Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Spiritual Maturity vs Maturing Spiritually

From The Slow Fade (Reggie Joiner, Chuck Bomar, and Abbie Smith) on the difference between spiritual maturity and maturing spiritually in mentoring relationships:
Spiritual maturity is a phrase used as a measuring stick, attempting to quantify how committed someone is to God. To arrive at this standard, we hold the measuring stick up to ourselves; we measure where we are in a few key areas and tell someone else to get to that place. While there are many problems with this, the main one is that we assume the place we are is the place God has in mind for someone else. If God is telling a unique story through a set of unique experiences in each individual, how can we ever determine spiritual maturity?

....[We] celebrate with them as they mature spiritually, not just when they arrive at being spiritually mature. Helping people mature spiritually doesn’t have an agenda, while helping people become spiritually mature based on our standards does. When we are helping people mature spiritually, we are helping them discover the next step God is invited them to take. This may become difficult when there are obvious areas that need changing. In those moments, we have to remember that mentoring is an act of faith, we are trusting God to carry them to completion, and we have respect for the story He might be telling in their lives. Our role is to celebrate the steps they are taking, not highlight the ones they haven’t. (pgs 64-66, emphasis mine)
Spiritual maturity is results-oriented. Maturing spiritually is process-oriented.

Spiritual maturity views discipleship as a project to undertake. Maturing spiritually views discipleship as people to lovingly guide.

Spiritual maturity is mentor-centered--the mentor must make every effort to drive and push the mentee to further measurable spiritual growth. Maturing spiritually is God-centered--the mentor must be fully present and listening for the Spirit's leading in order to join the story God is already telling in the mentee's life.

Maybe our language and paradigm about spiritual maturity needs to shift towards maturing spiritually.

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