Spirituality and How to Nurture It Within

Like some of you, I’ve always hungered after spirituality. As a consequence, I have learned many things about it over the years.

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I think I've always known this. But it was not until just a few years ago I had the courage to admit it to myself.

As a Christian minister, had I publicly admitted to my congregation that I sometimes had doubts about my faith or that I felt that Christians held no patent on God, I would have been, as they say in Kentucky, "tarred and feathered," by threatened, offended, and insecure Christian people who took great pleasure in the illusion of being God's "chosen."

If there is anything I am learning it is the wisdom of uncertainty. The older I get, and I hope wiser, too, the more certain I become that there is very little about which any of us can be certain. This is especially true when it comes to faith. In fact, I'm pretty certain, although not absolutely certain, the religious people who seem the most certain of their faith (and Christian television and radio are full of faith on steroids) are either totally evil or they are just unaware that their outward confidence only masks their inner insecurity.

"You can have religion with spirituality; you can also have religion without spirituality" - Eckhart Tolle. I would add to Tolle's words, "You can have spirituality without religion."

God is a liberal. She's generous, inclusive, and bigger than the capacity of our little brains to comprehend. Spirituality will flourish more beautifully when you let go of the arrogance that is always the consequence of inner insecurity with one's own spiritual identity. If you meet a religious person who seems interested only in making himself right by making you wrong, you can be pretty certain you've met a very insecure person. Besides, if they were really in touch with their own spirituality, they would know they have nothing to prove and nothing to defend.

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Make it your ambition to grow up into spiritual maturity. As you do, you will then be able to say with Mother Teresa, "I love all religions, even as I'm IN LOVE with my own."

4. A deep, enriching spirituality is the consequence of a regular practice of meditation, introspection, reading, and reflection.

I teach university students the art of persuasive speaking. During any semester, students are expected to speak at least four to six times. While the first speech is a short three-to-five minute introductory speech, by the end of the semester, they deliver a twenty-to-thirty minute speech.

Why do I have them make this many speeches in one semester? It is because I know that, by practicing one's art, whatever it may be, one becomes a skilled practitioner. When a better method of becoming a speaker than by simply speaking is written, I'll teach that method. What is true of speaking, or any art, is true of spirituality.

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Dr. Steve McSwain
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