Monday, October 15, 2007

Maturity and Personal Limitations: What’s the difference?

A four-year-old cannot reach the highest kitchen cupboards. An 84-year-old gives up her driver’s license due to poor eyesight. A new Christian gifted in teaching learns under the tutelage of another before taking on his own class.

In each case, maturity and personal limitations cross, to the point where it’s sometimes hard to tell where one ends and another begins. Therefore, I thought it apropos that we start with a basic definition of each, to help guide us through our coming study.

Maturity: Progressive levels of growth which most people pass through.

Maturity includes emotional, mental, and spiritual development. We all start out as babies, grow into children, mature throughout the teen years, and finally reach adulthood. Each of these stages comes with special problems and freedoms.

Likewise, when we become Christians, none of us start out as fully mature, adult Christians. Rather we begin as babies on milk and mature until we can eat the meat of Scripture. And like our emotional and mental development, each stage of growth comes with special problems and freedoms.

Personal Limitations: Special problem areas specific to an individual.

This covers basically anything else not marked out by the other two areas. These gray spots are generally okay for most people, but are wrong for you due to a personal variable. After all, God didn’t make any two people exactly alike—even twins will have different personalities.

Most of these variables can be divided into four basic categories:

Relational Basis: gender, marriage and family status (e.g. a male has a different perspective than a female; singles face different temptations than happily married couples.)

Culture: occupation and location (e.g. a housewife in Utah will be sensitive to different issues than an actor on Broadway or a rancher in Montana.)

Past Experiences: anything you’ve experienced in the past (e.g. someone with a history of abuse or dabbling in witchcraft will need extra protection when reading fiction with those topics.)

Personality: Quirks, gifts, weakness, strengths, etc. (e.g. an overactive imagination, a tendency toward a certain type of addiction, a gift of discernment or knowledge.)

As you can already see, these categories crisscross each other—maturity affects marriage status (or am I the only one who thinks six-year-olds marrying isn’t a good idea?), and marriage status affect past experiences, and past experiences help shape personality and can in turn influence occupational choice. However, for the sake of clarity, we will study each area separately in the coming weeks.

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