I wear many hats: wife, author, boss, friend, daughter, teacher, professional coffee drinker, and now momma. I’ve been gigging at this motherhood thing for nearly twenty months now. Twenty months of the most life-altering, heart-wrenching, joy-filled, bone-weary job I’ve ever known … and I LOVE EVERY MINUTE of it.
I vividly recall during pregnancy being gripped with fear at the incredible responsibility that would soon be placed in my arms. The thought of raising a child and not totally screwing her up freaked me out. I told a friend of mine, “I feel more capable of being air-dropped into Afghanistan and finding my way out in the midst of a Taliban gun battle than I do in raising a baby.”
I’ve always been prone to the dramatic.
God doesn’t wait for us to be ready to stretch us. Ready or not, in November of 2016, my full on education into the world of motherhood began. I’ve learned that He equips us in the midst of the mess. Now that I’m well into this motherhood thing, I’ve discovered it is not something we learn from books; this is a hands-on, learn as we go, trial and error business.
I’ll be honest, every three months when we take Sydney to her pediatrician checkup, I walk into the doctors’ office expecting her to give me a lollypop and a sticker because …
- my child is in one piece and …
- I am still in one piece.
I kid, but seriously. The baby gets shots, and we get nothing for all the sleepless nights and ceaseless prayers asking Jesus to take the wheel.
The best thing about the quarterly pediatrician checkup is learning the developmental milestones Sydney should achieve at each particular stage. My doctor even hands me a little checklist of things to look for and how to handle various developments.
For a child, growth is the expectation. Over a few short months, babies mature from helpless little 8 pound infants to 28-pound toddlers bent on demolishing every single thing in their path. As I’ve watched in wonder as my little girl has matured through infancy to the fantastic adventure of toddlerhood, I can’t help but think about spiritual maturity. Just as a good parent is thrilled to see their child develop new skills, our Heavenly Father delights as we grow and mature in our faith.
The Bible is clear that spiritual maturity is the expectation not the exception for all Christians. Just as a baby is born and then begins to grow, so we too, are “born again” into God’s family, and we then start to mature as a child of God. Although this is the expectation, often many Christians get stuck and don’t progress in their faith.
In 2 Peter chapter 1, the Apostle outlines some “spiritual milestones” that should increase in our lives if we are indeed children of God. These milestones are not as a legalistic check-list wherein we strive to perfect ourselves. Instead, these qualities are the evidence that a person is spiritually maturing.
His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.
Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
–2 Peter 1:3-11
Just as my daughter Sydney no longer behaves like an infant, but she has progressed to a thriving and busy toddler, born-again believers should also mature spiritually beyond their initial conversion. The evidence of this growth is the qualities listed in 2 Peter: “faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, godliness, and love.” Ironically, I’ve met teenagers who are more spiritually mature than some older adults I know. Spiritual maturity is not about a specific age; it is 100% about growing in our relationship with God. I assume if you’ve stuck with me this far then you are someone who wants to mature in her faith. Here are five keys to spiritual maturity that I’m applying to my own life:
5 KEYS TO SPIRITUAL MATURITY
1. The Word—In 1st Peter we are told that we grow in our faith by drinking the “pure milk of God’s word.” The analogy is clear and one I’ve witnessed with my own eyes. Infants are nourished with milk, and the result is tremendous transformation! Those tiny fingers and toes and legs and limbs begin to grow, stretch, and develop from simply drinking milk! It is not a coincidence that the Bible describes itself as the “pure milk” for our spiritual growth. For a believer to mature in her faith, she must feed herself the Word of God on a daily basis. It is not enough to go to church or Bible study once a week. That would be like eating a meal on Sunday and then starving for the remainder of the week. We must daily feed ourselves the Word of God if we expect to grow and mature in our faith.
2. Christ-centered Community –I can testify from personal experience that nothing in the world has fostered spiritual maturity in my life more than surrounding myself with other Christ-followers who love Jesus, fear God, and desire to live for His glory. When we surround ourselves with a Christ-centered community then we invite accountability, we are challenged to know God more, and we have relationships with people who will pray for us when trials or temptations occur. Indeed, we are better together.
3. Walk in the Holy Spirit – Jesus called the Holy Spirit our “Helper.” He is the one who comes alongside us and helps us in our weaknesses. The Holy Spirit is the one who transforms us from the inside out to act, think, and love like Jesus. As we keep in step with God’s Spirit, He matures us and produces the Christ-like qualities in us. We must daily ask the Spirit of God to lead, guide, and direct our paths and to conform us into the image of Christ.
4. Surrender – In the Kingdom of God, victory comes through surrender. Only when we surrender to God’s will and walk in His ways, do we begin to experience the abundant life Jesus promised. As we yield our will to God’s will, then we begin to exhibit the fruit of the Spirit. Obedience is merely surrendering to God. Through these moments of surrender, we grow and mature. As John Bevere writes, “Physical maturity is bound to time. Spiritual maturity is bound to obedience.”
5. Humility – the most significant hindrance to spiritual maturity is pride. Pride lies to us and tells us that we are doing just fine. Pride compares itself to someone else instead of looking at the perfection of Jesus. Pride blinds us to our areas of weakness. On the other hand, humility is the key to maturity because it keeps us daily living in desperation for Jesus and clinging tightly to Him for everything. The mature person is one who recognizes “apart from Jesus I can do nothing.”
As a mom, I’m tempted to hold my baby and wish she would stay little forever. Then I think about all the incredible things Jesus has planned for her and I know that as much as I love the cuddles and cuteness that come with this age, I do want her to grow up into a mature woman who loves Jesus and lives for His glory.
Friends, the same is true of us. All of heaven is cheering us on as we mature in our faith. God, our Heavenly Father, watches over us and loves us as we develop from infants into mighty women of God who are capable to lead, teach, and shepherd others.
Marian Jordan Ellis