Grow up! I’ve both spoken those words and had them spoken to me. Sometimes (rarely, I’m sure), it is because I might have been behaving in a slightly juvenile manner.
One of my friends used to say, “Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional.”
I’m pretty sure that, “Grow up!” whether aimed at me or from me, says more about the speaker than it does about the target. It likely means that the speaker is irritated, inconvenienced or maybe embarrassed by the actions of another. And it rarely results in growth.
Try these out sometime:
1. Tell your grass to grow and see how it responds.
2. Tell a puppy to grow up and stop chewing your shoes and tinkling on the floor.
3. Tell a baby to grow up and stop crying.
4. Tell a middle-aged preacher/writer to grow up and stop using the word “tinkling” in public.
I had an “Aha!” moment during my devotional reading this morning. Along with my Bible, I also read through a devotional book each year. This year, it’s the classic, “My Utmost for His Highest” by Oswald Chambers. Here’s a quote from this morning’s reading:
“So often we impair God’s designed influence, which He desires to exhibit through us, because of our own conscious efforts to be consistent and useful. Jesus said there is only one way to develop and grow spiritually, and that is through focusing and concentrating on God. In essence, Jesus was saying, ‘Do not worry about being of use to others; simply believe in Me.'”
In other words, pay attention to the Source, and out of you ‘will flow rivers of living water’ (John 7:38). We cannot discover the source of our natural life through common sense and reasoning, and Jesus is teaching here that growth in our spiritual life comes not from focusing directly on it, but from concentrating on our Father in heaven.”
I can’t tell you how many times, as a pastor and church consultant, I have wanted to tell people to grow up and stop being spiritual babies. I’ve preached those sermons and heard those sermons preached.
But here’s the problem. People don’t grow physically, emotionally or spiritually because someone told them to try harder to grow. Healthy people with healthy habits will grow in all those ways, not because they are focusing on growth, but because they are focusing on a lifestyle that will result in growth.
Spiritually, that means focusing on obeying God and following Jesus … Reading the Bible and praying, not to grow, but to converse with God … Going to church, not to grow, but to worship God together with His people … Getting involved in various ministries, not to grow, but because we love Him and want others to know Him.
Our lives matter so much to God that He never tells us to “Grow up!” He just shows up and shows us how.
Look up, child!
Dr. Gerry Lewis, author, blogger, church consultant and leadership coach, serves as executive director of the Harvest Baptist Association headquartered in Decatur.