If you’re a person who lives your life in the scriptures, and in God’s presence, seeking to live out his will on earth, hopefully you’ve noticed that, all around us, maturity is vanishing. Our culture prizes youth and youthfulness in almost every aspect–from looks to pursuits. A complete disdain for the actual shouldering of responsibilities is taking over, along with an inability to care about things that aren’t enjoyable.
This is just one way that the way of Jesus is diverging more and more from the way of the culture around us. A Christian understands that God created us, not to spend our lives pursuing fun, but to strive to transcend youthfulness and press on to maturity. For everyone who has reached the age of biological maturity, it must be said: a fully human person is a mature person. That’s why part of our focus in the Young Adults fellowship is on maturity. Christian maturity is absolutely essential for a believer of adult age.
And since those of you who are on the younger end of the spectrum can no longer look to the culture for cues on how, practically, to grow up, we need to turn our attention to the scriptures, and to wisdom from trusted, established teachers in the church.Along those lines, I recently found this excellent guide for young men, from Al Mohler. It’s called From Boy to Man–the Marks of Manhood.
Mohler starts off like this:
When does a boy become a man? The answer to this must go far beyond biology and chronological age. As defined in the Bible, manhood is a functional reality, demonstrated in a man’s fulfillment of responsibility and leadership.
Then he goes on to suggest 13 “marks of biblical manhood,” and observes, “The achievement of these vital qualities marks the emergence of a man who will demonstrate true biblical masculinity.”
Here are his 13 Marks of Manhood, with a choice quote for each one.
- Spiritual maturity sufficient to lead a wife and children. “A man must be ready to lead his wife and his children in a way that will honor God, demonstrate godliness, inculcate Christian character, and lead his family to desire Christ and to seek God’s glory…Spiritual maturity is a mark of true Christian manhood, and a spiritually immature man is, in at least this crucial sense, spiritually just a boy.”
- Personal maturity sufficient to be a responsible husband and father. “True masculinity is not a matter of exhibiting supposedly masculine characteristics devoid of the context of responsibility…Marriage is unparalleled in its effect on men, as it channels their energies and directs their responsibilities to the devoted covenant of marriage and the grace-filled civilization of the family.”
- Economic maturity sufficient to hold an adult job and handle money. “Slothfulness, laziness and economic carelessness are marks of immaturity. A real man knows how to earn, manage and respect money.”
- Physical maturity sufficient to work and protect a family. “A boy must be taught to channel his developing strength and emerging size into a self-consciousness of responsibility, recognizing that adult strength is to be combined with adult responsibility and true maturity.”
- Sexual maturity sufficient to marry and fulfill God’s purposes. “The true Christian man practices sexual integrity, avoiding pornography, fornication, all forms of sexual promiscuity and corruption.”
- Moral maturity sufficient to lead as example of righteousness. “As a boy grows into manhood, he must develop moral maturity as he aspires to righteousness, learning to think like a Christian, act like a Christian and show others how to do the same.”
- Ethical maturity sufficient to make responsible decisions. “The indecisiveness of so many contemporary males is evidence of a stunted manhood.”
- Worldview maturity sufficient to understand what is really important. “A boy must learn how to translate Christian truth into genuine Christian thinking.”
- Relational maturity sufficient to understand and respect others. ” “Individuals who lack the ability to relate to others are destined to fail at some of life’s most significant challenges and will not fulfill some of their most important responsibilities and roles.”
- Social maturity sufficient to make a contribution to society. “The Christian man bears a civilizational responsibility, and boys must be taught to see themselves as shapers of the society even as the church is identified by our Lord as both salt and light.”
- Verbal maturity sufficient to communicate and articulate as a man. “Though not all men will become public speakers, every man should have the ability to take his ground, frame his words, and make his case when truth is under fire and when belief and conviction must be translated into argument.”
- Character maturity sufficient to demonstrate courage under fire. “This courage is demonstrated in taking a stand under hostile fire, refusing to succumb to the temptation of silence and standing as a model and example to others, who will then be encouraged to stand their own ground.”
- Biblical maturity sufficient to lead at some level in the church. “There is a role of leadership for every man in every church, whether that role is public or private, large or small, official or unofficial. A man should know how to pray before others, to present the Gospel and to stand in the gap where a leadership need is apparent.”
That’s just a taste. There’s two or three paragraphs of great wisdom under each heading. The whole thing won’t take you more that 15 minutes to read, but it could affect the rest of your life. Literally.
If you’re a man, I encourage you to read it and pray about these things, along with familiar scriptures on the subject (like, say, 1 Timothy 4:12 and Corinthians 13:11). Ask the Holy Spirit–where do I need to mature? Then, take action.
And if you’re a woman, I encourage you to read this piece also, for two reasons. First if you want to be married some day, you should be looking for this kind of man to marry. (Men, listen up!) Pray for God to send one your way. He will not lead you to marry a boy in a man’s body. It’s a man you need, and you should know how to recognize one when you see one. Second, if also one day you end up raising little boys of your own, these are great things to lay down as foundations for the goals of your parenting.