And He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and He continued in subjection to them; and His mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” (Luke 2:51–52, NASB95)

Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. What’s the secret to long-term spiritual growth and vitality? How do we actually take on these traits mentioned of Jesus in these verses? What drives a desire to keep “increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men?”

Of course, a careful read in these two verses shows that Jesus understood something most people today react to. Jesus was aware that those who want to grow must be in subjection to their earthly authorities. For Jesus, at the age of 12, that authority was His parents.

And this wasn’t difficult for Him because, as the Son of God, He had long ago chosen to be in subjection to the Father of Life. After all, that is part of the nature of being the Son of God. Repeatedly in later life, this submission comes into view.

At one point in the midst of being harassed by the Jewish leaders of His day, “Jesus answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.” (John 5:19, NASB95)

Surrender to the All-Knowing-One is the key to spiritual and personal growth. Athletes and musicians have coaches. Bodybuilders and those who want to be fit have trainers. Each of these relationships requires the one who needs to grow to be submissive to the one who has greater knowledge and can help each individual accomplish more than they could by themselves.

This is the principle of discipleship. An attitude of subjection to those God has put in authority over us is the first step to spiritual and personal growth. If one is not teachable then all the information in the world will do nothing to improve the lot of the individual. As Jesus will later say in His ministry, “Do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” (Matthew 7:6, NASB95) Chose to be teachable!

Train Them Thursdays seeks to wed the Great Commission directive of Jesus with the practice He employed while on Earth. Each nugget is meant to encourage the reader with a “can-do” spirit to realize that discipleship is something each person is both capable of and empowered to accomplish. Dr. Matthew Lee Smith, Executive Director of Eagles In Leadership, writes each thought and they flow out of decades of his tried and true field-testing in multiple settings from rural to the inner city. He welcomes your comments below.