Cooking Without Ingredients
Back in the olden days ... perhaps 15 or 20 years ago ... way, way back ... people used to make cakes out of things called ingredients. Ingredients could include ancient artifacts such as flour, butter, eggs, salt, baking power, vanilla, and other now-hard-to-find endangered resources. People would actually measure these ingredients, mix them together in the right proportions in the right order, and then bake the magic concoction at the right temperature for a specific amount of time. After these heroic manual feats, there would eventually and miraculously be a delicious cake.
Today, you buy a box, add water, maybe a little oil, maybe an egg, stir with a fork, bake and you get a good, but not great or magical, cake.
In the ancient mystery art of cakebaking, you could not make a cake without the core ingredients. If you had no eggs, you knew that there will be no cake. If you had no milk or flour, it would also result in the tragedy of cakelessness. There was no concept of having cake without having the core ingredients. Some ingredients were optional, such as chocolate powdered sugar, but some were essential for cake to happen.
There are some core ingredients to personal spiritual growth. Without these ingredients, I've never seen a spiritually mature person, just like I've never seen a real cake without eggs and flour. These ingredients include: regular times of meaningful prayer, Scripture reading and contemplation, authentic community, times of true rest in solitude, and serving the cause of Christ (not just helping with church activities). If we don't have ingredients like these, we should have no expectation of significant spiritual growth.
There are some "ingredients" that are optional, but make for a good variety of cakes: fasting, simplicity, mentoring, and so on. You can have spiritual growth without them, but you can have greater spiritual growth with them.
There is no box mix for spiritual growth - no video, no book, no seminar, no church attendance, no half-hearted adoption of spiritual disciplines that will produce true spiritual growth. You can't microwave a premium cake.
Ask yourself if you're expecting cake without the right ingredients - expecting true spiritual growth without prioritizing the core habits that are necessary for it. If not, then it is a simple as "no eggs, no cake." If you are, and yet still are struggling to see spiritual growth, then talk to someone you trust. Either you're growing and don't see it, or perhaps you need a hand with some of the ingredients for a little while. But we can't grow without them.
One other thing necessary for great cake is the right amount of heat. I think the right amount of heat is also necessary for spiritual growth.