Occasionally throughout my ministry, an attendee of the Church I lead will come to me with an interesting statement. They will tell me they are leaving so that they can attend someplace and go deeper in their faith. Often, they are direct and say that they need sermons that are deeper in content. The quest usually seems genuine enough. People want to be spiritually mature, and they think the way to obtain that goal is to expose themselves to a particular type of preaching and teaching.
Unfortunately, this is not the way to develop spiritual maturity. Once we have received the basics of the faith, what the apostle Paul calls spiritual milk, then there are two things that will help us to mature more in religious life.
- Learn to Feed Yourself.
When our children were moving toward physical maturity, one big step was that they could feed themselves. If my wife or I prepared the food, then they could pick it up, bite it, chew it, and finish a meal. The second step in their maturity is when they were able to go into the kitchen and cook their own food. They were no longer dependent on anyone other than themselves. In fact, one of my life goals as a parent is to train them well enough that they no longer need me to survive.
The same is true spiritually. Real growth is happening when you move beyond needing someone else to feed you the meat of the gospel. When you can read, understand, learn, and apply the scripture on your own, you have made a massive step in your growth. You don’t need someone to feed you, because you can do it yourself.
- Learn to Feed Others.
There is a second level of breakthrough when your children find a mate and eventually have children. Now they need to not only be able to feed themselves, but they also need to start the cycle over by feeding someone else.
The same is true spiritually. The pinnacle of maturity is when you can take what you are learning and teach it to someone else. Nothing grows you in maturity more than be responsible for helping another person grow.
So, when someone comes to me and says, “I need to go somewhere else so that I can grow.” I smile and wish them the best. They don’t need to go anywhere else, they need to move to the next level of their faith, but that is difficult to do. Going out to eat every night is much more fun.