Emotional and spiritual maturity  

Posted by Denis Haack in , ,

Recently my friend and Covenant Seminary professor Donald Guthrie has pointed out that though it is common to do so, spiritual maturity cannot be separated from emotional maturity. We are whole beings, and mature as whole beings. The Spirit works as he wills in each person, of course, so this observation does not mean the process or timeline for maturity will be identical for every follower of Christ. It merely means that growth in Christ embraces all of our life and being, because Christ is Lord of all.

Guthrie notes that in Emotionally Healthy Spirituality author Peter Scazzero identifies four stages in the process towards emotional maturity. They are worth considering. How are we doing in this lifelong process? In what ways can emotional immaturity evidence itself in Christian community? What spiritual difficulties might arise in someone due to various forms of emotional immaturity? Of what do I need to repent? In what areas of my life do I need to be open to growth, even if that process is painful?

Here are Scazzero’s four categories:

Emotional Infants
* Look for others to take care of them
* Driven by instant gratification need
* Have great difficulty entering into the world of others
* Use others as objects to meet their needs

Emotional Children
* Are content and happy as long as they receive what they want
* Unravel quickly from stress, trials and disappointments
* Interpret disagreements as personal offenses
* Are easily hurt

Emotional Adolescents
* Tend to be defensive
* Are alarmed by criticism
* Keep score of giving so they can ask for something later
* Deal with conflict poorly
* Become preoccupied with themselves
* Have difficulty truly listening to another person’s pain or needs
* Are critical and judgmental

Emotionally Healthy and Spiritually Mature Adults
* Are able to ask for what they need or prefer clearly, directly, honestly
* Recognize, manage, and take responsibility for their own thoughts and feelings
* Respect others without having to change them
* Give people room to make mistakes and not be perfect
* Appreciate people for who they are, not for what they give back
* Are able to enter into the feelings and needs of others without losing themselves
* Have capacity to resolve conflict maturely

This entry was posted at Monday, January 10, 2011 and is filed under , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


Thanks, Denis. That was very needed, convicting and profitable.

January 10, 2011 at 2:35 PM

You are welcome.

January 10, 2011 at 2:52 PM

Thanks, Denis.

I think I might print this out and put it on some vertical surface so that I have to see it daily.

January 10, 2011 at 5:20 PM

Very interesting indeed!

January 10, 2011 at 9:34 PM

Old Dominion Heather:
Good idea. I was thinking of printing it and with a little lamination making it into a book marker. I will have a tendency to forget it. More likely repress it...
Thanks for commenting.

January 11, 2011 at 10:22 AM

Unsettling how time and distance can distort one's views of oneself. I thought I was mature, but that word-mirror you posted is showing me that I've been stagnant at best in my growth. Too much work and play, and not enough time alone, can really steal the years away.

January 15, 2011 at 5:22 PM

Oh, there is wisdom in what you write here. When Donald first showed us this material I was stunned at how self-deluded I am.
May we both know grace.

January 15, 2011 at 6:24 PM

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