Focus 1 (of 4)-Revisioning Maturation

Focus 1|Revisioning Maturation

You may not want to grow up—but you’re still going to, and with good reason.
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What weird fashion trend would you bring back?
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Let’s talk about growing up.
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when you’re ready to begin today’s Spotlight.

You’re always you, but over time you change. As you change, you mature—and this process is natural, good, and God-intended. It’s built into the journey of being a human, and that speaks to what it means when someone says “Grow up.” It’s an invitation to be alive.Let’s talk about the elephant in the room.
(And welcome, by the way! It’s great that you’re here!)

Do you know when a master chef is “done?”

There’s a good chance you’ve heard of the show, MasterChef.

In the show, amateur/home chefs compete for the title and prize of “Master Chef,” and they honestly make some pretty fantastic-looking food. It’s inspiring to see these hobbyists rise to the occasion and make things that impress the professional judges. 

That being said, what they accomplish is nothing compared to what it takes to be an actual member of the American Academy of Chefs (AAC—the certified “master chefs” of the American Culinary Association). Here are the requirements list for membership:

  • Must be certified as an ACF Master Chef, Master Pastry Chef, Executive Chef, Executive Pastry Chef and/or Culinary Educator for no less than six (6) years. Must continue to renew certification.
  • Must be in the culinary profession as a cook, working chef or culinary educator at an accredited school for no less than fifteen (15) years; ten (10) years must have been as an Executive Chef at a full-service operation. A Culinary Educator must have served five (5) years as an Executive Chef in a full-service operation.
  • Must be a professional member of the American Culinary Federation a minimum of ten (10) consecutive years. Must be a member in good standing and remain so to retain AAC Fellowship.
  • Must have attended two (2) ACF National Conventions (you may substitute three (3) Regional Conferences for one (1) National Convention).
  • Applicant must provide statement stating intent to attend Annual AAC Dinner Induction & Medal Ceremony and morning induction ceremony.
  • Must be sponsored by two (2) active Academy Fellows. An Academy Fellow is permitted to sponsor one (1) new applicant per year. Academy Fellows must submit a written recommendation of at least one hundred (100) words on the applicant’s behalf.
  • Must submit a letter of recommendation from an elected member from the applicant’s chapter.

Question: It depends on how you work out the overlap, but at least how many years does it seem to take to be a member of the AAC based on the above list?
Do you know when a human being is “done?”
The answer to the question is more—much more—than anything having to do with when they die. It’s a question about maturation, and maturation takes time.

The exciting part is that time spent maturing is time well spent. God endorses it, and even more than that, God designed it. You’ll look at the idea in more detail later, but notice how these three passages from the Bible show that growing up is 1) natural, 2) good, and 3) exciting.

1 Corinthians 13:11 | When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.

Colossians 1:28 | He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.

Philippians 3:12–15 | Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, 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, then, who are mature should take such a view of things.

Observation: God wants you to grow up—and to get to know what he’s designed you to be in the process—and he wants to enjoy the journey with you.
Welcome Perspective
You may not want to grow up, but you’re going to, and with good reason.
Find God’s unchanging faithfulness in the midst of maturation.

As people change, grow, and mature, God shows perfect, unchanging love. Paul Gerhardt’s hymn “Go Forth, My Heart, and Seek Delight” finds a lot of joy and comfort in this love. It uses the picture of summer changing into fall to admire God’s love for you in every phase of life on earth and then as you go to be with God forever in heaven.

Have someone from your group read one verse at a time, and between each verse reflect as a group on the words and phrases that are bolded, asking the question: How can this idea bring me joy?

Go forth, my heart, and seek delight,
While summer reigns so fair and bright,
View God’s abundance daily,
The bounty of these gardens see,
Behold how they for me and thee
Have decked themselves so gaily.

The trees with spreading leaves are blessed,
The earth her barren soil has dressed
In green so young and tender.
Narcissus and the tulip fair
Are cloth’d in raiment far more rare
Than Solomon in splendor.
(See Matthew 6:28–30)

Fast grows the wheat, like waving gold,
and gives delight to young and old;
they praise with glad thanksgiving
him who through mercy measureless
vouchsafed the soul of man to bless
with goods that grace his living.

Thy splendor, Lord, doth shine so bright
and fills us with such pure delight
while here on earth abiding;
what, then, may be in store for me
and all who heaven’s glory see,
in golden halls residing?
(Compare this use of “golden” to the word “gold” in the previous verse. What comfort can be found in the parallel use of the golden color here?)

