I can almost remember back when I was a very small child. It was a time that I had little to zero responsibilities. Ok maybe I don't remember but I have kids of my own now and at times I live vicariously though them. At least the one's that don't have many responsibilities. But of course as you grew up you began to take on things. Maybe it started off with taking the trash out every week. So you had to remember that Monday night was trash night. Or maybe it was as simple as brushing your teeth. No matter what it was, you were expected to do these things on your own without anyone telling you. This is part of growing up. Of course the Toys R Us commercials didn't help my generation. We had an anthem. "I DON'T WANNA GROW UP. I'M A TOYS R US KID..." Go ahead. Finish the song.
I believe there are stages of growing in life and in our walk with God. Looking back on when I was a kid and as a new Christian I have noticed some similarities.
One of the first stages that happens is DISCIPLINE. As a parent I realized one of the words that is most said to my children is the word "NO". This usually comes out of my mouth when I do not want my child to do something. Usually what would follow is a disciplinary tone as a result of me saying that "NO". It is me as a parent warning them that the action they took is not ok. Of course if they are little babies the discipline is very little to none but as they grow up it becomes more severe. As a new Christian discipline typically comes from the Holy Spirit. It is that "NO" you hear in your heart. That is is the warning sign to prevent you from acting or moving forward before the consequence is too severe. In Proverbs 15:32 it says "If you reject discipline, you only harm yourself; but if you listen to correction, you grow in understanding.". I don't know about you but I am listening to correction!
Next stage is DIRECTION. Typically when discipline comes it is usually followed up with direction or advice. It may sound like this as a child. "Don't stick a fork in that light socket. You will get shocked. Instead use that fork to pick up your food," As you grow up direction becomes more and more precise and clear. This helps you make wiser choices and better educated decisions in life. As a new Christian the Holy Spirit doesn't just correct but gives direction as well. If you listen. Proverbs 3:5-6 is all about trusting God in ALL YOUR WAYS. This will give your direction.
Last stage is one of my favorite stages of growing up. DEPOSIT stage. This is the stage where encouragement, wisdom and training enter. I now have teenagers that I am raising and they are receptors of wisdom, encouragement and training as they are growing up in my household. This doesn't mean the other stages are irrelevant. But I believe these are the deposits that stick around a long time and have a great return on investment. As a new Christian this stage is vital to your growth. This stage will launch you into your destiny and help you become all that you are designed to be.
One thing about growing up that usually isn't much fun are the growing pains. If you think of it as making progress the growing pains become worth it. I usually tell my kids or people I pastor that if you are experiencing growing pains then something is working. Just like you workout muscles, they become sore but in time are being built back up and becoming stronger, so is your faith in God. Nobody said living for God would be easy, yet we get to rely on strength that comes from God instead of our own! That is good news!
Instead of saying "I don't want to grow up" let's look at HOW we can grow up using scripture out of Collosians 2.
- Never stop loving Jesus
- Always be thankful
- Work on having good character
- Knowledge! Improve your spiritual understanding
- Practice self-control. Discipline yourself
- Passionate patience.
- Reverent wonder
- Be a good friend to all
- Generously love all