Lessons of the Year #2: I have to grow up…again and again and again

Working for CCW over the last year has been a whirlwind of joys and pains. God has used the good days to encourage me and the tough days to teach me. I talked yesterday about confessing the truth that I am limited. I am not invincible so I have to take care of my body, get rest, eat well, etc. I am 32 years old now, not 20…and my age is not a mere detail. Confessing I am limited actually led me to a surprising revelation which is the next lesson.

Lesson #2: I have to grow up…again and again and again.

Up until this last year, I kind of saw maturity as a one time event with a few booster shots along the way. Growing up seemed like a static moment in a person’s life that once achieved, one would not need to revisit. Truth be told, this belief made it easier to say ‘I do not know what I am doing with my life’ and hope for that growing up moment to come at some point in my mid-thirties. At first, admitting that “I am limited” felt like freedom from major responsibilities and decisions that needed to be made. What I quickly discovered though, was believing that I was invincible and did not need to observe my God-given limits was actually rooted in immaturity.

What I am learning is this: maturity is an extremely dynamic process, not a static, one time event. The encouragement in Hebrews 6:1 to move on towards maturity is spot on partly because it suggests that maturity requires movement in a direction.  Although we will never fully get there (to maturity) on earth, the journey towards it is worth it. If anything, immaturity is much more of a static and inert way of being. When we refuse to grow up and live into the transitions that come with life, we are essentially standing still in our immaturity versus moving on to maturity. This revelation has absolutely changed my perspective on my life and also on my ministry to young adults.

Several days ago, I posted a tweet that raised a few eye-brows: When we refuse to grow up, we also forfeit the rights and privileges that come with maturity. Age is not an accidental, insignificant detail. I am convinced that God has given us the ability to count our birthdays for the sake of marking out a path of maturity. As the expectation on a 6 year old is different from what we expect of  a 10 year old, I believe the move towards maturity must be more evident for someone in their mid-thirties than for the person turning 21. God knew exactly what He was doing when He ordained my birth for 1980. Therefore, my response to God’s sovereignty (my age) is indicative of my faith and trust in Him. Will I live as a 32 year old, or remain stuck in my twenties and further complicate my life? The choice to be 32 is a dynamic and motivating choice, and not as limiting as I perceive it to be.

This may seem like a trivial thing to some of you. Especially if you are a little ( or not so little) bit past the early thirties. But for me, embracing my age and moving to maturity reaffirmed my limitations and need for God to be my all-sustaining power and source. It also forced me to make some tough, but needed relational decisions. I had to come to terms with being a thirty-something, single guy whose peers were married and starting families. I had to start thinking about saving my money (because retirement could be 40 years away). Most importantly, I had to ask the question that 1 Corinthians 13:11 begs: what are the childish (maybe even twenty-something) things that I need to give up so that I can be a man. I am working on it…growing up a little more every day and embracing the truth that when I turn 40, acting like I am 32 will both socially and spiritually unacceptable.

The college-aged young adults that I have responsibility for in CCW may not know this, but one of the best things I can do for them is move on to maturity and embrace each season that has been planned for me. The worst thing I could do is act as if I were the same age as those entering college. This is true for all of us. Sometimes, the worst thing a parent can do is attempt to hold onto their thirties when their kids need to see a faithful response to God from a 45 year old.

For me, learning this lesson has been critical because there are hundreds of children, youth, and young adults looking to me week after week for leadership, guidance, advice and an example worth following. To not take that seriously is to devalue every single one of them. This thought will take me to my third and final lesson of the year. Thanks for reading and see you tomorrow.

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