I've always been fascinated by both Spiritual Growth and Personal Growth. I often considered these as being isolated dimensions of my life. It was as if these each offered alternative views of what it meant to be a successful human.
Until recently most of my reading didn't integrate these two viewpoints at all. Spiritual writers provided little insight into psychology and psychologists would not even broach the subject of spiritual truths. This gap was reflected in my own thinking. I learned to see that while both the Sacred and Profane areas of life were important that they were not integrated in any meaningful way.
Spiritual Growth is concerned with spiritual development. It defines a worldview of God and the Devil, angels and demons, heaven and hell, redemption and sin. These glorious concepts are important to our spirits but do not relate to our physical lives. They are confined to religious activity: Prayer, Bible study, Worship, Fasting, and Church.
Personal Growth is concerned with the psychological development. Learning to live the good life is the domain of Self-Improvement books and teachings. It deals with Logic, Goal setting, Psychology of Mental Health, Emotional Intelligence, Success and Happiness. Personal growth is about how to be a better human and is completely silent about anything spiritual or supernatural.
This separation between physical and spiritual realities is unnatural and unhealthy. It is vital that we integrate these together in our understanding. Mental and spiritual health are integrally connected and cannot be achieved without taking a more holistic view.
For the last ten years, I have been working hard to come to an understanding that merges the best concepts from both the physical and spiritual teachings available. I have read around 100 books from various authors that deal with growth and have sought to integrate the understanding .
People tend to resonate with either the spiritual or the physical explanations of the world and mostly reject the insight of the other. But I think that the true understanding lies in between and embraces both.
Recently I have aware of content that seriously integrates the psychological teaching with the spiritual dynamics. Spiritual Formation seeks to bring together two views of the world to provide a more complete understanding. Invitation to a Journey by Robert Mulholland and Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Pete Scazzero were excellent books that gave me a lot of new insight into what it means to be human.
Both deal with how our emotional makeup affects our understanding of God, others, and ourselves. They argue that true health can never be achieved without dealing with issues of emotional development and well as morality. Either of these can become a whole in the boat that will cause it to sink.
Humans are physical, emotional, rational, social and spiritual, so true health requires addressing all aspects of our humanity. What we seek is nothing sort of a personal transformation that touches every area of life and brings health to all.