I am a part of a discipleship class at our church where we talk about what it looks like to be a mature believer. Because I spend the majority of my days with two toddlers and an infant I can’t help but see this lesson on maturity displayed in the developmental growth of our children.
We might tease our kids that we don't want them to grow up, but the truth is that we most definitely do. I look forward to the day when they can tie their own shoes and use the bathroom without help. I sometimes long for the day when fifteen minutes can pass without someone in my house crying or whining and when I don't have to worry about a temper tantrum in the middle of the grocery store... wait, am I ranting? I guess you get it!
I really do love this stage of life (despite the rant), but I don’t want to stay here. I want my children to grow to become mature adults that contribute in great ways to the world around them. News flash! God wants the same of his believing children.
In our class, we identified three gifts we are given to help us develop in maturity - Prayer, Community and God’s word.
Prayer - Seek Your Father
There are some Godly qualities that come with being childlike. Children trust parents as their providers, taking our word as truth and seeking us for anything they need. In most cases, they find their identity and their joy in the family. They seek their parents for answers - often with many “why?” questions, not doubting the answers.
We are called to do the same with our Heavenly Father. Luke 18:1-8 tells us that he wants us to nag him even. Jesus tells us in Matthew 18:3-4 that we are to have faith (humility) like a child in order to enter the kingdom of heaven. This is not telling us to be immature, but to know our place before our great Father, to seek him in faith and not doubt him.
Community - Socialize with Peers
This fall, our oldest child started preschool. At the parent’s meeting, the Director told us that the purpose of the first year is to teach kids how to communicate with one another and work together. They must learn how to function with a group of peers because we are made to go through life with others and not in isolation. Beyond that, learning with others challenges them to grow.
We need each other. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 tells us that we need to encourage and build one another up. Proverbs 27:17 reminds us that iron sharpens iron and Hebrews 10:24-25 says to meet together and stir up one another to love and good works. The times in my life that I have seen the most spiritual growth without going through strife, have been because I was challenged by another’s walk with Christ.
God’s word - Learn
The mind of a child really is a sponge. It is an amazing miracle to watch the human mind develop and learn. They are constantly growing into an older, more mature version of themselves.
We must keep learning if we want to keep growing. In Hebrews 5, the Hebrews (Jewish Christians) are rebuked for their stagnant faith. In verses 12 - 14 the writer tells them that they ought to be teachers by now, but instead need someone to teach them the basics. They need milk (like a baby), instead of solid food (for the mature). We must regularly be reading our Bibles. We do not know God if we do not know his word. We only know a version of him that we have created in our own sinful minds.
I want to share the questions that our pastor challenged us with: Have you been purposefully pursuing maturity in Christ? What steps can you take to plan for maturity?