Two processes contribute to our being transformed.
Transformation is the process whereby believers in Christ increase in maturity in Him, leaving behind old values, loves, ideas, and practices as they submit to the Word and Spirit of God and are changed increasingly into the image of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 3.12-18).
According to Mark Slatter, writing in the Spring 2015 issue of Spiritus, two processes operate within this larger framework to accomplish transformation (“Are Growth and Conversion Being Confused in the Spiritual Life? Is Conversion Really Continuing?”).
Growth is that steady, step by step sowing into the soul that supplies it with the spiritual fuel for transformation. Conversions are those tipping points where growth spills over suddenly or erupts into new values and higher stages of transformation, bursting into fruitfulness where before only the prospect of it was in evidence.
Conversion proceeds from lower values to higher values, as these latter are grasped and embraced, and as we sow the seeds of growth toward a higher state of maturity. Conversions can be painful, involving struggle and suffering, and they seem more to be foisted upon us (by the Spirit?) than accomplished by our own efforts.
Only God can convert us, it seems to me. We can work at growing in the Lord, and we must (Phil. 2.12; 2 Pet. 3.18); but only God can give the increase. By identifying higher values, in the light of honest assessments of our current state, we can begin to sow toward those values, all the while seeking the Lord and waiting on Him to help our unbelief and lift us to a higher plane of Christian experience.