Spiritual Maturity: 5 Signs You DON’T Have It

Spiritual Maturity: 5 Signs You DON'T Have It
The issue of spiritual maturity seems to provoke one of the super strange conversations in the North American and Western church today. Here’s the bizarre part: Some Christians end up criticizing other Christians for not being “deep” enough or committed enough to be “real” Christians. (The fact that this may not sound bizarre to you is, in itself, evidence of how bizarre this has gotten.) There is apparently a certain subset of Christians who have maturity figured out, and the rest of us, well, not so much. And yet often what we call spiritual maturity…isn’t. In fact, at least five of the common claims we make about having spiritual maturity actually show you lack it.

What the Spiritual Maturity Conversation Sounds Like

So, to be clear, how exactly does this issue surface in conversation?

In leadership circles, the dialogue often starts with a question such as, “What are you doing to disciple your people?” (emphasis on disciple, often said with a deeper voice than normal) or a dismissive statement like, “So you’re attracting people, but then what?”

And it’s almost always said condescendingly, as though some people own the maturity franchise and enjoy watching other fellow-Christ followers squirm while they try to come up with answers that will only show how immature they really are.

I’ve been on the receiving end of that conversation many many times, because, well, our church reaches a lot of people who ordinarily don’t show up at church.

5 Signs of Spiritual Maturity…That Actually Show You Lack It

Before I outline the list, please know I’m not claiming to be “mature.” I’m not even claiming I understand the issue entirely. I’m just saying there’s something broken in our dialogue and in our characterization of spiritual maturity.

As for me personally, I would hope I’m maturing, but have I arrived? Not a chance.

Discipleship is an organic, life-long process. It has something to do with what the ancients called “sanctification.” The process of becoming more and more holy, a term, which stripped from its strangeness, simply means to be “set apart.” Basically, it means you’re different than you were. And that process continues until you die. I’ve outlined a few of the markers of more authentic spiritual maturity in this post, and again here.

In the meantime, if you want to keep growing, here are five signs that pass for spiritual maturity in our culture that probably show you lack it.

1. Pride in How Much Bible You Know

Since when was it a good thing to be proud of how much Bible you know, and to look down on people who don’t know?

As Paul points out, knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. Clearly he knew what he was talking about.

Some Christians strut their biblical knowledge like it is an accomplishment. That’s so wrong. 

I won my share of sword drills (remember those?) when I was a kid, and I take time to read and study the Scriptures pretty much every day, but as far as I can tell, I’m supposed to use that knowledge to function as a bridge to people, not as a barricade showing everyone else how righteous I am. Because, incidentally, last time I checked I wasn’t that righteous.

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Carey Nieuwhof
Speaker and podcaster Carey Nieuwhof is a former lawyer and founding pastor of Connexus Church, one of the largest and most influential churches in Canada. With over 6 million downloads, The Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast features today's top leaders and cultural influencers. His most recent book is “Didn’t See It Coming: Overcoming the 7 Greatest Challenges That No One Expects and Everyone Experiences.” Carey and his wife, Toni, reside near Barrie, Ontario and have two children.