“Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.“ Ephesians 4:14-16
It’s the goal of Christian life to grow up and become more and more like Christ. This is true of the Church, Christ’s body, and also for each of us as individuals. I’m currently reading a book (is anyone out there surprised?) called And Then We Grew Up by Rachel Friedman. It’s not Christian, but it made me think about this topic. When Rachel was a youngster, she played the Viola and was very good. She even went to a summer camp specifically geared toward music and other creative arts. She dreamed of becoming a professional musician, but in college she became so anxious about performing that she quit. Years later, as a writer she decides to investigate other children who went to the same camp to see how and if they fulfilled their creative potential.
Here are some of the things she learned about growing up and becoming a successful adult, along with my comments about how we can use them as we follow the pilgrim path.
- Self- discipline — if you want to be good at something, you have to put in the hours. Some studies say it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become very proficient at an activity. If applied to Christian living, sitting in church for an hour a week won’t cut it!
- Balance — Rachel found that some of her classmates gave up the idea of an artistic career when they found it impossible to lead a balanced life — home, friends, children– and still succeed. As Christians, we’re not called to neglect our families, friends and jobs. This means that at different seasons of our life, we’ll do different things in the church. When I had children, I was on the altar guild — a job that allowed me to do the work on my own schedule, and alone. Later as they grew older, I could serve on the Council, attend more Bible studies, etc..
- Flexibility–the first career path some of Rachel’s friends tried didn’t always work out. We need to be willing to try different ways to serve, study and pray until we find the one that fits our personality and schedule.
- Know yourself— (this goes with the comment on flexibility). The more we know about our own aptitudes and temperament, the better we’ll be able to decide what to do, how to study, when to pray — sometimes this comes through trial and error (flexibility) but we can help that along by taking a Spiritual Gift Assessment or using other similar tools.
- Take risks–sometimes we must be willing to step out in faith and take a risk. This could mean being willing to feel foolish the first time we pray out loud, committing more than we can easily afford to a worthy ministry, or trying out a task that feels a bit scary
- Find a companion — it helps to have a friend to work with us, encourage us and help us. In the church this should be a no-brainer. We are meant to be one body and do our part, not all the parts of Christ’s work on earth.
- Maintain focus — God called us to be faithful, not successful. If you’re doing the right thing, the thing you love, worldly standards of success become less important.
This one’s not in the book, but for Christians:
- Depend on Christ — He is our strength and our God. We can’t accomplish anything without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit
Are you on the way to fulfilling your potential in God’s Kingdom? Have you grown up yet?
For more posts on maturing as a Christian, see these: