I was reading about a guy in a church the other day. He was considered one of the most spiritually mature people around. He memorized whole chunks of Scripture, championed causes for the church, was put in incredibly important leadership roles, was a regular attender, and carried out “missions” for the church. He had been in church his entire life, was outspoken against sinners, and well-respected. Sounds like a pretty outstanding guy, right? Nope. His name was Saul, and his profession was making sure Christians got a death sentence. Granted, he became Paul later on, a champion for Christ and the author of most of the New Testament, but he’ll make our point pretty well here.
My point is that sometimes we confuse a lot of things with spiritual growth and spiritual maturity. Let’s take a look at some of these “possibly deceptive markers” of spiritual maturity. Disclaimer: These things are good, just not on their own. The point being made here is that they are not necessarily a marker of your maturity level. After that, we’ll take a look at some actual markers of spiritual growth.
1. You’ve been going to church for 40 years.
Trust me, anybody that has been to church for more than 5 minutes understands that this is not always a marker of spiritual maturity. Spiritual growth takes effort. This means more than just showing up. This means an intentional desire to push yourself to be more like Christ. Simply going to church will not do that on its own.
2. You’re in a leadership position.
Deacon, chairman, committee member, pastor, and teacher. All of these are leadership positions. None of them automatically denote spiritual maturity. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that people should be spiritually mature to get into a leadership position, but that’s not always the case. The problem is that people tend to assume that because you’re in a leadership position, you are absolutely a spiritual role model. This just isn’t always the case.
3. A lot of church members respect you.
Again, that’s a good thing. You can use this to help out with the church, gather support for leadership in the church, and use influence to help others. However, it’s not necessarily a mark of spiritual maturity. People respect other people for a number of reasons, and not all of them have anything to do with spiritual maturity.
4. You read your Bible daily.
Awesome! That’s a great place to start. However, it’s not a mark of spiritual maturity. The mark of spiritual maturity is reading your Bible and then allowing it to affect you. For example, the person that may not be spiritually mature will simply read Romans 13 (submission to your governing authorities). The mark of the spiritually mature is to read Romans 13 and then let it change how you feel and act towards governing authorities.
So, all of these are “deceptive markers.” What are some actual markers of spiritual growth? If I had to pick a couple of markers of actual spiritual growth, I would pick these:
1. A fervent prayer life
This is more than just praying for your meal, healing, or finances. This is an open, back-and-forth communication with God to determine His will for your life. This goes far beyond “thanks for my stuff, God, now can I get some healing over here?”
2. A passion for the lost
One thing that shows spiritual maturity is a passion for lost people. This basically means that your entire life is seasoned with Scripture and also a desire to reach the lost.
3. A changing worldview
We should never stop changing. Being like Christ always requires change. This change never stops. When I see people trying to align their worldview with the Bible, that’s a great sign.