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INTERVIEW

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Benny & Pauline Tabalujan

Pauline Tabalujan   Christian Bargholz

Much has been said about ‘human flourishing’ in recent years. What does human flourishing mean to you, and how does ‘spiritual flourishing’ play into that? 
The word flourish (florêre) in Latin means ‘to flower’. When used with reference to humans, human flourishing entails abundance, productivity, health, and wealth. Today, there are varying definitions of human flourishing, but many don’t involve God. 

As I see it, if God is absent from one’s desire to flourish, then superficiality, impermanence, and vanity are likely to sprout.


I see spiritual flourishing as forming the core or foundation of human flourishing. Our central role is to imitate Christ, bear the fruit of the Spirit, and be God’s faithful ambassadors. When human flourishing is anchored in God, it becomes spiritual flourishing where God’s beauty is manifested in and through us. Importantly, spiritual flourishing takes root internally but bears external fruits, enabling us to be salt and light to others. 

Spiritual flourishing is also about building character traits like faithfulness, resilience, and perseverance. A biblical example is the parable of the wise and foolish builders (Matthew 7:24-27). Spiritual flourishing is descriptive of the man who built his house on a rock while mere human flourishing – without the spiritual element – is like the man who built his house on sand. Spiritual flourishing provides a firm foundation that anchors our souls in God.

Spiritual flourishing is also a dynamic process, with the end goal that we glorify God in becoming the person he created us to be (Philippians 1:6). Spiritual flourishing is both a process and a destination for Christians. We are all ‘works-in-progress’ as we look forward to dwelling in the house of the Lord all the days of our lives (Psalm 27:4). 

What does spiritual flourishing look like in your own life?
Spiritual flourishing helps me see life as an adventure with God. Without him, all of life becomes meaningless, a chasing after wind (Ecclesiastes 1:14). It’s about seeing God’s purpose in all my encounters. Whether it’s appreciating the joys of life or weathering the storms of tribulation, God’s central in my life and all glory is given to him. 

Spiritual flourishing is also about ‘paying-it-forward’. Even though I’m unable to fully repay Christians who have guided me, I can begin to pay it forward by nurturing and encouraging younger Christians in their spiritual journeys. 

I think it’s beneficial to share my own spiritual journey – warts and all. This will help younger Christians realise that, even with the best of intentions and faithfulness, they’ll encounter bumps along the way. The key is to learn from these setbacks and continue seeking God’s wisdom and strength. 

Other ways of nurturing younger Christians include: encouraging them to seek out and walk the good path (Jeremiah 6:16), helping them discover hidden gems in God’s Word (Psalm 119:105), and spurring them to be part of God’s community (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12). 

Giving back is another aspect of spiritual flourishing. It’s about extending the blessings received towards service within the wider community. This allows God’s light to become visible to others through us (Matthew 5:16). 

Ultimately, spiritual flourishing is allowing the Potter to mould and shape me for his good work, purpose, and glory. When his work is completed in me and I return to my Father’s house, I hope to hear him utter these words, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Lord’ (Matthew 25:23).

What would your advice be to a young Christian looking to flourish in their spiritual life?
Let me answer by saying that I love ‘tree watching‘. I’m captivated by different species of trees and enthralled by the thought that trees are quiet custodians of time. They witness life as it unfolds. The Bible encourages Christians to strive to become ‘oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord, for the display of his splendour’ (Isaiah 61:3). How can we achieve that? 

When we look at trees, are we attracted only to the canopy, flowers, or fruits? Do we comprehend the importance of a strong root system in providing sustenance and support? In order to flourish spiritually, I would encourage young Christians to seek to develop a strong and deep spiritual root system that comprises the following practices:

Routine – Practice regularly the spiritual disciplines of reading, praying, solitude, and contemplation (Joshua 1:8).

Observation – Note the godly lives and examples of mature Christians among you and seek out spiritual mentors and peers as you walk this journey. Be purposeful and intentional in seeking communion with fellow Christians. The spiritual community is created by God for a reason (Psalm 145:4; Psalm 27:17).

Ownership – When you feel you’ve slipped in your faith, acknowledge it, seek God’s forgiveness, and ask for his wisdom that is given without reproach. God desires only a broken and contrite heart (James 1:5; Psalm 51:17).

Thankfulness – Giving thanks for all things and in all circumstances is a panacea for life’s troubles. Cultivate it daily (1Thessalonians 5:18).

Service – Seek opportunities to serve in the church and community. This gives purpose and meaning and, importantly, makes our faith real. Engaging in service also ensures that our faith is not lived in isolation but is challenged and tested with the promise that we will grow through the process. (1 Samuel 12:24; Isaiah 46:4).

May we all strive to cultivate strong ROOTS!

Pauline Tabalujan is a member of Belmore Road Church of Christ in Melbourne. She was interviewed by Christian Bargholz.    pipiben8@gmail.com

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