“Friends don’t let friends skip leg day.” This is a common expression among those who work out. Many have seen people with muscular upper bodies paired with legs that look like toothpicks – think Gru from Despicable Me. The expression is necessary because friends don’t want to let their friends look like that. They don’t want them to merely lean into the exercises they enjoy and look unbalanced, like Gru.
While humorous, this expression has a lot of truth and is not just for physical fitness. The Apostle Paul draws the analogy when he writes in 1 Timothy 4:8 that bodily exercise has some value, but godliness is even more beneficial. If godliness is more valuable, then we should take just as much, if not more, care when pursuing it. God has given us Spiritual disciplines to pursue godliness, and unfortunately, we can take a similar unbalanced approach if we are not careful.
Don’t Just Incorporate The Disciplines You Enjoy
First, we can center and maximize the disciplines that we enjoy. Enjoying disciplines or having strengths is a good thing. God has uniquely wired each of us. Some are more academic and favor learning and theology, while others are more empathic and love serving and caring for others.
The goal is not to brush over the distinctions but to be aware that we are more than our strengths. Paul Tripp helpfully writes in his book Dangerous Calling about pastors with big theological brains but heart disease. This can be a tendency for those who desire to learn and grow but are not exercising the muscles of care and concern.
A Healthy Spiritual Fitness Plan Considers Weak Points
With this in mind, we should consider our weaknesses when pursuing spiritual disciplines. Like a bodybuilder who focuses their training on developing the lagging muscles, we can also prioritize certain areas in our spiritual life. The discipline of examining our own life can be helpful here. Look over your life, and talk to your friends who know you well. What are the areas you need to focus on? Or maybe, what are areas that you know you have been neglecting?
I once did a personality assessment for seminary. Part of the exercise was to meet with someone afterward to discuss the results. When I did, the person said, “for your personality, I will give you the acronym WAIT. Why. Am. I. Talking.” Wow, thanks a lot! Apparently, I talk a lot and need to slow down and think about the purpose of my speech. For me, silence and solitude are essential practices. I need time to be silent before the Lord, and I need to reflect on my speech and ask if it’s for my benefit or the benefit of others.
What About You?
What does your spiritual fitness plan look like? What are areas of weakness that you could work on? There are different dimensions regarding the disciplines – some are corporate, others are individual, some are focused on pouring yourself out, and others concentrate on filling yourself up. What are you lacking? Are you walking around on spiritual toothpicks, or do you have balance in your spiritual life?
Check out some previous posts on spiritual disciplines to help you think through this topic. In those posts, I draw heavily from Habits of Grace by David Mathis and Spiritual Disciplines of the Christian Life by Donald Whitney. Check out those books if you want to dive even deeper.