MM00060 Stages of maturity
Mentoring Manna: Stages of Maturity
© 2003 Pastor Keith Hassell
1 Corinthians 12:26-27 “And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it, or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.” As believers, we are part of something greater than ourselves. It is called the “body of Christ.” As individual members of one body, we are each uniquely gifted and yet we cannot live and function without the other parts. We need each other. However, not all believers live with this understanding. The reason is that in our spiritual growth we mature from a stage of dependence to one of independence and finally to one of interdependence.
In our infancy we live in a state of dependence upon others. This is the mindset focused on you --- you take care of me, you give to me, you help me, you let me down, you are responsible to make me happy, and you are to blame for my problems. In this state dependent people find all of their sense of value, provision, and strength in others. Dependent people are paralyzed in their ability to achieve greater things on their own. They are unable to work through problems and difficulties without the help of others. They depend upon others to get what they need and want in life. Without others, dependent people would not be able to survive.
Over time we begin to mature toward independence. We become more self-sufficient in our outlook. We value the freedom to define our own identity. We desire to launch out and experience life on our own. Independence is a mindset focused on I---I can do it myself, I don’t need you, I am able to make my own decisions, I can to run my own life, I am able to take care of myself. Independent people feel that they can get what they want in life through their own efforts. Healthy independence enables us to take charge and overcome our circumstances rather than to be controlled by them. On the other hand, unhealthy independence occurs when it develops out of reaction against a sense of control, abuse, or manipulation felt from those to whom we were once dependent. While independence is more mature than dependence, it is not the ultimate stage of maturity.
In our maturity we begin to embrace our interdependence. Dependent people don’t yet have the confidence or strength of character to walk at this level. Interdependence is a condition that only independent people can choose. Interdependent people recognize that although they can achieve a certain level of success on their own, they can achieve greater success when they combine their strengths with others. Interdependence is a mindset focused on we---we can do it, together we grow, we are able, we are a team. Interdependence is a more mature stage because it is built with people who are individually strong and capable but who also recognize that they can achieve more by working with others who are also strong and capable. They multiply their capacity by combing their own potential and resources with the vast potential and resources of others. Interdependent people can do great things alone, but they have learned the values of loving, sharing, giving, serving, supporting, encouraging, and receiving the same from others. Interdependent people understand the power of teamwork.
Are you dependent, independent, or interdependent? No matter where you are in your level of maturity, always realize that becoming part of something bigger than yourself is a key to experiencing ultimate fulfillment and success in life. Get interdependently connected to the body of Christ.
Application: One of the greatest challenges in the church today is developing maturity within its members. Too many dependent people can drain precious life and resources away from other equally important tasks. Too many independent people can rob the church of the precious gifts, abilities, and resources that it needs to function and to carry out its work. Independent people may do great things for God alone, but the results will be limited. Only as believers become interdependent can they tap into the unlimited potential and resources found in the body of Christ. Let us grow beyond dependency and rise above independency. The body needs the interdependency of all of its members!
Prayer: “Heavenly Father, help me to grow beyond my dependency upon others. Help me to rise above my own sense of independence so that I can embrace my need for others. I determine today to seek the highest good by pursuing an interdependent relationship with others in the body of Christ. As this occurs, may You grant Your people the grace to achieve greater things together than we ever could have achieved on our own. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.”