Don’t Confuse Maturity with Stagnation
I have noticed over the years that successful people, regardless of what they do, are constantly striving to get smarter, better and more effective and less successful people think they already know everything.
It is the same with our spiritual lives. A lot of people categorize Christians on a linear spectrum that has Mature on one end and Immature on the other but I think that is a bit dangerous. Not to Immature folks, they are just fine, but for the folks who have determined they are Mature. Just what does that mean? Does it mean you have arrived? You have it all, you’ve got it all and boom-shaka-laka school is out forever?
I don’t want to sound harsh but some of the most prideful, mean spirited, judgmental and un-Christlike people I have ever met would have been the first to tell you they were Mature Christians. The old Methodists felt how far along the Christian journey you were was not nearly as important as which direction you are headed.
I tend to categorize the spectrum with Growing on one end and Stagnated on the other. Here are my observations:
Characteristics of Growing Christians
1. Passionate about Jesus: Palatable excitement
2. Launching into Deeper Water: Engaged in things to stretch them, shove on them and make them better
3. Constantly Giving Jesus More: Learn more, give more, serve more, stretch more and live more
4. Humility: They compare themselves only with God
5. Teachable Spirit: Know they need to learn
Characteristics of Stagnated Christians
1. Lack of Passion for Jesus: Whatever it is that excites them these days, it isn’t Jesus
2. Frozen Discipleship: Level of commitment, giving, service, involvement or discipleship hasn’t increased in years
3. Lack of Increased Effort: Doing what they have always done, reading what they have always read, praying what they have always prayed; coasting, mailing it in
4. Prideful: They compare themselves with others
5. Critical Spirit: Think they know it all.
I feel that a new Christian growing is in far better position with God than a lifelong Christian who is stagnated.
Are you growing or are you stagnated?
-Rev. Shane L. Bishop, a Distinguished Evangelist of the United Methodist Church, is the Sr. Pastor of Christ Church in Fairview Heights, Illinois.