“Thinking is a sacred activity. The heart cannot embrace what the mind rejects.” – Anonymous
As best I can understand it, the job of spiritual leaders and teachers, from a Christian perspective, is twofold: (a) to equip people to do the work they were put on earth to do — ie. to live out their life purpose — and (b) to help people grow to spiritual maturity — ie. to become fully developed, or “complete.” This I get from the teaching of Bible passages like Ephesians 4:11-13.
We’re helping people grow, with the goal the they be:
- equipped for important works of service in the world
- nurtured to be a fully developed spiritual human being (someone who is mature, complete, perfect, whole)
Much has been made of Jesus’ famous and poetic words in Matthew 18: that people who want to enter the Kingdom of Heaven must become “like little children.” Jesus’ words in that passage have caused some people to highlight the value of having a “childlike faith.”
Fair enough, but Jesus’ words in Matthew 18 must be understood in the context of other teaching in the Bible that emphasizes the need for growth to maturity. It’s true that we must enter into the spiritual life like children — with open and humble and receptive hearts — as opposed to being proud and closed-minded. But the goal is never to STAY like little children — as other other passages (like Ephesians 4:11-13) make clear.
In fact, in two separate instances (I Corinthians 3:1-2, and Hebrews 5:11-14), New Testament writers express exasperation with their readers, because these readers are still in a childhood stage of growth, when they should be more like adults. They require teaching that is “spiritual baby food,” when they should be ready for solid food. This is not acceptable!
There’s a difference between having a childLIKE faith, and a childISH faith. We can maintain a childlike sense of openness and humility all throughout our lives … but we need to grow up. We need to develop.
Arrested Spiritual Development
I believe that many spiritual leaders and teachers in our world are suffering from arrested spiritual development, and are inhibiting the spiritual growth of the people they teach and lead. They are stuck in an immature phase of spiritual development, and they are passing on this same kind of arrested spiritual development to the people around them.
This happens for two reasons: Continue reading The Problem of Arrested Spiritual Development in Christian Circles … and it’s not what you think