Babies that are born premature often lack certain biological functionality and require some special medical assistance. Even healthy babies are dependent on others for their health and survival. As a normal child grows toward maturity, we recognize that an inherent immaturity is always part of the mix. Assessment of this maturity level differs between the child, the parents and others. The child often thinks he’s more mature than he actually is. Thus, he makes premature determinations about situations, things, and people without the necessary and sufficient information and experience needed for sound judgments. For example, the five-year-old assures us that he doesn’t like some new food on his plate even though he has never seen or tasted that food before. The fact that the food is new to him is (in his premature opinion), sufficient data for him to draw his conclusions. Most children will grow up and come to love many of the foods they first rejected. Maturity provides needed perspective. Maturity brings wisdom.
Now there are two lessons I want to draw from this point of pre-maturity. One lesson is for parents who are trying to raise their children to be responsible, mature adults. Parents, you’re there to provide the mature perspective that your children don’t yet possess. Therefore, you decide what’s good for them when it comes to things like: food, sleep, hygiene, clothes, music, entertainment, friends, work, church, and a world of other things. This doesn’t mean they can’t or shouldn’t make some decisions, but it does mean that you’re guiding and overseeing that process and not simply leaving it up to their premature whims. You have lived longer and can see further than they can. That’s why God gave them parents.
A second lesson is for adults. Turning twenty-one doesn’t automatically eliminate this problem of pre-maturity. In one sense, we’re all lacking a measure of maturity and thus we’re dependent on one another. Having the label “adult” applied to us can cloud this truth. A twenty-five-year-old doesn’t typically get advice from fifteen-year-olds; that’s who fifteen-year-olds- get advice from. Twenty-five-year-olds get advice from other twenty-five-year-olds. In both cases peer advice tends to coincide with our own perspective and thus we hear what we want to hear (“My friends agree with me”). God put us in communities with a broader perspective for a reason. Just like little children need parental perspective, so too the rest of us need people who have lived longer and can see further than we can. This is how we can gain a maturity beyond our years.
The trinity of time, knowledge and godliness come together to give wisdom or maturity. These are the things that enable us to see further than we use to. Through our own experience (learning things the hard way), and by vicarious experiences, maturity accumulates. We learn not to judge books by their covers, not to judge people by our first impressions, not to believe every sales pitch, that most things worth doing are harder than you think, that time will tell, that we don’t know as much as we thought we did, and a million other things that come with time, knowledge and godliness. So, we should tap into all those resources of maturity and get advice from the broader community that God has surrounded us with.