When our son David was eleven years old, I took him on a twelve-mile hike. It was a wonderful father-and-son adventure — till we headed down and got lost on the backside of the mountain.
We were alone, with no map and no cell service. We’d eaten all our food, and it was getting dark and cold. We were scared, and I was beating myself up about not being better prepared.
But I kept praying to God for help. About an hour later, we heard the voices of two hikers who had a map and guided us down the mountain!
At times we all need a map with a big red star that says “You are here!”
Drawing from decades of study and over seventy thousand hours of providing therapy and spiritual direction, my wife, Kristi, and I developed the CHRIST stages of faith. This model emphasizes following Jesus in a journey of increasing emotional and spiritual health.
In our new book, Journey of the Soul, we give you a map for your journey:
- Confidence in Christ (the C Stage)
Following Jesus Christ begins with receiving His forgiveness and new life (e..g., 1 Peter 1:3-4).
- Help in Discipleship (the H Stage)
We grow in community with Christ-followers and by practicing spiritual disciplines (e.g., John 8:31-32).
- Responsibilities in Ministry (the R Stage)
We grow when we use our gifts to serve God and bless people (e.g., Romans 12:4-8).
- The Wall (Transition)
Spiritual dryness or getting stuck is a hidden opportunity for deeper growth and joy (e.g., Isaiah 43:19).
- Inner Journey (the I Stage)
We experience spiritual renewal through empathy, emotional growth, and longing for God (e.g., Psalm 139:23-24).
- Spirit-Led Ministry (the S Stage)
Our greatest joy and impact is to act with the presence and power of the Spirit to serve others (e.g., Matthew 11:28-29).
- Transforming Union (the T Stage)
Our journey of the soul culminates with being united in the generous love of Jesus Christ (e.g., Philippians 1:21).
Your progression through the CHRIST stages of faith is not linear but circular. It’s an up-and-down journey of emotional and spiritual growth in God’s grace in which we go back and forth between developmental phases.
At any time we may revisit a previous phase for deeper learning or remain in one phase for many years (1 John 2:12-14). This is not a failure. This is how we progress.
The CHRIST stages show us the general path in our journey of increasing union with God.
Each stage is a different phase in our spiritual life that we may experience. Understanding the stages gives you language for your feelings and faith.
Once you know your current home stage it shows you the next steps for how you can grow in your intimacy with Jesus and emotional-relational health.
Prayer: Father God, show me where I am on the CHRIST stages map and guide my steps. Open my heart to trust your loving presence. Amen.
©️ Bill & Kristi Gaultiere, Journey of the Soul, Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, 2021. Used by permission.
Listen to this week’s Soul Talks podcast: “Grace For All People’s Journey.” Bill and Kristi’s new book, Journey of the Soul, helps you name where you are in your relationship with God, whose love for you is unconditional. Their model of spiritual growth seeks to show God’s goodness and grace, which is for everyone! Listen in and take your next step on the journey.