"... God gives the growth" (1 Cor. 3:7).
We can't pull ourselves up my spiritual bootstraps, or stretch into maturity of our own accord.
Someone planted, many people watered, but it is always the Lord giving the increase.
Oh, how I have desired to reach maturity, and the place in God's Kingdom that it merits, but He gives the growth. And He may never choose to grow me as much or in the manner that He grew Amy Carmichael, Elisabeth Elliot, or my own dear mother. He has a unique pattern of growth set for each of us, but no new formula.
"Blessed is the man (or woman)
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of the scoffers;
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on His law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers" (Psalm 1:1-3).
The man or woman whom God is growing ought not, in any way, be made unclean by the unplanted - the wicked. He ought not listen to their advice, spend time in the places they frequent, or be established among them in any way that might confuse him as one of them.
But what ought he do?
There is no list of commands, no inventory of possible vocational ministries to choose from. There is one thing.
Delight in the law of the Lord; meditate on it day and night. Love the Lord and His Word; keep them always before your face.
And God will give the growth.
And it will be great growth - fruit-bearing growth. It must be, if God gives it. It will occur naturally, as an overflow of growing, not as a striving or stretching into it.
"For as the earth brings forth its sprouts,
and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up,
So the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise
to sprout up before all the nations" (Isaiah 61:11).
This is our fruit. Righteousness and praise. The results of delight and constant meditation on the law of the Lord. And He will place our fruit strategically where all nations can witness it.
"... that [we] may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified" (Isaiah 61:3c).
And it's all for His glory. He gives growth and produces fruit all for His own glory.
May He make us humble seeds, humble sprouts, and one day, humble giant oaks that bow their faces low before the One who grew them.