During my years serving as a Language Consultant in Asia Pacific, I was blessed with the opportunity to encourage and help guide my new co-workers on their linguistic and cultural journeys.
As part of my training, I read about a principle that amazingly played out before my eyes as learners poured blood, sweat, and tears into this quest of becoming good communicators in their new context.
The principle boils down to this: No matter the language, our brain processes and digests linguistic information in these four basic steps on the road to fluency.
First, we just try to communicate. Whatever it takes to get our point across. Little thought of grammar or structure.
Second, alerted to the fact that grammar and structure exist, we rush into using it whenever we can, mostly unaware of our errors.
Third, we speak in full linguistic form but with hesitancy, fully aware of our mistakes.
Fourth, we speak comfortably as a fluent speaker.
Here’s the takeaway. Growth often disguises itself as failure. I can’t tell you how many women I’ve sat with over the years who were sorely discouraged by their language progress, who had lost sight of how far they had come simply because they still made mistakes. This was my encouragement to them: the awareness of mistakes means you are 3/4 of the way to fluency!!
And what about spiritual growth? Paul’s challenge to the Colossians was to let their roots grow down deep. It’s not just about the growth we can SEE. He is doing a work deep inside us.
Just as mistakes are inevitable on the road to fluency, awareness of our sin is also necessary as we grow more like Christ. As God brings our sin into the light, we have opportunity to respond in faith to the fact that our sin debt has been taken care of through Christ!
“He cancelled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross.” Colossians 2:14
Though the path to growth can feel overwhelming, we can rejoice that our standing is secure!
Have you been tempted to be discouraged when a particular sin is revealed in your heart? Does it seem to keep popping up over and over again? How would your outlook change if you could start to see this as evidence of growth?