Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Becoming Emotionally Mature Takes Time

I found this article and thought I would share it with you. It helps give insight into why people do what they do.

Become Emotionally Mature
By []Paul Schlieker

What is necessary to become emotionally mature? In his classic book Dare to Discipline, Dr. James Dobson tells the story of King Frederick II, who in the 13th century conducted an experiment that involved fifty infants. The purpose of the experiment was to discover what language a baby would speak if the baby never heard a spoken word. The infants were assigned foster mothers. These care givers were permitted to bathe and feed the infants, but not talk to them. All fifty babies died. Nurturing relationships are vital to survival. An unloved child cannot make it. Likewise, in God's Kingdom the absence of nurturing love leaves people emotionally immature and stuck - unable to relate positively to God, others or themselves. All people begin their Christian life with some "emotional baggage."

Some mistakenly assume that they are the only ones born into a dysfunctional family. The reality is that all families are broken and marred by the effects of sin. Although our families of origin and other traumatic life experiences have left an imprint on our lives, it is important that we not see ourselves as total victims. We cannot become emotionally mature if we adopt a "victim" mindset. Joseph initially believed his brothers sold him to Egypt. Years later he realized that God sent him to save lives (Genesis 45:7). From the time they sold him, until Joseph was reunited with his brothers, twenty-two years passed. This fact alone helps us realize how much time it takes to process certain events in our life. By coming to terms with God's providential plan, Joseph matured into a spiritual and emotional adult.

Followers of Jesus are at various levels of emotional maturity. Some are insecure and needy; others seem confident and self assured. Regardless of background or experiences, all people have inadequate images of God, distorted views of themselves and unhealthy ways of relating to others. Discipleship training must address this part of our humanity because it's impossible to be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature. To become emotionally mature disciples we must first identify and address unhealthy tendencies.

One key to Jesus' maturity was integrating truth and love. The child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom and the grace of God was upon him (Luke 2:40). This verse provides a pattern for all of Christ's followers to imitate. To further help you understand how to grow into an emotional adult, I highly recommend Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, by Peter Scazzero. In fact, this book is one of my favorites. Scazzero writes, "It is easy to grow physically into a chronological adult. It is quite another to grow into an emotional adult. Many people may be, chronologically, forty-five years old but remain an emotional infant, child or adolescent." In future articles I will offer more ideas for growing up emotionally. In the meantime, be patient with yourself and those you are discipling. Understand that emotional maturity comes from the right mix of grace, truth and time.

Paul Schlieker disciples internationals and business professionals. He attends Christ Community Church in Omaha, Nebraska. Professionally, Paul is an insurance agent. He and his wife, Peggy have written several easy to use discipleship tools and Bible studies that train believers, introduce Christianity to seekers, and ground believers in Biblical fundamentals. Learn more about these resources at Subscribe to a free monthly e-newsletter, read more articles by Paul and hear his sermons at

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1 comment:

Tracy said...

I really agree that all of us came from families where the effect of sin made it "dysfunctional" to some degree or another. I'm glad that our God is the Blessed Controller and we can count on Him to work all things together for our good!