The Maturity Question
Thinking about the concept of “maturity,” I have really been considering my character development lately in my experience of it and how I define it, and of course how it has either changed for the better or worse over the last 12 months. A mature person is often thought of as a person who knows the wise thing to do under duress. In the banking industry, we often look at the concept of stress testing as a way to analyze and determine how much negative economic shock our capital and loan portfolio can withstand. This is a great concept to forecast the impact of how a deep recession or a shock to the economy will affect the bank’s ability to perform.
Personally, I think that 2020 and 2021 (so far) has given me reason to consider this time we are living in as a type of “character stress test”. Our world is shouldering the burden of a pandemic, our country is working its way through a divisive political climate, and it appears that people all around are just plain unhappy.
Book studies, podcasts, and self-help groups are not necessarily the answer. Book studies, podcasts, and self-help groups have their place, they’re not all bad, but they are not the absolute. Lately, it seems as though every self-help book expert and pastor thinks they have the market cornered on how to grow a person’s character development. What if instead of reading an extra book or listening to one more podcast we take a break from our phone and find time to do some self-reflection to consider what I am doing to grow my character.
And, when it comes to character development, what do we make of Jesus? What do we make of his teaching, his actions, his relationships, and his personality with a sense of humor that also has a deep chord of compassion? What do we make of him and what do we do with him? I believe that Jesus is the one and only true expert when it comes to reveling in questions about maturity or the deep need to consider our character development.
Maybe I need to consider how Jesus would analyze and stress test my own character development. What would he say? What insight would he offer? Maybe he would suggest that I turn to him through reading the Bible and reflecting on his life, work, and ministry found in the Gospels.
As followers of Christ, I think it’s impossible to consider maturity and character development without considering the shameless compassion and teaching our Jesus, our God in the flesh who is teaching us today through his written word and the person of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.
Gracious and loving God, help us to turn to You and seek to find your presence in the midst of a stressful life that we find ourselves in today. Help me to remember and keep you in the top of mind and the depths of my fearful and confused heart. Help me. Help me. Help me. In your name, Amen.
Written by Matt Clay
Matt and his wife Joanna have two young daughters, Emery and Madisen. The Clays have been members of the Sheridan community since 2014.
Matt’s spiritual growth has been influenced by the teaching of the late Dallas Willard, which led Matt to pursue an M.A. in Spiritual Formation from Spring Arbor University.
Matt works full-time in the financial industry and believes that God has called him to be a steward of His grace and presence in the marketplace.