The Process of Growing Up.

If there is one characteristic that stands out in the adult human race - it has to be a lack of maturity.

To put in in different terms - people have not learnt how to grow up.

For too much of my life, I was in the same boat, and I am quick to admit that I still have a way to go before achieving full maturity. However, having been immature, and then working on correcting the situation, gives me the benefit  of understanding both sides. The only qualifications I have for writing this article, are my own life experiences, and my knowledge of the Scriptures. Feel free to contribute your ideas if you think  that I have missed something.

The start of human life.

All humans start out with our first, or human birth by blood, as mentioned by Jesus in John 3:6.

As a new born baby lying in a crib, we are totally dependant on our parents or other caring adults for our survival. In understanding this, our "parents" do their best to provide our needs. This is the right and proper thing to do, but in doing it, they begin to teach the new born child that he or she is the equivalent of the center of the universe.

As babies we soon learn that if we have a need - food or a clean nappy - we just cry and someone will come and fix the problem.  If the problem is not fixed soon enough - from the baby's perspective - then increasing the volume seems to help. If this does not work, then it is always someone else's fault.  The baby takes no responsibility for the problem.

We all start out in life being totally selfish, innocent in our own eyes, and all the problems we come across in life are always caused by someone else.

Our perspective at birth.

Our own self is the most important person in the world.

Those around us that provide our needs and entertainment, are given some recognition.

We have not the faintest idea of who is God, nor any knowledge of the concept of a supreme being who is in charge of the universe.

At the end of a human life.

If we survive to old age, and we have experienced our second birth (the water of baptism John 3:5) - we should end up living our life the way Jesus did - doing everything to please the Father, as best as we are able.

Joh 8:29  And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him."

Mat 7:21 NET.  "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter into the kingdom of heaven — only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.

In order to be able to live our life the way Jesus would, we need to read the Bible to find out how He handled situations. One place where there is a concentration of instructions on how to live like Jesus is found in Matthew 5:1 - Mat 7:29. It is worth reading these instructions in three or four different translations - or several times if you you only have one translation.

It soon becomes clear that Christians need to be able to handle the "under dog" situations of life. Sure - we might be in training to look after some area of responsibility in the coming Kingdom of God, but before our third and spiritual birth (John 3:5) we may be treated harshly by the world. And we have to learn how to take the "put downs" of life, without retaliation.

We can only do this if we see God the Father as the supreme being in the universe, and want to please Him more that the people around us, and even ourselves.

What should be our perspective at death?

We should have come to understand that God the Father is the source of eternal life, and that He only gives it to people who are willing to live by His Ten Commandments, and all the principles that come under their umbrella.

We have to be willing to put ourselves at a disadvantage in order to supply the needs of those around us. We have to be willing to "go the extra mile", to "give the shirt off our backs", to take one insult and get ready for the next. We need to be able to forgive others who "wrong us", whether or not they even ask for forgiveness.

We should see ourselves as a very small cog on a very big wheel. We should also understand that whether we live or die, make it into the Kingdom or get thrown into the Lake of Fire, it will not stop God's plan from going forward.

The transition.

In order to "grow up" and mature, we have to make the transition from seeing ourselves as the most important person in the world, to seeing God the Father as the most important being in the universe.

The needs of others will often have to take priority over the things we want to do, and that needs to happen with good grace.

This does not mean that we become a "door mat" for others to walk over. It just means that our timetable has to be flexible enough that we can take time-out to help others without getting upset over it. We still need our own agenda - make plans about what we want to achieve in life - but we understand that we do not push our own agenda to the hurt of others.

Some examples of a lack of maturity.

As I have lived life, I have come up against many people who had not achieved maturity in their life. That said, I also have to admit that I have seen people under 20 who have displayed a great amount of maturity. Maturity can come with age, but age does not automatically confer maturity.  The younger we are when we learn what maturity is all about, then the more productive our life will be on the spiritual plane - and there will be benefits on the physical plane too.

Sure, maturity can mean that your body has finished growing, and you have what they call a "mature" body.  However, the maturity I am talking about is our mental, emotional and spiritual maturity. How far have we grown from being a baby demanding that people "come through" for us, to an understanding person who can "come through" for others - all under the umbrella of God's Laws.

Temper tantrums.

I think we all have seen/heard the child screaming and kicking on the supermarket floor, because it did not get something the second it asked for it.  The child has such a high opinion of its worth, that anything stopping it from getting it's own way, receives it's full wrath. It does not care that its screams are upsetting the other customers - in its mind, it's own needs exceed the needs of all other people on earth.

While older people usually learn that kicking and screaming on the shop floor is not sociably acceptable, their lack of maturity can still cause them to lash out at others when they do not get their own way. Teenagers (and adults) slamming doors when they are upset, is a sure sign of a lack of maturity.

Verbally or mentally or physically attacking someone else is a sign of the lack of maturity and the lack of Christian values in their life.

Being a bully is a sign of an immature person

Road rage is a sign of a lack of maturity. Driving on the roads is one place where we have to put into practice the Golden Rule all the time, and be quick to forgive someone if they make a mistake. This is another reason to leave a little extra room between you and the car in front - they might make a mistake, and you need the room to avoid becoming part of it.

