Journey to Wholeness
“The goal of my life is to help each person grow to full maturity—wholeness in Jesus.”
-Philip K. Hardin, M.A., MDiv., LMFT, LPC
By Philip K. Hardin, M.A., MDiv., LMFT, LPC
What’s the goal?
What’s the purpose?
What’s the mission?
Why do you exist?
These are critical questions for life, for a business, or for any challenge. The goal of my life and ministry is wholeness—to bring every man, woman, and family to a place of maturity and completeness. I desire that every opportunity I have with those God brings my way is to do whatever I can to see healing in what is broken and guide them to a place of love and being loved. I want them to be equipped in relationship and life circumstances as God intended. To me, it seems to be the most natural and expected aspect of life. This goal is like air and water to me. I must have it. I must do it. I know no other goal to have. This goal brings flavor and color to my life. Without it, life would be a “black and white”, flavorless, and tasteless existence.
I was changed by Jesus over 40 years ago. My heart and life were transformed by the Gospel. I had an immediate hunger for his Word and Colossians 1:28, 29 captured the direction of my life.
The more expansive translation of The Amplified Bible states, “We proclaim Him, warning and instructing everyone in all wisdom [that is, with comprehensive insight} so that we may present every person mature (full-grown, fully initiated, complete, and perfect) in Christ....” Colossians 1:28
The Apostle Paul said the ultimate goal is “to present every man mature—complete—mature in Christ.” The Greek word is telios. Paul used this word only five times in the New Testament — each time to describe full- grown adults (see 1 Corinthians 2:6; 14:20; Ephesians 4:13; Philippians 3:15; and Colossians 1:28). It describes how, as a person develops, he or she transitions from being youthful and immature to an individual who is full- grown and mature.
In the context of discerning our ministry purpose, this verse gives very clear direction. It tells us that we are not called just to win masses to Christ and then leave them behind as spiritual infants. Rather, our God-given task is to help people walk out of immaturity while leading them onward into spiritual maturity. Bringing people up to this level of maturity is an undertaking so huge that Paul acknowledged it could only be done with the power of God.
To be clear, as a counselor, life coach, and disciple of Jesus, here’s what I believe this passage means for my life and ministry:
The goal of my life is to help each person grow to full maturity—wholeness in Jesus.
Dr. Howard Hendricks, used to say, “You cannot impart what you do not possess!” If I’m not making a concerted effort to grow in Christ, then I can’t help someone else in that process.
So, what does maturity in Christ look like?
Maturity is achieved when a person develops Christlike character and behavior.
To describe this, we could go through the entire Bible cataloging all the character traits and behaviors that are commanded and exemplified in the lives of godly saints. But the supreme example is Jesus Christ. He said that the two greatest commandments are to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves (Mark. 12:29-31). These are relational commands.
You cannot measure how mature in Christ you are without assessing your relationships with God and with others.
A growing, maturing person is involved in an intimate relationship with God and willing to face whatever sin—brokenness, chaos, or addiction that inhibits relationship. The maturing person is changing in his thinking through God’s Word and through His indwelling Holy Spirit.
Rom. 12:1,2 - MSG) says, “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”
A growing person knows how to take charge, ownership of his life. He is responsible and discerning in how he fails to love and be loved by others.
I also understand how God grows Christlike character and conduct in us by refining us through trials as seen in James 1:2 where it instructs us not to try to get out of our suffering prematurely. Instead it encourages us to let it do its work, so we can become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. This is where we learn wisdom through understanding the experiences of life.
Another key concept in understanding being whole is being able to see both who I am in Christ – that I have been given gifts and talents that I am to use to grow His Kingdom AND, that as a human being, I am broken. I fail and hurt others daily.
As a growing child of God, I can own my brokenness and acknowledge vulnerably that I fail daily. I live with no secrets and offer my life to love God and others. A whole, maturing, growing person is able to take ownership of BOTH the good and the bad that comes from his life.
So with the goal of my life being to guide men, women, and families into a life of growth in character and behavior, Let me tell you about Kevin.
Kevin came to me for help. He entered my counseling office discouraged and hurting. He was divorced and trying to care for his children while fighting depression and a general lack of direction. We began working on helping him be aware of what was going on in him and around him—increasing his self-awareness. I encouraged him to attend our Men’s Coaching Weekend. This is where he personally experienced the reality of Jesus. He saw the community of men embrace him in his weakness and commit to walk with him as he worked to take charge of his life. As months passed, Kevin’s life changed dramatically. He is now remarried and growing in his ability to be a better dad to his children and husband to his wife. Kevin is committed to the process of becoming whole.
Finally, I want every man, woman, and family to experience peace. The Hebrew word shalom, as a noun, has the more literal meaning of being in a state of wholeness or being without deficiency.
The ancient Hebrew concept of “shalom,” means wholeness, completeness, soundness, health, safety and prosperity, carrying with it the implication of permanence.
The goal of my life and ministry is to offer wholeness to every man, woman, and family through the person of Jesus.