Monday, February 4, 2008

Four Levels of Maturity: Adolescence, Part I


One word not connected to anything else, and yet it evokes detailed images, mixed emotions, and vivid memories. It doesn’t matter if you’re barely past those years or if sixty years of experiences lie between. For many people, the teenage years are some of the most powerful and influential.


The years directly proceeding adulthood are full of growing freedom and lessening parental supervision. A driver’s license provides mobility. Jobs increase financial freedom. Physical growth and deepening knowledge grant teens the independence to do and think for themselves.

No longer the imitators of childhood, adolescences want to experiment with doing things their way to find an identity, to discover their gifts, to develop a style unique to them.

And within the proper parameters, this independence is good, a necessary stage of growth. Without it, we would have a world of copy-cats, unable to create, explore, invent, or even lead. We would become directionless, bland automatons.

So how do teenagers learn? Like children, largely by doing. But now instead of imitation, it is through experimentation. Teens want to test, not be told what to do, because for them, the sky—no, the infinite universe is the limit.

Teenage Christians

Like their physical counterparts, adolescent Christians explore a lot. They know enough Christian doctrine and Scripture to glimpse the freedoms and endless possibilities of Christianity.

Spiritual gifts play an important role at this stage, as teen Christians also seek to find their place, not so much in society as in the body of Christ. They know they are unique, but they aren’t always sure how or in what way their gifts/passions/talents fit into the larger scheme. Often they jump from ministry to ministry as they seek the best fit.

Expansion and vision are also increasingly important to this group of Christians. They have tasted the possibility of what God can do (not necessarily will do), and now their enthusiasm drives them to try a whole feast. They are ready and able to do Big Things for God.


None of these characteristics of adolescence (physical or spiritual) are wrong in themselves. Rather they are very needed and healthy. But like most characteristics, each brings a dark side of dangers.

But more on that next week.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Chawna, it sounds as though you write the same sort of things that I do. To quote from your profile, "Outcasts...and the impossible odds they face. If you tell me one of your titles, I'll see if it's available in Australia, read it and tell you what I think. Would you consider reading my novel, "Outcasts of Skagaray", by Andrew Clarke, and telling me what you think of it? I would be interested to hear.