After many years conducting workshops, seminars, and teaching classes on spiritual formation and spiritual disciplines, I have witnessed one central fact emerge with a consistent regularity: those seeking to make progress on the continuum of spiritual formation need at least a rudimentary map to help facilitate the journey.
Although no single method of explaining the process of our growth into Christ-like character is flawless and complete, having a basic framework with which a spiritual aspirant might deepen his or her understanding of the journey of spiritual development is essential. Such maps of the journey provide a matrix through which a seeker might filter various experiences as well as discern what practices and disciplines might be best suited for each step along the way. Many such maps and methodologies exist, both ancient and modern, and anyone who is committed to deepening his or her walk of faith can readily find something with which they might commence the journey.
At LifeBrook we have developed a basic map of the journey of spiritual formation which is the result of our experience working with individuals and groups of sincere Christians, augmented by in depth study and research in the field of spiritual formation. We call this innovative approach The Eight Mirrors of Optimal Living and we have seen that this approach provides a way to make the journey of spiritual formation a positive and understandable process. The development and fine-tuning of the Eight Mirrors has been a beneficial learning experience for us at LifeBrook and is in keeping with our mission: to provide materials and programs to assist individuals and organizations to become the optimal version of themselves for the glory of God and the benefit of others.
Before giving a brief introduction to the Eight Mirrors of Optimal Living, a few comments about the terminology we employ is important. First, we call each component of the process a “mirror” rather than a step, or stage, or some other similar term. The reason for doing this is two-fold: the Eight Mirrors are not stages, or steps. Instead, each of the eight components balances the others. They are all part of an integrated, interconnected system that is more like a spiral than a ladder. Secondly, we use the term mirrors because each component of the system reflects all other components. The basic premise here is that no part of the program stands alone. In each component, the spiritual traveler can see the reflections of the other seven. This will be more apparent as the individual mirrors are discussed.
With that said, let me introduce you to the Eight Mirrors of Optimal Living. Keep in mind: no mirror stands alone and each mirror contains the reflection of the other seven. The Eight Mirrors are:
Mirror of Consecration
We begin by making a firm, serious commitment to allow the Holy Spirit to guide and empower us to move forward in a program of disciplined spiritual development.
Mirror of Connection
We engage in consistent practice of specific spiritual disciplines, especially prayer, meditation, and contemplation in order to connect with and deepen our daily contact with God.
Mirror of Comprehension
We undertake a systematic process of study of both Scripture and relevant materials that will facilitate a deepening of our understanding of God’s redemptive plan of restoration on earth and the establishment of his kingdom. Further, we engage in study and practice that will allow us to come to a full comprehension of our reborn identity “in Christ,” how we go about appropriating our identity as “new creations,” and what laws God has provided for the renewing our minds.
Mirror of Conscious Cognition
Based on knowledge and awareness of the necessity of renewing our minds, we apply specific principles and biblical laws designed to facilitate a change in our thinking (cognition) and thus a change in our behavior. Through a process we call “conscious cognition” we learn to think more positively, tear down strongholds, and take every thought captive for Christ.
Mirror of Character
We continue the process of disciplined growth into “Christ-character,” which is the only legitimate goal of spiritual formation. Based on an understanding that, through Christ, God has already provided all that we need to live godly lives and, further, that we have already been blessed in the heavenly realms, we continue to allow the Holy Spirit to show us how we may facilitate the process of bringing those blessings of a godly life (Christ-character) down from the spiritual realm and into concrete manifestation in our daily lives.
Mirror of Community
We deepen our awareness of the importance of Christian community and our understanding of the reality that the path of faith was never intended to be traversed in isolation. We study the role of spiritual gifting by the Holy Spirit, discern and clarify our gifts, and develop a specific strategy for utilizing our gifts for the edification of the Body of Christ. We also come to realize that, as humans, we are part of a global family and also part of an interconnected whole. Through ongoing study and spiritual practice, our goal in this mirror is to deepen our experiential awareness of the fact that when one part of this interconnected whole suffers, all suffer at some level. Further, we also understand that when one part is blessed, all are blessed. One of the primary goals in the Mirror of Community is to develop a vital, personal sense of compassion for our hurting world and become profoundly motivated to incarnate the heart of Christ in areas of need, locally, nationally, and globally.
Mirror of Contribution
As Christians, believers in and followers of Christ, our mandate is to continue his incarnation on earth in general and to work toward establishing his kingdom in particular. The example given to us by Jesus, by washing his disciples’ feet and in many other ways, makes it abundantly clear that the Christians’ call is foremost a call to service. By becoming sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit, we discover an area of need, pick up our towel and get to work. We acknowledge that in today’s world, perhaps the most effective form of outreach and evangelism is through genuine acts of Christian kindness, borne from a love of God and a heart of compassion.
Mirror of Celebration
Growing in Christ-character, we come to a living, joyful awareness that the Christian life is, indeed, the best of all possible worlds. We comprehend on every level that Jesus spoke a core truth when he told us that it is by losing our lives that we gain them. We celebrate our blessings as Christ-followers in worship, enjoyment of the created order, our own creativity, and especially in a personal sense of fulfillment. Our worldview is characterized by a realistic optimism, based on God’s incredible promises, his integrity, and his faithfulness. We seek at every opportunity to share that joy with others
As mentioned earlier, our mission at LifeBrook Ministries to provide programs and materials that enable individuals and organizations to manifest the optimal version of who and what they are. For the Christian, this means understanding, accepting and appropriating a new identity in Christ.
In its most fundamental sense, the process of fully appropriating your new identity in Christ is the greatest gift you can give to the world. Operating under you old identity, you were spiritually dead, cut off from the source of your true life. You were under the control of your lower nature, what Paul referred to as “the flesh.” Furthermore, you were held under the sway of both the world and the enemy. Living under these burdensome limitations, there was no way you could possibly approach the dynamic creativity and productivity of your God-given potential. Now, however, by taking possession of who and what you are “in Christ,” you can discover your divine potential, find your spiritual calling, develop you personal vision, and grow into the best version of yourself.
In Christ, you are reborn – you are spiritually alive and capable of making your own unique contribution to the world. Here at LifeBrook, our experience has convinced us that the Eight Mirrors of Optimal Living provide a positive and affirmative map of the journey toward completion “in Christ.” Empowered, directed, and assisted in every way by the Holy Spirit, the Eight Mirrors provide a valuable and effective matrix through which you can understand the dynamics of your faith formation and move forward with optimism, hope, and confidence toward becoming the optimal version of yourself. When you become the best version of yourself, when you walk in your glory, you are in reality a gift from God to a hurting world.
*** LifeBrook Ministries offers workshops, lectures, and other programs related to the Eight Mirrors of Optimal Living. Also, individualized coaching programs built around the Eight Mirrors are available. Rates for these programs, as well as all services offered by LifeBrook Ministries, are quite affordable. If you would like more information regarding programs, lectures, and other services, please contact us at:
(c) L.D. Turner 2008/ All Rights Reserved