7 Steps to Spiritual Maturity
Part of this sounds like John Eldredge . . . part like Andy Stanley, and part of it definitely came from me . . . I’m not sure. But read it and see if it resonates with you.
Step 1 – Beloved son – The childhood innocence most of us felt until (maybe) 5th grade? Freedom. Unconsciously incompetent. We didn’t know, but we didn’t need to know.
Step 2 – Dissonance – The “father wound,” the bully, the crushing criticism you didn’t see coming. The world isn’t safe after all. Now I’m consciously incompetent . . . I know I don’t have what it takes. There’s a tension that’s put me on my quest. The world is raw and real. Innocence is gone. Puberty and middle school are here.
Step 3 – Chasing acceptance – I’ve got to prove myself. I start a band, go out for basketball, get my first job, car and Izod shirt. If I could just be cool enough, smart enough, funny enough, popular enough, the question would go away. But it’s just not going to happen, at least not for me . . . not right now. I’m a cowboy, chasing after acceptance from everyone, especially the cowgirls.
Step 4 – Validation – I level out. I find things that work for me . . . that validate me. Test scores confirm I’m (sort of) smart. My drive fuels me toward success. It’s performance-based. “I can do this.” Down deep, a lingering fear of being "seen through" and being "found out." The Warrior stage.
Step 5 – Disruption – Something big happens. It’s beyond my ability to control, maybe for the first time. Wife leaves, get fired, get caught, get busted, get passed over for the promotion, kid flames out, IRS shows up. Return to the dissonance, but this time with experience. Deep, deep tension. Who am I? What am I doing? Where am I going? What do I stand for? What really matters?
This is the climax moment in your story. How you respond here sets the trajectory and quality of your remaining life. Choose to keep on working, but harder, divorce and find someone else, become cynical. Bitter. Check out.
or . . .
Trust God. Believe you’re loved by Him. Forgiven by Him. Accepted by Him. Unconditionally. He actually likes you! Do a 180 and relax in your own skin. Start to give grace to others as He’s given grace to you. New life entirely. Do over.
Step 6 – Settle in – The dissonance is resolved . . . or put to rest. People and relationships start to matter most. You flourish, become a lover of God and of people. The tension is gone. You’ve settled the self-esteem issue. The "king" years follow as your career peaks, your marriage matures, your kids grow up and leave, and your heart starts turning further beyond "me and mine."
Step 7 – Elder – Peace is here and just in time. Your parents need help, as do your newly independent kids. You give it wisely and with confidence, not from fear of messing up. There’s a selflessness in you, birthed during the disruption stage when you couldn’t solve your own problem. Gratitude becomes your theme . . . you’ve been blessed and want to be a blessing to others. Sage.
Question: At which step are you? Did you miss it at Disruption? Have you regretted it ever since? You may not be able to put the toothpaste back in the tube at work or with your family, but you can choose that other response right now. You will never regret accepting God’s unconditional love and forgiveness. There’s no other life.