asset prices.

Those aspects coupled with a boom in passive investing make external investments more speculative than they appear.

Adding to the absurdity, even Citibank is warning against negative societal consequences of increasing income inequality – the exact outcome one would expect after banks got bailed out for writing bad loans & the recovery was driven primarily by asset price inflation. Those who had a lot of financial assets gained from the money printing. Those who did not lost from the inflation, as purchasing power was shifted from income to corporate profits & capital gains.

The four best things you can invest in are:

  • paying down debt: Americans carry over a trillion dollars in credit card debt. Carrying a credit card with a rolling balance not only costs an atrociously high interest rate, but the money is paid back using earnings from post-tax income. Each dollar saved acts as a soldier which can keep fighting to offer opportunities to earn additional money. But built up debt that is charging you interest does exactly the opposite. Mr. Money Mustache offers a lot of great advice on making the most of your savings and paying down debt.
  • your education: some people equate college and education as being one and the same, however in many cases people will get a higher economic return by gaining deep expertise in a trade which is hard to outsource (like plumbing, electrical work or welding) or by becoming an expert in a new field where there are perhaps few accredited educational opportunities available. By the time a field is standardized most of the outsized gains from it have already been extracted unless the field successfully lobbies to artificially constrain competition. And if the purchase of education comes with a high debt load that may limit the buyer’s opportunities to take outsized risks as they are required to make monthly debt payments.
  • your health: the adage “health is wealth” can seem tiring and overstated to a young person, but as you age, when health deteriorates literally nothing else matters. Eating low quality foods high in carbohydrates can cost far more in terms of latent health impacts than it saves in a lower upfront price.
  • lowering living costs: people who have a low living cost have greater flexibility in being able to try new ideas. success as an entrepreneur is typically failing over and over again until something finally works, learning from each mistake until the cumulative learning drives the insights to understand needs and market timing, allowing the entrepreneur to create enough momentum to more than offset all the headwinds they face.

Tax laws in the United States and many other countries favor long-term capital gains over ordinary income. Therefor it is easier to grow wealthy by saving an extra dollar than it is to move to a highly competitive location in a highly competitive field. People who move to whatever field is hot may earn more, but they’ll also pay a higher effective tax rate along with more income taxes.

A person can invest in bonds or the stock market while living anywhere. They do not need to live in a bubble to invest in the fastest growing parts of society. Any business owner who is confident in the future of their business should aggressively reinvest into their business when it is new to accelerate growth, as profits are taxed heavily, while companies like Amazon.com have paid little corporate tax in decades.

What This Kind of Growth Means to You

What will it mean to you personally if you experience growth that is based on growing in wisdom, physical fitness, closeness to God, and good relationships?

  1. It will mean that you are smarter, stronger, more spiritual and “cooler.”
    • smarter = wisdom
    • stronger = stature
    • more spiritual = in favor with God
    • “cooler” = in favor with man
    • wealth = ability to help others financially, or to leverage the labor of others to help do things you want to do but may not be able to
  2. It will build your self-confidence. You will feel no need to brag or boast because of the quiet confidence in your mind and heart that growth brings.
  3. It will make you a far more pleasant spouse or companion. Your family and friends will enjoy your company more.
  4. It will change and enhance many different aspects of your life. Good attitudes always bring good results.
  5.  It will result in a sense of freedom, peace, and greater joy than you have previously experienced.
  6.  It will lower stress levels in your life and help you to eliminate worry. It makes for living with quiet confidence.
  7.  It will help you concentrate on what is important and not waste your life dealing with trivial matters.

The Experience of a Wise Woman Who Experienced Great Growth in Her Life

Albert Einstein made a statement about intellectual growth that actually applies equally well to all four of the basic kinds of growth. He said, “Intellectual growth should commence at birth, and not stop until death.” There are people who have done that and give a wonderful example of what a growth-filled life is all about. Perhaps no one better exemplifies multi-faceted growth than Helen Keller.

Helen Keller was born in 1880 in Tuscumbia, Alabama. At the age of 19 months, she became ill with what doctors then called brain fever. The illness left her both blind and deaf. Helen, as a child often screamed, threw tantrums, and smashed dishes. When Helen was seven, her family employed a teacher to work with her. The teacher, Anne Sullivan, truly worked a miracle as she taught Helen to finger spell and, more importantly, how to understand the meaning of words. With Anne Sullivan’s teaching and Helen’s own intelligence, she progressed rapidly intellectually, physically, spiritually, and socially.

Helen Keller enrolled in Radcliffe College in 1900. She was the first deaf/blind person to do so. She was the author of books, toured the world, made speeches, and performed with a vaudeville troupe.

Helen Keller grew from being a rage-filled child, grabbing food from everyone’s plates, to a kind, loving person who donated great sums of money to the American Foundation for the Blind. She also worked tirelessly to improve the living and working situations that many blind people experience. Perhaps the fact of growth can be seen most clearly in some of Helen Keller’s quotes. She said:

  1. “The world is full of suffering; it is also full of overcoming it.”
  2. “The most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight, but has no vision.”
  3. “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen, nor touched … but are felt in the heart.”
  4. “When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”
  5. “Science may have found a cure for most evils; but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all – – the apathy of human beings.”

When a person wonders, “Is it possible for people to change or is multi-faceted growth really an option?” he need only look to the lives of people like Helen Keller. They demonstrate the reality of growth. While most people live more ordinary lives, without the tragedy and high drama that Helen Keller experienced, there is still plenty of room for growth and change in everyone’s life.

What Happens When You Grow in Wisdom, Stature, Spirituality, and Relationships

When you grow in this way, it is as inevitable as night following day. You will focus more of your attention on others and less on yourself. It will become natural to see people as being more important than things.

  1. You will be more prone to notice and enjoy the people you meet each day. Almost everyone’s favorite topic is themselves. Ask them about what they are most interested in, and they will be glad to talk.
  2. You will not look down on anyone, because you will recognize their worth is as great as yours. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “I have never met a man who was not my superior in some particular area.”
  3. You will be able to make friends more easily. Dale Carnegie said, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can make in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”
  4. The process of growth never is completed. You can continue to grow and strengthen your character throughout your life.
  5. If you have grown in the four basic qualities of life, the door will open for you to dream big and to accomplish your dreams.
  6. For those who are growing, there should not be a fear of failure. You will experience individual failures, but keep on trying. Keep on following your dream and giving your very best effort. It is the road to success.

How You Can Help Others Grow in Wisdom, Physical Fitness, Spirituality, and Relationships

  1. People who have children would do well to encourage their growth in these four areas. Talking with children about simple things that can encourage understanding and progress in this multi-faceted type of growth will help them learn. Providing a good example for kids is always vitally important.
  2. The good example given by an individual who has grown in all four characteristics discussed will be an incentive for other co-workers and friends to pursue this lifestyle.
  3. If someone comments to you about your lifestyle and attitudes, be willing to share with them how you are trying to live and what it has meant to you in your life.
  4. Those who have grown can benefit their country by supporting and voting for any candidates for public office who demonstrate that they too have grown.

The question arises, “If a person grows in some of the four basic areas of growth, but not in all of them, what happens?” Is that okay? While it is better to grow in some than in none, it is highly undesirable to fail to grow in all four ways. Wisdom, spiritual fitness, spiritual maturity, and good relationships are all vitally important to creating a successful, meaningful life. If a person fails to grow in all four ways, his life will always be unbalanced, like a table that does not sit firmly on all four legs. Without all four areas being developed, life will never be as happy or productive as it could be.

Go for it! You can do it! You can have that kind of balanced life.

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