A fair sage at his death,
and master of a community,
he spoke with an angel;
he studied Greek grammar.
- Dallán Forgaill, Amra Choluimb Chille, Irish, 6th century
And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
- Luke 2.52
Colum Cille was a remarkable man. The son of a king and destined for the throne, he instead chose the life of a monk. He became the first of many Irish missionaries – called peregrini – to wander beyond the shores of their native land, taking the message of the Gospel to new peoples and new lands.
Colum was a man of great learning, courage, administrative skill, and relational gifts. He founded the monastic community on Iona, off the northwest coast of Scotland, and drew young men from Ireland and elsewhere to study and serve with him. His example of godliness, industry, courage, faith, and vision inspired generations of believers. He was, as Dallán Forgaill explained, regarded simultaneously as a sage, pastor, mystic, and scholar.
Becoming a person like Colum, who was able to love, nurture, and influence those the Lord brought into his life, doesn’t just happen. We need to work at this daily. It can be helpful, therefore, if we have an honest understanding of how to bring all facets of our lives into joyous submission to the Lord at all times.
The outline of Colum’s life, which Dallán provided in this lament at his passing, recalls the growth pattern of our Lord Jesus Christ: wisdom, stature, favor with God, favor with men. Here’s a pattern we can all adopt with benefit. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and if we can bring that fear, coupled with growing love for the Lord, into every area of our lives, we may expect to see continuous growth in becoming more like Jesus.
Such growth entails taking care of our bodies, so that we can be healthy and strong to serve the Lord for many years. This means not just meeting our physical needs; we also need to discipline ourselves and direct our bodies for seeking the Kingdom and glory of the Lord. Spiritual growth begins within our bodies, in our souls. But unless we discipline our bodies to submit to the time and demands of spiritual growth, we’ll never get beyond square one.
The goal of discipline is discipleship – a closer walk with Jesus and more consistent and effective service in His Name. Spiritual growth is from the inside-out, as we come before the Lord in prayer and His Word, to encounter His glory and grow in Him. Day by day we should work hard to grow in wisdom as well as stature, and in favor with the Lord and men, practicing those disciplines that bring us into His Presence and fit us for daily life and service. We need to study hard and prepare well to show ourselves approved of God in learning and living His Word (2 Tim. 2.15).
On this continuously reinforced foundation, we must nurture the skills of wisdom for every aspect of our lives and work, so that we might glorify the Lord in even the smallest details and activities (1 Cor. 10.31). We’ll only increase in favor with others as we learn to love them with the love of Christ, and as we do our work in such a way as to glorify God in all the details.
This is enough for any of us to concentrate on for the rest of our lives – growing in wisdom, bodily discipline, spiritual growth, and relational and vocational fruitfulness. The key to well-rounded, continuous growth, is to embrace those disciplines that will help us grow in the grace of the Lord, so that we increase in Christ-likeness to refract His Presence and glory into every area of our lives – all our relationships, roles, and responsibilities.
If we can achieve consistent growth in all these areas, it may be that God will use us like He did Colum, to bring the light of the Gospel, the transforming power of grace, and loving works of ministry that will reach many people for years to come.
Growth like this doesn’t just happen. We must apply ourselves diligently to the task, daily pressing on to become more like the great saints of the past, but especially, more like Jesus.
1. Where would you like to improve in your practice of the disciplines of discipleship?
2. Whom can you enlist to pray for you as you work on this?
Psalm 9.1, 2 (Diademata: “Crown Him with Many Crowns”)
I will give thanks, O Lord, with all my heart to You!
I’ll tell the wonders of Your Word, so many and so true!
With joy to You I cry; Your glory I will raise;
Your matchless Name, O Lord on High, will I forever praise!
Help me, Lord, to grow in all these ways; help me to improve my walk with You so that…
The Disciplined Life
A call to prayer for September
We are asking all of you in The Ailbe Community – all who read or use any of our resources – to make a special, daily focus in prayer, that God would move the hearts of many to share in the financial needs of this ministry. The Lord supports our work through the prayerful and generous gifts of those who share our vision and are served by our ministry. Please join us throughout the month of September, as we ask the Lord to move and enable more of those who benefit from this ministry to share in our financial needs. If the Lord moves you to give, you can use the Contribute button at the website to give with a credit card or through PayPal, or you can send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.
T. M. Moore
All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 Clancy and Márkus, p. 113.