It is always fun to celebrate a toddler who is learning to walk, even though he is falling down more than he is walking. We don’t withhold approval from him until perfect walking is achieved, but we cheer on this child who is growing in the gift of walking.
Even though I would celebrate a baby’s progress, I noticed I would not celebrate my own progress in areas I was growing in. This negative tendency of mine resulted from my upbringing but was greatly increased by a religious mindset.
Under a religious mindset, we can’t be joyful or celebrate until there is perfection. This attitude overemphasizes verses like “Be ye perfect as my heavenly father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48) and underemphasize the verses I will share below. Religious, perfectionist, performance-based mindsets tend to only celebrate perfection, but families celebrate progress. We are the family of God, and the celebration of progress is part of family life (even for ourselves).
Here are five biblically supported celebrations to help you move forward in this truth.
- The Process Celebration – “As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2). We are likened to babies here, and we are told spiritual growth is a normal process. It is God’s plan we will do things better and better as we mature.
- The Delighting in the Lord Celebration – “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). It is difficult to delight in the Lord if we are not delighting in ourselves. Those who go on the journey to truly delight in the Lord will have to overcome negativity toward themselves.
- The He is a Good Completer Celebration – “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). Our faith is not to be in our ability to grow but in His ability to finish what He started in us. This verse is one of the greatest reasons to celebrate our progress.
- The Worshiping Glory to Glory Celebration – “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18). As we really see Him, we will become increasingly like him (moving from glory to glory). We cannot truly behold Him if we are burdened down with a “veiled face” of guilt, condemnation, and self-disapproval.
- The Building Spiritual Muscle Celebration – “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead. I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12-14). It is interesting Paul said he is not perfected yet. He pressed against resistance in his life to keep growing his spiritual muscles. We too can celebrate when it feels hard to get to a higher level (our upward calls in life).
These are powerful verses to propel us to radically celebrate ourselves. Obviously, if you are hurting or abusing people, get help, but I believe I am writing to people who want to do it right and make a positive difference in the world. As we celebrate our progress, instead of waiting for perfection to do so, we will find joy growing in us which will be a strength to improve our lives in incredible ways. For more on this listen to my podcast here.
You may also find these previous podcasts helpful:
ABOUT STEVE BACKLUND
Steve Backlund was a senior pastor for seventeen years before joining the team at Bethel Church in Redding, CA in 2008. Steve is a leader developer, joy activist, a revivalist teacher, and as Senior Associate Director, is a key part of the Global Legacy (a ministry of Bethel Church) leadership team. He travels extensively throughout the world encouraging churches and leaders and has authored a number of books.