what is spiritual maturity?

January 29, 2005 | 5 Comments

Spiritual maturity isn’t always easy to define. This past week, we were in San Diego at church planting training. While there, I became aware of the variety of definitions that seem to exist for spiritual maturity. I also realized that I think many of them fall short. Too often, we spiritual maturty simply as someone who has good morals and a regular quiet time. Or, perhaps it is someone who has gone through the steps that we put in our church programming (101 classes, etc.). Neither of these is an adequate definition.

One of the helpful exercises they gave us was to define what spiritual maturity looks like, so that we can figure out how to help people move toward that. Not wanting to simply create a few steps, I put together this picture:
spiritual maturity

I see spiritual maturity as the overlap of three areas of life: life perspective, personal growth, and social action.

Life perspective is our worldview, our understanding of who God is, and how this world works. It is the need for an orthodoxy.

Personal growth is our understanding of who we are, and how we can better fit in with the kingdom of God. It is knowing our gifts and how they contribute to the greater good. It means that we connect with the leading of the Spirit in our lives through disciplines.

Social action is what happens when we put our faith to work. It is using whatever we have available to us to make this world a better place. It is not simply serving in the church, but joining alongside the community of Jesus followers as we serve the world.

The beauty I see in this is that it doesn’t limit maturity to just good morals, serving, or doctrine. It gives a more holistic view of maturity. If your worldview doesn’t cause you to grow or love, you aren’t mature. And so on…

I’d love some feedback…are there holes in this that you see?

  • I am glad you included social action. Very Bono.

  • Also very Bible…

  • Gary

    I like it. I’ve been re-reading parts of the Divine Conspiracy, as well as some NT Wright, and this model seems to be reminiscent of some of the things they said. To use Wright’s language in the last chapter of “For All God’s Worth” too many people become proponents of only one revolution (either social or spiritual), but we need to take the higher ground and integrate the two into our lives.

    Also I’m not so sure about the category of “Personal Growth.” You defined “Life Perspective” as having to do with worldvies, but I think part of our worldview has to do with how we see ourselves. I think I understand what you were doing though (one looks outwards and the other is more introspective?). I would give it a new name, maybe. The “Personal” makes it seem like the other areas are in some way detached from life. They can be done impersonally.

    Finally, I have no idea what kind of errors are in this because I can’t see the last 3/4 of each line, due to the new format. Friday night lights covers whatever I’m saying. Hope that’s helpful, though.

  • aha…i see that you mean you can’t see what you are typing…that is something for me to work on!

    i hear what you are saying about including the word ‘personal’ — the original just had the categories as perspective, growth and action. i’m still torn on which I like better.

  • i really think you could design a church campus out of that image. oh wait……too late.