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The Iceberg Model of Christian Spiritual Formation™

How to Apply a Biblical Model of Christian Spiritual Formation to Your Deepest Concerns


Based on studies conducted by The Barna Group, and observations raised by notable authors like Dallas Willard, we can conclude that most Christians don’t really know how to live the abundant life procured and promised by Jesus Christ.  Today, many Christians live “miserably victorious” lives through cultural traditions and religious legalism. Privately they are often puzzled by their inevitable failures to “practice what they preach.” Other Christians more interested in grace than law, may appear more relaxed but on closer inspection their lives also reveal a discrepancy.

In either case, moralists and libertarians are experiencing greater distress, imbalance, and dissatisfaction. Sadly, their inability to unite the profession of faith with a viable practice of faith compromises their claims about Christ. 


Christian counselor, Rob Jackson, has developed The Iceberg Model of Christian Spiritual FormationTM. This integrated plan equips the Christian to obey Christ in the Spirit by illustrating a nine-step process. The Iceberg accomplishes its one goal by:

Cultivating friendship with the Triune God, through the Holy Spirit

Integrating spirit, mind, and body

Producing behaviors that glorifies God

Stimulating relationships characterized by the fruit of the Spirit

The nine steps are best seen as signposts along the journey of Christian Spiritual Formation. They are found in three movements orchestrated by the Comforter.

As the Christian interacts intimately with the Comforter of his soul, and proactively adapts his whole life to this systematic plan, he can generally expect the following in degrees:

Clarification and emergence of his identity in Christ

Joyful acceptance that God truly cherishes him

Practical reunion of his body, mind, and spirit resulting in increasing response-ability

Spirit-filled mortification of sins

Acceptance and healing of historical wounds

Fidelity and steadfast devotion to God in times of trials and trauma

Reductions, if not absolute cessations in mental illness and addictions 


When Rob was 13, he began to experience daily panic attacks that would last until he was 20 and a junior in college. Desperate for help, he added psychology as a double major hoping to find Christ-centered help at the Baptist College he attended. One day, the professor went to the board and drew an iceberg to illustrate the lesson for the day – Freud’s Psychoanalysis. Frustrated, Rob began to scratch out the notes he had taken. Little did he know that no professional theory of Christian personality existed in the mid-80s. Before the class had finished, however, Rob had the first four steps of what would eventually become the model that illustrated his own recovery from panic disorder and depression. 

Now at 57, Rob is comforting others with the comfort that he continues to enjoy. In his counseling practice, he routinely helps men, women, and children discover the intersection of Christian Spiritual Formation and wellness. Rob is also writing and speaking about how enjoying God is the one thing that brings life and peace to the soul. 


Going Deeper