Bloom in the Right Climate

I grew up in Southeast Texas, where azaleas bloom in abundance. My husband has enjoyed only limited success with them here in North Texas because of harsher winters. The record snow and ice and consecutive days of below-freezing temperatures in 2011 resulted in near death to those in our yard. With sadness we replaced them with other plants that thrive here.

If you find yourself struggling as a believer, consider whether you are in the right climate to bloom. Look at these factors for your present community (not just your church but your go-to friends):

  • Do you feel free to share your sins and failures because you are given grace?
  • Are you encouraged to obey and follow God even when it’s hard, rather than take sin lightly?
  • Are you strengthened by God’s Word?
  • Are you sharpened by those who will speak the truth in love?
  • Are you uplifted by supportive prayer?
  • Are there others whose walk with God is a constant encouragement and challenge to you?

Unhealthy environments can result in spiritual decline and near death. If we are to be salt and light in the world, ingrown Christian fellowship isn’t the answer and can even be part of the problem. We may blame the culture when the real problem is under our own control. We must seek out communities of openness, confession, support, and love if we want to produce beautiful flowers.

I have been blessed to enjoy healthy climates where other believers accept and support me despite my failures and sins. But there was a time when I disassociated myself from such communities and thought I could go it alone. In time my faith was more dead than alive. But God in his grace reawakened the spark of real life, and the Christian atmosphere that I began to breathe encouraged me to bloom.

To bloom so that our world sees Christ in us requires us to escape unwholesome Christian climates. That doesn’t mean that we disassociate ourselves from those who need our positive influence. Instead of abandoning them, we must intentionally offset the negative with places of affirmation, encouragement, unconditional love, fervent faith, and right priorities.

Courageously seek out the right climate to produce lovely flowers, and encourage others there to bloom as well. How have you found a healthy climate?

This article was originally posted on Kay's late blog Beyond on 4/21/11.

Kay is a life-long Texan whose favorites are Tex-Mex, books that feed her soul or make her think, good movies and travel to new places. Her great joy is to serve God by teaching the Bible and developing women as servant-leaders. She is the Founder and Executive Director of Beyond Ordinary Women Ministries, which provides free videos, podcasts and articles as well as low-cost Bible studies to prepare Christian women for leadership. (beyondordinarywomen.org) Kay spent ten years leading women’s ministries on church staffs, most recently at Northwest Bible Church in Dallas. Kay is the author of From Ordinary Woman to Spiritual Leader: Grow your Influence, a practical guide to help Christian women influence others by applying foundational leadership skills to their lives and ministries, and a number of Bible studies for women, some are available at bible.org and the newer ones are found at beyondordinarywomen.org. Kay earned an M.A.C.E. from Dallas Theological Seminary and a D.Min. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Effective Ministries to Women. Kay’s family includes a husband, two grown children, one son-in-law, two hysterical granddaughters and a Goldendoodle.