Oh, choose me for thy Paradise,
while yet I dwell beneath the skies,
but let me flourish ever.
With thee alone will I abide,
thine honor serve, and none beside,
till soul and body sever.
Pray this out, using Psalm 71.
Pray along (out loud, if you’d like) with the writer of Psalm 71 as they celebrate the faithfulness of God in youth and pray for it to continue in old age.
Fight the flinch.
There’s a section in the Bible, in the book of Hebrews, where the writer scolds the readers for failing to mature.

We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so.
Hebrews 5:11–6:3

It’s likely that you can, in some ways, identify with the audience of those words. You haven’t grown in ways you should, you want to, or someone else hoped for you.

There are many reasons for this, but one of them was identified in Julien Smith’s classic (and free) eBook The Flinch.

Open the book and read the introduction and the definition of the word “flinch” by clicking the button below.

After reading, follow these steps to complete the activity (especially if you’re doing this Spotlight in a group):

  1. Get into even smaller groups of two or three.
  2. Share at least one way that you tend to flinch in the face of challenging growth.
  3. Say a short prayer for the other person/people after they share their flinch.

And don’t despair. It’s great that the flinch is a boxing metaphor, because it reminds you of an important truth: You’re not going to beat the flinch by yourself.

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:57
Worship Perspective
God is able to meet any person at any level of maturation.
Write a recipe for growing up.

There is, of course, no cookbook for growing up that can comprehensively get a person through every situation. The Bible is really helpful, but that’s not really why it exists.

You may have heard someone say that the BIBLE is…
  • Basic
  • Instructions
  • Before
  • Leaving
  • Earth

As cute as the acronym is, it’s wrong. The Bible has one real purpose: it shows people the way God saved the world from sin through Jesus.

But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
John 20:31

At the same time, there’s a lot of useful, helpful, and clarifying information about what it means to mature into what God created and called you to be. The same Jesus that saved the universe also has a purpose for you and uses maturation to help you identify it.

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
Ephesians 4:11–16
Read and reflect on someone else’s recipe for a lesson learned the hard way.
Below are two stories, each of which are times when Biblical heroes learned tough lessons. Read each story, and think through how to retell them in terms of a recipe.


A recipe usually has the following:
  • From the Kitchen (Life) of:
  • Recipe Title:
  • Prep Time: (Age/Phase of Life when it happened):
  • Ingredients (When/Who/Where, etc.):
  • Instructions/Directions (Step-by-Step/Play-by-Play):
  • Serves # (Moral or Lesson Learned):
So… what is maturation for?


Each of the images below is mentioned in some way in the C.S. Lewis quote below—a quote which, incidentally, summarizes quite powerfully the purpose of the maturation journey. Read through the quote, and then find where each image fits, making sure everyone in the group “gets” why that point is being made.

There lies the maddening ambiguity of our faith as it must appear to outsiders. It sets its face relentlessly against our natural individualism; on the other hand, it gives back to those who abandon individualism an eternal possession of their own personal being, even of their bodies. As mere biological entities, each with its separate will to live and to expand, we are apparently of no account; we are cross-fodder. But as organs in the Body of Christ, as stones and pillars in the temple, we are assured of our eternal self-identity and shall live to remember the galaxies as an old tale.

This may be put in another way. Personality is eternal and inviolable. But then, personality is not a datum from which we start. The individualism in which we all begin is only a parody or shadow of it. True personality lies ahead—how far ahead, for most of us, I dare not say. And the key to it does not lie in ourselves. it will not be attained by development from within outwards. It will come to us when we occupy those places in the structure of the eternal cosmos for which we were designed or invented. As a colour first reveals its true quality when placed by an excellent artist in its pre-elected spot between certain others, as a spice reveals its true flavour when inserted just where and when a good cook wishes among the other ingredients, as the dog becomes really doggy only when he taken his place in the household of man, so we shall then first be true persons when we have suffered ourselves to be fitted into our places. We are marble waiting to be shaped, metal waiting to be run into a mould. No doubt there are already, even in the unregenerate self, faint hints of what mould each is designed for, or what sort of pillar he will be. But it is, I think, a gross exaggeration to picture the saving of a soul as being, normally, at all like the development from seed to flower. The very words repentance, regeneration, the new man, suggest something very different. Some tendencies in each natural man may have to be simply rejected. Our Lord speaks of eyes being plucked out and hands lopped off—a frankly Procrustean method of adaptation.

