Do shortcuts to maturity actually exist? They do, if you pay attention.
They're the experience of people who have gone down the path before you. Many are wiling to share their advice, if you're willing to listen. In this article, I have super-condensed some of the best lessons I learned from my grandfather, father and my own life so you don't have to repeat our mistakes.
But let's get one huge false belief out of the way first:
Becoming more mature is NOT going to turn you into an old person before your time.
What it will do is turn you into a wise person before your time, and the benefits of that are invaluable. Not only will you stop shooting yourself in the foot as often, but you'll avoid the consequences of self sabotage and enjoy a happier life
Our culture is moving so fast today it seems there isn't even time to think before you have to make a decision. Guess what? Some people want it that way.
Businesses are notorious for forcing you into making hasty buying decisions. 'Sale ends Friday!' 'Limited time offer!' 'While quantities last!' 'Be among the first 25 callers to get this deal!'
Why the rush? When we decide something too quickly, we usually don't think it through thoroughly. There's probably less thinking going on today than in any time in history. Often, if we studied it, we'd realize we don't need that product or service at all. Or we'd find out it wasn't as good a deal as advertised. Or at the very least, we'd comparison shop and get a better price.
But it doesn't just apply to buying. It applies to everything. We tend to think with our emotions instead of facts. That's a real sign of immaturity.
How many fewer unwanted pregnancies would there be if girls weren't swayed by their emotions? How many fewer people would get fired if they thought it through rather than telling someone off. How many fewer people would get killed by drunk drivers if someone was as concerned with other people's safety as they were with "having a good time."
All actions have consequences. Sometimes they're good, sometimes they're bad. The immature person thinks, "It won't happen to me." The mature person thinks, "It could happen to me."
Many people today are looking for a thrill of some sort, whether it involves going too fast, taking a life-threatening chance, or engaging in unhealthy behavior.
You think you can beat the odds? So did every person with AIDS, every person who died of an overdose, and every person killed driving too fast.
"But you want to take all the fun out of life," someone may whine. No, I want to take being stupid out of life.
Life is not a movie, where people walk away unharmed from horrendous car crashes, or where idiotic behavior is dismissed with a wisecrack. It's true that when people are young, they believe they're invincible. If the Army had to rely on old men for volunteers, they wouldn't get any.
The practical takeaway: Don't risk your life, health, or future with unsafe choices. You are not invincible. Bad consequences can happen to you.
Peer pressure is one of the most powerful emotions you'll face in life. We all want to fit in. There's nothing wrong with having a nice house, car, and clothes, but when you want those things to make others respect you, you're chasing the wind.
The sooner you learn this truth and apply it to your life, the happier you'll be. Sadly, millions of people never get beyond high school, when it comes to trying to be cool and part of the "in crowd."
For the Christian, a sense of self-worth comes not from outward symbols but peace with God. When you grasp the truth that you are loved and valued by the very Creator of the Universe, seeking the approval of other people becomes silly in comparison.
Find your confidence in God's love for you, and you'll skyrocket in maturity.
Several years ago I changed churches. With that came a true understanding of what Christ has done for me and what he continues to do every day. I began to see things through a new perspective. I began to appreciate the humble material goods I have because they fulfill all my needs.
I also began to view my singleness differently. Sure, some days I still wish I were married, but for the most part, I have great freedom to pursue the things I desire, like this web site.
Monitor your own attitude closely. Constantly remind yourself that feelings are not facts, and you can change your attitude quickly, turning your day around.
When you look at your life with a sense of appreciation for your health, your intelligence, whatever talents and skills you have, and your potential to grow, a sense of thankfulness will lead you.
The mature person cultivates a positive and optimistic attitude. When you learn to do that consistently, you'll look forward to getting out of bed in the morning.
This is my favorite, so I saved it for last. Trusting God is one of the toughest challenges you face in life. I still struggle with it.
Christianity is an adventure. It's the most exciting life possible because we follow a big, loving, all-powerful God. Incredible things can happen. I have known great pain and heartache in my life, but by trusting God, I have come out a victor, stronger in my faith today than I've ever been. That's what I want for you.
God loves you. When things go wrong--as they will in every person's life--you will have doubts. Satan will pick at you, tempting you to give up. Remember that he's a liar and his goal is to separate you from God.
Jesus Christ, on the other hand, always tells the truth. In fact, he is the Truth. As the Truth, he is trustworthy. He sacrificed his life for you. That's an act that demands trust.
If you remember only one of these shortcuts to maturity, make it this:
No matter what happens, trust God.
Trusting God is the supreme act of maturity. You can't do any better than that. If you're able to do that one thing throughout your life, it will carry you through any crisis, give you strength for any task, and give you rest when you go to bed at night.
Trust God and never forget that he loves you!
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