"I always know a mature, wise person by how "comfortably unsure" they are of things - not in a cynical, pessimistic, self-deprecating kind of way, but in an open, inquisitive, delightedly and delightfully curious kind of way. They take their time with questions that solicit their opinions, often not answering them at all, knowing that the question can be an old ego-trap. And I always know an ignorant or immature person by how certain, make that downright cocksure they are of things - not in a humble, gently confident kind of way, but in a condescending, critical, and dismissive kind of way. They have the answer almost immediately, even before the question is asked. We often fail to realize what we are revealing about ourselves, at least to anyone who is really paying attention to and somewhat experienced in the subtleties of human nature, when we come across as immediately sure about things and/or about other people's issues and shortcomings. And we can't fake wisdom, especially when things get heated; the performance just doesn't hold up in the flame of human conflict and melts away like wax in the fire. We really don't know very much about what makes other people tick (if we're honest, we're usually not even totally sure about what makes us tick in the moment), and if they just plain "tick us off," then there's probably something pretty significant going on inside us that we just haven't discovered yet. "Dismissing or dissing" others when confronted by these unknowns is a sign of immaturity, laziness, or a very tired, over-busy mind. Time and experience (in the form of many painful relationship breakdowns and failures) will take care of this eventually, if you let it, which is the first sign of wisdom. When you're up to it, you will start asking yourself the million dollar question first, "What am I doing or not doing to contribute to this situation that I don't like?" and that is always the most self-responsible approach to any problem relationship, and it seems to come naturally only with experience, maturity, and hard-earned wisdom." - Jim Spivey
"I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained." - St. Paul in Phil 3:12-16
"The difference between those who are immature and those who are premature is that the premature eventually mature." - Yours truly
As I search for the clues that Jim and Paul look for to identify the "mature" in the quotes above, I find these:
...are comfortable with not knowing what they don't know, and are always open to the idea that what they know may be (partially or completely) wrong.
...do not make a point of proving to everyone that they are humble through any form of self-criticism.
...when convicted that something is true, state it humbly and with gentle confidence.
...are very aware of their own ego, and the constant threat it is to their own cratering to it.
...know that "how they are" is revealing their character much more than "what they know or do".
...see all problems that they "feel" or "have" with others is firstly and primarily the discovery of a growth area for themselves.
...have stepped into, been hurt by, survived, and stepped into again and again very messy relationships and learn from each one, and value the process of doing so.
...know with absolute confidence that Christ Jesus has taken hold of them, for their good, and for their constant refinement, which is nothing to fear.
..."press on," joining Christ's energy with all of their own, to share in the joy of constantly becoming more wise (not be confused with becoming more knowledgeable).
...have no need for other people to agree with them on anything, even on this list of what makes someone mature, confident that God himself loves that person enough to "grow them up" too, making all things clear with little or no help from them.
...are cynical, pessimistic, and self-deprecating about themselves.
...do not delight in "not knowing" things.
...answer questions way to quickly and forcefully, almost daring others to disagree.
...are condescending, critical, and dismissive.
...are fairly sure about, critical of, and sarcastic about other people's issues and shortcomings.
...either fail miserably, over-exert, check-out or just don't show up when things get heated, messy, or emotional.
...instead of letting our issues with others prompt fearless self-discovery, just let those other people "tick them off"
...think that "appearing wise right now" is far too important to just engage with life as it comes, trusting that it's difficulties are giving me the wisdom I want
...do not put their confidence in the undisputable, unalterable, untouchable fact that Christ Jesus holds them and is doing exactly what he wants, and that they can't mess him up with their grandest mistakes, and that they are right where they need to be in every given moment.
...do not "forget what is behind", and instead carry their guilt, shame, and fear with them everywhere, infecting everything
...do not "press on" towards anything that might be ahead, so scared that they might lose what has already been attained.
I'm glad to confess that I can recognize that "mature guy" inside of me, and he is growing. And I am sad, but not defeated, to confess that I can recognize that "immature guy" inside of me as well, but he is dying. If I could draw a line graph measuring the strength and forcefulness of the immature guy inside of me over my lifetime, it would show a steady downward trend, with occasional, but brief, spikes upward (the days that I find myself particularly vulnerable and weak and self-indulgent). And the downward trend is getting increasingly steep, moving exponentially downward, giving me the very real hope that Paul speaks of..."the prize".
And the mature guy "presses on" towards it, moving exponentially faster "heavenward in Christ Jesus".
What a ride! And I am totally clear that I have absolutely nothing else to focus on and "do" in life, and need to coerce nothing from anyone around me to succeed in it.
But I offer myself to Christ, not because I think I have value, but because I know that Christ knows better than me, and I trust him more than me, and he says that I do have value.
And I offer myself to the world, not mindlessly or on its terms, but intentionally and soberly and lovingly, and according to what I discern my calling to be from Christ...to be weak, willing, honest, and courageous in every single relationship that God sends my way in order to help them become more like Christ, and to help the world become more like the Christ's Kingdom.
I (the immature I) must die every day to this, and have found it to be the hardest part of my life, and the only one that gives me life. So I (the mature I) put myself (the immature self) on the alter before God every day, wondering why he would accept such a meager offering as love for Him, but grateful that He accepts it and delivers Himself right back to me.
It sure isn't a fair trade. But I would stupid to turn it down.