The reason we recoil from this is that we have in our day started by getting the whole picture upside down. Starting with the doctrine that every individuality is 'of infinite value' we then picture God as a kind of employment committee whose business it is to find suitable careers for souls, square holes for square pegs. In fact, however, the value of the individual does not lie in him. He is capable of receiving value. He receives it by union with [God in] Christ. There is no question of finding for him a place in the living temple which will do justice to his inherent value and give scope to his natural idiosyncrasy. The place was there first. The man was created for it. he will not be himself till he is there. We shall be true and everlasting and really divine persons only in heaven, just as we are, even now, coloured bodies only in the light.

C.S. Lewis, Membership (an essay)

Learn Perspective
God calls people to mature further, not with threats
but with promises of opportunity to love with grace.
Submit the recipe for a lesson learned the hard way.
You don’t know what you don’t know, until you know. Learning the hard way—learning by experience. It isn’t always fun. (Let’s be real: it’s never fun. That’s why it’s called the hard way.)

The good news is, because of Jesus forgiveness it can be okay that you learned the hard way. Again, you don’t know until you know. But, whether it seemed like it at the time or not, there was some good that came out of it all. You learned something. About the world. About circumstances. About others. About yourself.

So, if we already know how this experience has helped us learn something, let’s try to help someone else, too—let’s help someone learn this lesson before they have to learn it the hard way.

Use the comment section below to submit a "recipe card" of life advice—reflect on an experience you've had where you learned the hard way. (To give it some structure, use this format…)

  1. Recipe Title: (Enter the title of your advice/experience.)
  2. From the Kitchen of: (Enter your own name.)
  3. Prep Time: (Enter the age/stage of life when this happened.)
  4. Cook Time: (Enter the duration/length of this experience.)
  5. Ingredients: (Enter any pertinent circumstances (who, where, etc.).)
  6. Directions: (Enter the step-by-step (play-by-play) of what happened.)
  7. Serves #: (Enter the moral of the story—your takeaway—to it all.)
Share your story with another person in your group after you’ve submitted your response in the comments below. 

Break your group up into pairs to give people the opportunity to share what they’ve learned with someone else in the group.

Take a look to see what others have submitted in the past (again, via the comments section at the bottom of this page).
Feel free to submit a prayer request by filling out the below form.
(If you choose to make your request public, you'll see it display in the Current at the end of the Spotlight along with anyone else who did the same.)

Prayer Requests

Pray through your requests—together—as a group.
After submitting your requests in the above form, take some time to share with your group whatever requests the group might have for this week.
Serve Perspective
Maturation is a journey everyone goes through.
Let’s make it safe and easy for one another.
Worship the God who invented (and blessed you with) maturation.
This song explores the imperfect but blessed process of maturing, and how God’s love is “all I ever needed.”
Lyrics from Your Love by Brandon Heath

I felt it first when I was younger:
a strange connection to the light.
I tried to satisfy the hunger,
I never got it right—
I never got it right.

So I climbed a mountain and built an altar,
looked out as far as I could see.
And every day I’m getting older,
I’m running outta dreams—
I’m running outta dreams.

But your love, your love—
the only thing that matters is your love.
Your love is all I have to give.
Your love is enough to light up the darkness.
It’s your love, your love—
all I ever needed is your love.

You know the effort I have given,
and you know exactly what it cost.
And though my innocence was taken,
not everything is lost—
not everything is lost.

But your love, your love—
the only thing that matters is your love.
Your love is all I have to give.
Your love is enough to light up the darkness.
It’s your love, your love—
all I ever needed is your love.

You’re the hope in the morning.
You’re the light when the night is falling.
You’re the song when my heart is singing:
it’s your Love.
You’re the eyes to the blind man.
You’re the feet to the lame man walking.
You’re the sound to the people singing:
it’s your love.

But your love, your love—
the only thing that matters is your love.
Your love is all I have to give.
Your love is enough to light up the darkness.
It’s your love, your love—
all I ever needed is your love.
Sing along with (or listen to) this song to close out this Spotlight.
Feel free to sing along or simply listen. Do what makes you comfortable—but do whatever helps you focus on the song's meaning best.
Farewell Perspective
You are as you are, and you’re changing.
You’re blessed by both at the same time.
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