For most of us that have been around awhile we come to realize it takes a long time to grow up—not only biologically, but mentally, to mature
Here's the good news: unlike other species, we are not restrained by our instincts alone. We are able to learn from our parents, our experiences, our culture and the bible.
“These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come.” - 1 Corinthians 10:11
Here's the bad news: Nobody matures without effort. It doesn't happen naturally. It takes a lot of hard work. You have to read the bible.
But what does it mean to be "mature?"
There are five characteristics of maturity. If you work to possess them all, you will have a happier, deeper, and more productive life in Christ.
One: Self Control
You had no choice when you were born, or where you were born, or who your parents would be. But with each year of childhood you grow. With this growth you develop more of capacity to chart your own course. Society and destiny play a role, however, you can cultivating your ability and willingness to make your own decisions, expands your ability to influence how your life unfolds.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” – James 1:2-4
The only way to achieve maturity is to take charge of your life. Nothing strengthens you as much as exercising that control. Refusing to act, waiting to be rescued and seeing yourself as a victim are sure signs of immaturity and a lack of growth.
Two: Taking Responsibility.
This comes at us in two ways.
The first way is simply to acknowledge that you’re responsible for what you do. If you make a mistake, acknowledge it. Don't make excuses and don't blame others. This is an easy thing to say, but we all know it's very hard to do however, a mature person does it. A mature person takes responsibility.
Second, is the willingness to take on commitments and fulfill them. For example, I got married and took on commitments to my wife and children. I have ethical obligations to my friends and my work, even on days that I might not feel like it. A mature person doesn't see commitments as burdens but as something we willingly accept and see through to fulfillment.
Three: Managing Emotions.
We should never ignore your emotions, but you have to learn to manage them. One of the responsibilities of parenting is to help our children manage their emotions. They don’t know how because they are immature that’s why we are their maturity for a season. Like children immature people lash out at their boss or their coworker or others if something doesn't go their way, or argue with their spouse when they come home, or turn to alcohol or drugs or kick their dog because of a rough day.
Maturity can be measured by how much anxiety we can tolerate without acting out inappropriately against ourselves or others. Mature people express their emotions in the right place, at the right time, in the right way. Profanity is a sign of acting inappropriate.
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” - Ephesians 4:29
We are emotional beings, but we should never let go of the steering wheel; that is, we need to learn how and when to manage our emotions.
Four: Having Perspective.
An immature teenager will regard a pimple as a catastrophic eruption of Mt. Vesuvius or will regard rejection by a girlfriend or boyfriend as the end of the world. Maturity comes from putting disappointments into perspective.
The reason we forgive children and teenager's overreaction is because we understand it's probably the first time it's happened. But life's disappointments don't stop when you turn 21. Far from it. Disappointments of every variety, great and small, happen throughout life. The mature person learns from them and gets stronger each time they recover. This kind of mature thinking is best expressed in 2 Corinthians 4:18 “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
Perspective also means that when we are upset with someone dear to us, we have to put that negative experience in the context of the entire relationship. Immature people demonize a friend or a relative they are upset with, and forget or ignore all the love and good experiences they once had. Mature people see the whole picture—not only the good, and not only the bad.
Five: Deeper Understanding.
This takes the concept of empathy to a higher level. Beyond tuning in to another's feelings, this is about comprehending the ways in which another's ideas and behaviors make sense to them. You don't have to agree with that person, but you need to be able to get inside their thinking. You need to understand why they believe what they believe.
A good way to do this is to repeat what a person has said back to them. "Is this what you meant?" If they say "yes it is," then you know, and they know, that you've reached a deeper understanding. This kind of understanding, by the way, is indispensable to achieving true intimacy. It explains why the mature person is able to have more intimate relationships than the immature person ever will.
Taking control. Taking responsibility. Managing your emotions. Having perspective. Achieving deep understanding—these are five characteristics of maturity.
Together they can lead you to a deeper and happier life in Christ and with others.
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control..." - Galatians 5:22-23