PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT: ATTAINING MATURITY (part 1)
By Pastor Bose Adelaja
We live in an era where things are in such a constant state of flux that if a person keeps on doing the same things as in the past, yet expect the same results, he or she will be greatly disappointed.We lose a lot by using antiquated methods to accomplish things, rather than adjusting to the times and taking advantage of new development in technology and research. If one is not willing to adjust, chances are that he or she will probably get worse results than expected while trying to change. Self-development is imperative if one is to make up for lost time. In order to catch up with time, self-development cannot be ignored. In this article, I refer to those who practice self-development as mature people. Until one is mature, he or she is not able to make some vital decisions in life. Read along as I address the importance of maturity in all aspects of life.
“Maturity is achieved when a person postpones immediate pleasures for long-term values.”
Joshua L. Liebman
Maturity is defined as adulthood, or the state of being fully developed. It is a very advanced or developed state. In psychology, maturity is the ability to respond to the environment in an appropriate manner. This response is generally learned rather than instinctive. Maturity also encompasses being aware of the correct behavior with regard to time, circumstances, and the culture of the society one lives in. The theories of adult development and maturity include the concept of a purpose in life, in which maturity underlines the clear understanding of the purpose of life, focus, and intentionality, which contributes to the feeling that life has meaning.
“It’s impossible to be mature without having lived.”
No one is born mature. We gradually mature as we grow. To be more practical, a new born baby is not expected to start walking, talking, or playing around hours after its birth. That would be an abnormal case. Medically speaking, an infant’s eye coordination alone takes three months to develop. Before a child starts walking in his first year, some development processes must have taken place in the body. The baby should at least be able to sit, crawl, stand, and then gradually learn how to take steps. It is not a onetime event.
Though we are born immature, maturity is not only highly expected of us, it is desired. The absence of maturity denotes pathology; it gives reason to question the health status of a child. If signs of growth peculiar to a particular age of a new born are absent, then the health of the newborn is questioned. The cause of this absence of growth is sought after and dealt with.
Everything that has life must grow, it must mature. That is one thing that differentiates us from non-living things. A table remains the same size as when it was purchased ten years before. On the contrary, human progress in any sphere is only monitored by growth. And our maturity is monitored by the quantity and quality of our growth. We know a seed has matured when it bears fruit. The only evidence that a seed is not still a seed is when it sprouts. There is no other way.
We cannot enjoy the fullness of life without maturity. Everyone knows that money is good; it is an essential means for survival in our world. But as important as money is, a little child does not understand its value. The child may know when given that it is money and that it can be used to make purchases but due to immaturity, he or she, at that tender age, cannot fully enjoy the benefits that having money brings.
Even if the child has access to money without understanding the true value of it, his spending will not be fruitful. A five year old who has fifty dollars all to himself has only one use for the money; to purchase sweets and candies again and again. For the child, that is the extent of his enjoyment.That may be fulfillment for him, but we know that it is very detrimental to his health. Another example could be a child of ten years of age, who is given his stipend for the week but spends it all on the first day of school. This child will still expect to have lunch every other day of the week. This is not going to be possible for him because he has not understood the value of money and its management, which includes saving.
“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.”
1 Corinthians 13:11
Just like we need to attain a certain level of maturity to be able to enjoy the fullness that wealth has to offer; we also need to be mature enough to enjoy the benefits of having good relationships. It is only when we mature that we begin to understand the importance of having good people in our lives.
In the early stages of going through disappointments in life, people tend to feel that life is better lived in isolation. With maturity however, we understand the importance of having people, and not just any people, but the right ones, in our lives. We also understand the need for connection and maintaining good relationships with contacts.
Only with maturity can we fully understand and benefit from the opportunities that life has to offer. Many people let opportunities pass them by because they are not mature enough to understand that opportunities wait for no one, and rarely can a lost opportunity be found again. Until we have matured, we cannot enjoy opportunities and its rewards. Mature people are always on the lookout for opportunities, or creating opportunities for themselves and others. The rest are always waiting for things to happen.
The brain is the most developed organ at birth but the one with the least functioning ability. We cannot explore the capacities of a newborn’s brain until the child is matured. We cannot enjoy the full benefits of our capabilities until they are developed (until they mature). You cannot enjoy a nice self-made meal without first learning how to cook. Your cooking skills need to be developed before you can enjoy a nice, self-prepared, mouth-watering meal. Every resource that exists in life cannot be benefited from without maturity. We are expected to mature in order to enjoy the fullness of life.
“Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father”
From the quote above, we see that we cannot access the benefits that life has to offer, nor can we enjoy the benefits that God has to offer, if we are not mature and have not developed ourselves. An heir as a child is the same as a slave until he is mature enough to take up his position as a master. An heir needs to be trained under the watchful eyes of stewards and guardians before he can mature into his place of authority.
What is the essence of maturity? “Why should we attain maturity?” You may wonder. The key word for maturity is independence. We aim for independence when we take on the path to maturity. The growth of a child is aimed at independence from continual support.This independence includes self-education. To be independent, we need to be knowledgeable. To be independent, we also need self-discipline, self-motivation, self-organization, self-management, self-criticism, self-defense, and all self-initiated growth development programs. We learn to take responsibility for our lives when we are mature.
Let us examine the correlation between maturity and responsibility. Responsibility is the state being accountable or to blame for something.The more mature a person is, the more responsible he becomes. A little child has nothing to be accountable for, thus he or she cannot be blamed for anything that goes wrong in the house. Normally, the older ones will be questioned when something goes amiss.
“The price of greatness is responsibility.”
Responsibility therefore makes us mature. Knowing that we are answerable has a way of forcing us to pay keen interest and take account of what we engage in. On the other hand, maturity makes us responsible. The more mature a person is, the more responsible he becomes. It is impossible to have one without the other. The two go together. The more fit a child is, the more duties and tasks he or she is assigned to.
A child is considered mature from eighteen to twenty five years of age. At this age, a child is expected to have developed (matured) in every sphere of his life. The growth of a child is not complete until this age. The brain is fully developed at this age, and its functional capacities are at their peak at this age. A child may be developed mentally at an early age, because he or she is assigned a lot of responsibilities, but physical development will still not be at its peak at this stage. So in conclusion, an all-round maturity is attained only at certain ages. The older a person is, the more mature he or she is expected to be. Therefore, maturity has a lot to do with age only if it is taken advantage of. If a child does not develop his or her mental capacities as a child then maturity cannot be attained. In this child, age will not be a determining factor for the level of maturity.
Maturity is not just physical or mental, different things add up to make it a whole. These include,p
Mental and intellectual maturity
Social maturity (adaptation)
Spiritual maturity and a lot of other spheres.