Fighting - only using words hopefully - over who gets a parking bay in the car-park, is a sign for the lack of Christian values. We should be willing to "go the extra mile" and move to another parking bay further away. An extreme example of this would be if you were handicapped and an able-bodied person takes your reserved parking spot. However, this brings up a good point, if we are mature, we will not use our handicapped status (or any other reason) to justify getting upset with another human being.

How we cope with knock-backs and disappointments in our life, is a good measure of how far we are along the road to mental and emotional maturity.

Spending money.

How we spend our money is another good indicator of how  we are doing about learning to be more mature in our thinking.

If as a husband, we can justify spending large amounts of money on our current "project", but refuse to buy a new vacuum cleaner when it is needed - or whatever - for our wife, then we still have the selfish habits of a baby.

Being selfish with our money, or things money can buy, is not being mature and it is not being a good Christian.

Luk 3:11 NET.  John answered them, "The person who has two tunics must share with the person who has none, and the person who has food must do likewise."

Jas 2:15-17 NET.  If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacks daily food,  (16)  and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, keep warm and eat well," but you do not give them what the body needs, what good is it?  (17)  So also faith, if it does not have works, is dead being by itself.

There are people in the world who have gone over and above putting these principles into practice. However, there is more to being a Christian than giving to others. We need to have balance. Yes, as the opportunities come along, we need to share, but we also need to look after ourselves and our families needs. Not to pamper the self, but to set a good example for the people who are around us. The Golden Rule is, do unto others as you would have them do to you. You do not like other people upsetting you - so do not do things that will upset others.


Another indicator of a lack of maturity in a person's life, is a low self esteem. Sure, we are to be humble, and not look on ourselves as better than we really are, but having  low self esteem is not the way to achieve humility.

Our worth in this life, comes from what God is able to do with our life. If we will submit to the process - obey God's instructions - then our eternal life (being born of the Spirit in our third birth - John 3:6-8) is something that has lasting value.

Mat 6:19-21 NET.  "Do not accumulate for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal.  (20)  But accumulate for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.  (21)  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

If our heart is looking for ways to build up our treasures in heaven, then we will have all the self esteem that we need. Our life will have meaning, and we will not need people to "notice" us, to feel good about ourselves.

If you see someone with bits of metal stuck to their flesh, then you know immediately that they are not a mature person, and they are battling with low self esteem. They are trying to do something to be "noticed", instead of letting people "notice" their good character.

If you see a women with short dresses, and/or showing cleavage, and/or very tight fitting revealing clothes, then you know that she is trying to be "noticed". She lacks maturity and an understanding of Christian values. 

The same goes for men with necklaces, ear-rings, studs or bracelets.

Be washed (no body odours), wear clean clothes, and do not dress to attract attention.

1Ti 2:9-10 NET.  Likewise the women are to dress in suitable apparel, with modesty and self-control. Their adornment must not be with braided hair and gold or pearls or expensive clothing [done in a way to attract attention],  (10)  but with good deeds, as is proper for women who profess reverence for God.


How we argue with other people is another good way to evaluate our maturity.

As Dr Phil mentions from time to time, the rules for family "discussions" go something like this.

*  Stick to the topic.
*  Don't bring up past "sins", faults or experiences
*  Do not say anything to degrade another person, especially the person you are         'discussing" with, and their family.
*  And have your "discussions" out of ear-shot of the children.

If we can have the self-control to follow these rules when having an argument, then we are starting to show some maturity. Self-control is just one of the characteristics recommended by the Apostle Paul to be incorporated into our lives.

2Pe 1:5-7 NET.  For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith excellence, to excellence, knowledge;  (6)  to knowledge, self-control; to self-control, perseverance; to perseverance, godliness;  (7)  to godliness, brotherly affection; to brotherly affection, unselfish love [the opposite to the selfish love of a baby].

It is so easy - and human - to lash out at someone who sees things differently than we do. However a mature Christian will not let him or her self be brought down to that level.

What is maturity?

One obvious answer, is that maturity is the opposite to the immature actions we have been talking about.

Maturity is also about growing up and leaving our childhood ways behind.

1Co 14:20 NET.  Brothers and sisters, do not be children in your thinking. Instead, be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.

1Co 13:11 NET.  When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. But when I became an adult, I set aside childish ways.

This is the transition we all need to make. In our childhood we all have formed habits that reflect our childish ways. Changing those habits to Christ-like ways is what is required.

Instead of the "self" being the most important part of our life, God the Father - and doing His will - has to become the most important. for us.

Mat 12:50 NET.  For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother."

By accepting Christ's sacrifice to cover our sins, and pay the penalty in our stead, we then have our resurrection to look forward to. This gives our life value. This destroys low self esteem.

Joh 6:40 NET.  For this is the will of my Father — for everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him [is] to have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day."

By following Christ's instructions to forgive our brother [and sister], we have absolutely no reason to "attack" someone over what we perceive as their "faults".

Mat 18:35 NET.  So also my heavenly Father will do to you, if each of you does not forgive your brother from your heart."

It takes time.

Making the journey from a child to a Christ-like adult, is not easy, and it will take time.

However, if we want to achieve the maximum benefit from being born into this world, then it is a journey we must undertake.

Bob Orchard  2010

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