Tag Archives: maturity

Losing Your Church’s Training Wheels

Tuesday Re-mix:

We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand.  In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!  Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.  But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.  Hebrews 5:11-14

training wheelsIt is kind of a big moment in a child’s life, going from three (or four) wheels to just two…going from the tricycle (or bicycle with training wheels) to a bicycle.  “Look Dad, I’m a big girl now!”  It is a big deal because it is a big adjustment.  It is not just about balance.  It is about forward motion.  It is an entirely different mindset.

After all, that is the biggest difference between a bike with training wheels and one without…you can sit on a bike with training wheels and not move at all.  You can just sit there and be pretty and comfortable and cool, never moving forward, never taking a risk, never changing a thing.  But as soon as those training wheels come off, that option (sitting still) is off the table.  You see, with the growth from child into maturity, there comes a requirement of constant forward progress, continuous pressing ahead without long stops, without sitting still and being comfortable, and without growing content where you are.

It really is a very different way of being, a totally different philosophy.  It is a new mindset, a new frame of reference.  Constant forward movement means leaning against the very human tendency …

I Want Maturity (and I Want it Now)

Thursday Re-mix:

Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, “What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?” His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind. Genesis 37:9-11

Old and youngMaybe it was youthful arrogance that made Joseph share his dreams with his family.  Or maybe it was just youthful ignorance of how it would be received by them.  Either way, it was not a problem with telling the truth; rather, it was just an ill-conceived manner of handling the truth.  In a word, it was immaturity.

Just a couple of chapters later, after some hard life experiences and some growing up, we see Joseph making much wiser decisions.  Life has a way of doing that to all of us.  When I think back to the naive and arrogant young leader I was 20-30 years ago ,well, it is a bit embarrassing.  Maturity, alas, cannot be learned from books or from classrooms.  Moreover, it almost always requires a generous measure of time and experience.

It is worth noting that Joseph was actually wise beyond his years.  By most standards, he is the model character in God’s story.  He is, from the beginning, a young man of integrity and high character.  His gift of interpreting dreams elevated him to leadership heights at a reasonably young age.  But his youthful faux pas were glaring and ended up costing him years of heartache and hard knocks.  In short, for leaders among …

Breast-feeding the Church

Tuesday Re-mix –

My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you.  What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.”…Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ.  I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready.  You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans?  For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere human beings?  1 Corinthians 1:11-12; 3:1-4

The milk/solid food metaphor was apparently popular in the early church.  Paul used it.  The writer of Hebrews used it.  Peter used it.  Some metaphors just work so well, they “catch on” and make the rounds, I suppose.  It strikes me that this metaphor probably conjured up different images for the early church than it does for us today.  When we think of babies drinking milk today, we may have images of bottles or sippy cups going through our minds.  But in the days of the early church, I suspect the images were more of babies breast-feeding or perhaps of baby animals being fed by their mother.  It was the very natural process of the mother digesting the solid food for the babies and then passing it on to them through her milk.  Bottom line: being on a milk diet was the most helpless, immature form of existence.

Another interesting thing about this metaphor is that, when you or I read it in scripture, …

God, Google, and Magic 8 Balls

Tuesday Re-mix – 

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. James 3:17

Do you remember Magic 8 Balls?  I do…that awesome Mattel toy (wow, just the name Mattel conjures up so many exciting feelings for several generations of Americans…Barbie dolls, Hot Wheels, Matchbox cars, and all those games!) that would answer any question you have about anything!  Ask it any “yes” or “no” question and then shake it and, voilà, the answer would magically appear in the little window.  “It is decidedly so”, “signs point to yes”, “Don’t count on it”, “Ask again later”…it was all very simple, really.  We liked that about it.  We got to set the agenda, we got to ask the questions we wanted answered…and if we didn’t like the answer, we could just shake it and ask again!

We’ve grown up now and we no longer rely on Magic 8 Balls to answer all our pressing questions.  We realize, of course, how silly we were when we did that.  Now, we have something much more powerful, something much more completely accurate to answer all our questions.  Now we have the internet.  The process still works the same way, of course, because it is a process we like, one we get to control.  We simply log on and Google whatever our question is and, voilà, the answer magically appears on our screen.  We like getting wisdom that way.  It appeals to us.  We set the agenda, we ask the questions, and we get the answer.  We are powerful.

It is this notion of being in control and powerful, I think, that makes it so difficult for us to embrace the Bible (or a walk with …