A few weeks ago, I was sharing with college students that missional living has revealed paradigms in my life that needed to shift. The most significant paradigm that needed to shift for me was around the path to increasing my missional living.
I’ve watched churches, leaders and Christians live on mission and then hit a wall. The mission had outpaced their maturity.
As followers of Christ, we long to make a difference in the lives of those around us. As we live on mission, share our faith and serve others we discover that missional living is very rewarding, but we also discover another truth.
Your mission for God is only as great as your maturity with God
Your mission for God can only be as great as your maturity with God.
Evangelism and being on mission as a Christian is hard. It is painful and difficult. It doesn’t always produce what we long to see. Good fruit grows alongside bad fruit and sometimes it feels like one step forward with two steps back in missional living.
If we focus our attention on the fruitfulness of mission we often neglect the faithfulness of spiritual maturity.
What is spiritual maturity?
Spiritual maturity is a nebulous phrase that we often use to beat each other up with in Christian circles. Depending on what you value, you can claim others aren’t spiritually mature because of their lack of certain theological clarity, service to their community or simply because they don’t share your view on cultural matters.
The scriptures reveal that God measures maturity in Christ-like love and faithfulness more than talent and fruitfulness. The spiritually mature are described as wise, increasingly gracious and are able to endure anything that circumstances bring their way by trusting God to maintain their peace.
Jesus is the benchmark of maturity and His character grew as He lived faithfully seeking wisdom and knowledge of God alongside faithful service in loving and healing others. His spiritual maturity was marked by intimacy with God our Father to know what our Father wanted and what our Father was doing. It was His faithfulness in maturing with God that develop His fruitfulness on mission. Intimacy flowed to loving activity of extending grace to those caught in sin, speaking with the marginalized when no one else would and healing even when it wasn’t religiously acceptable to do so.
God asks for your mission to match your maturity
While Jesus is always the penultimate model for us, much can be learned from Paul on growing in spiritual maturity. A key lesson is that God only asks for your mission to match your maturity. All too often we seek to have our mission be larger than God has given and undercut our maturity in the process.
Paul’s words to Timothy on elders directs them to faithfulness at home before they increase their mission into the church. Paul’s words to the Thessalonians directs them to feed and nourish their home before they seek justice in their city.
The Pauline epistles exhort the church to deal with their in-house issues by allowing their identity in the gospel to reshape their community before He speaks to the mission going forward. Each letter is a reminder that God is inviting us into a relationship with Him not merely a business partnership.
His Kingdom is built by maturity on mission.
God’s Kingdom is built by spiritual maturity on mission.
When mission outpaces maturity
When you look around your church at marriages that have fallen apart, pastors who have fallen from grace in their churches and business leaders who have failed in their roles you witness a common reality. Their mission or their role outpaced their maturity in handling the challenges they faced.
Their trajectory of success was unsustainable in an American evangelical context that demands business like key performance indicators to be met and increased every year. Eventually we reach the capacity of our mission for a certain season and we face a choice. Will we be content at the current level of our responsibility and press in to God for maturity? Or will we press forward increasing our responsibility despite the sense that we are in over our heads?
Jethro instructed Moses in Exodus that some can be faithful with 10 and others 50 while there may be those who can be faithful with hundreds and even thousands. Our mission must follow our maturity.
3 ways to make maturity our mission
Each person must make their own paradigm shift if our mission will be sustained and even grow. The shift is to move towards maturity spiritually, emotionally and relationally. As always, the question is how?
1. Embrace your limitations and your strengths
It requires humility to acknowledge what your good at, your strengths, without pride and to couple them with your limitations. All of us have limitations that are unique to our situations. For some that is our relational status and needs in the home, while others face different challenges.
Paul instructs the married to please their spouse while the single person has greater freedom. For some, challenges in the home mean that missional activity is reserved for those in the household. For others, limitations in knowledge, wealth, success or skills can be gifts that allow us to embrace the mission God has given us instead of envying the missional possibilities of others.
Your mission for this season of your life may just be your home and that is God’s gift to give you freedom.
What are your strengths? What are your limitations? In humility, ask God to reveal to you these areas in your life. Embrace them both as gifts and freedom from God.
2. Choose the mission in your face
God has placed people in your life. Be faithful with your roommate, your spouse, your parents or your kids. Missional activity that is greater outside of our closest relationships reveal that we lack the maturity needed to serve others well and it won’t last.
Being on mission by serving those closest to us, loving them through the highs and lows of life, showing them the gospel in word and deed, and increasing their vision of Jesus is the most important mission God has given us. Maturity sees these relationships as worthy of our full attention not as a hindrance to building God’s kingdom.
Who has God placed closest to you? How are they growing in their love for the Lord Jesus and looking like Him?
3. Let maturity outpace your mission
In a performance driven country, missional activity has become a performance driven mindset. The mission is great and so it can be easy to always “do more” for God. If we buy into performance driven faith, we are actually serving ourselves, not God.
In Jesus and Paul, we see two men that were faithful in private for years before they were ever faithful in public. Their maturity prepared them for their mission.
In the church today, mission often reveals the insufficiency of our maturity. Before we send others or go ourselves, we should consider our own spiritual maturity and that of others we push toward mission.
More harm than good is done for the Kingdom of God when spiritual immaturity is empowered.
God has the ability to accomplish and be more passionate about your maturity and mission than you ever will be. Since we don’t have the abilities of God, we must choose our maturity over any great mission.
Your mission is only as great as your maturity.
Your mission is only as great as your maturity.
Need a guide to help you mature your church’s mission for your local context? Logan specializes in coaching pastors, consulting churches and training leaders to live on the mission God has given them. Find out more by clicking here:logangentry.com/coaching