The late Napoleon Hill, famed self-help author, shared with radio listeners his list of the major causes of failure in life. Number one is the “habit of drifting through life without a definite purpose or a definite plan for attaining it…Drifting. Lacking in singleness of purpose.  Lacking a plan for carrying out the purpose. There you have a major reason for all failures in this world.”[1] Hill described the majority of people as “goldfish in a bowl: they go round and round, always coming back to the starting point, but never getting anywhere.”[2] Sadly, Hill’s description could be applied equally in the world of Christianity. Far too many believers, people who claim the name of Christ, drift with the currents of life with no explicit plan for increasing their knowledge of God, strengthening their faith, or mastering more of God’s Word.

Often churches, perhaps with franchises scattered across multiple sites, offer little Bible study opportunities beyond the forty minute Sunday morning sermon. The churches preach about Jesus and sound out in favor of “life change” but focused discipleship with deliberate Bible consumption is often missing from the ministry menu. Discussion-based small groups have become the mechanism where attendees connect with one another, but what about the all-important connection with God through His Word? Though our country has many churches, Bible illiteracy runs rampant.

Large churches unwittingly make anonymous Christianity possible. With multiple services and campuses employing video-based preaching the church can be as impersonal as the theater or warehouse in which it meets. Unless the attendee takes the initiative to connect, to find a smaller group or a friend for fellowship, the church experience becomes attending a performance with slick professionals providing music that rocks the soul, ambiance that creates an ethereal excitement, and a media-rich pep talk that raises tingles up the spine.

Lazy River

So who is to blame? Can I point my finger at the church if I am not growing spiritually? No! Spiritual growth is a personal responsibility, and each must take charge of his own quest to achieve it. Blessed are those who attend churches where the leaders foster the journey through appropriate ministry opportunities.

The life of faith in Christ does not end at the moment of one’s salvation. Salvation is the starting point for a vibrant relationship with God where I learn more about Him, grow closer to Him, and serve Him with a love that deepens through the seasons. And there is no more authoritative source on God than His Word. Wise is the believer who undertakes a careful and habitual study of this Book.

The writer of Hebrews (whoever he may be) captured a warning that resounds with timeliness today as it did 2000 years ago.

For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it.
Hebrews 2:1 NASB


That tiny word drift means to let slip, to flow by, or to carelessly pass. Outdoorsy types who’ve tubed down a river get the picture. The warm sunshine, the gentle current, and the water splashing over us turn that ring of air into the most comfortable lounge chair. Tubers are not washing away in a torrent. Their motion is slow, sometimes imperceptible. We may even fall asleep. And that is the snapshot of a believer who is drifting spiritually.

We must be on guard. We must take heed. We must be deliberate when it comes to spiritual maturity, and we must have a well-rounded diet that includes the meat of the Word. Moses shared a similar warning with Israel.

Only give heed to yourself and keep your soul diligently, so that you do not forget the things which your eyes have seen and they do not depart from your heart all the days of your life; but make them known to your sons and your grandsons.
Deuteronomy 4:9 NASB

Am I drifting? Or do I have a spiritual growth plan?


[1] Success Habits, Napoleon Hill, Pages 100-101

[2] Success Habits, Napoleon Hill, Pages 100-101


Note: The leading image, “Driftwood”, is used courtesy of user digitaldundee at https://morguefile.com.
The image, “Lazy River”, is used courtesy of user diannehope at https://morguefile.com.
The image, “Tubing,” is used courtesy of user xpistwv at https://morguefile.com.