Living as a Family on Mission
Taken from the book Discipleshift
The next stage of spiritual development is the child stage. John often referred to the early Christians he pastured as his children (1 John 2:12). And in 1 Thessalonians 2:10-12 Paul referred to himself as a spiritual father who, in dealing with his children must encourage, comfort, and urge them to live lives worthy of God. Disciples in this stage are continuing to grow in their relationship with Jesus, and are continuing to grow in their relationships with other Christians also. They have learned the language, many of the teachings of Jesus and the scriptures and can converse with other believes in the context of faith. They are beginning to have their lives shaped by the scriptures and are walking the journey with other Christians. Yet much of their spiritual lives still revolve around them; meeting their needs, their desires, and their interests. As children they are still self-centered, not yet fully oriented to the focus on others that marks one living in maturity in God’s kingdom and family.
Think of the characteristics of a child in your life. A child can do some things for herself. Yet they still are dependent on the care and guidance of his or her parents. A child can be active and joyful, as well as fun to be around. Yet they are also unaware that they are self-centered, focused on their own needs and without regards for others. Children can be over confident, prideful, and full of himself, but they can be insecure, timid, shy, and full of self-loathing or defeat. They may have a connection to the church family but their world still revolves around themselves. They crave affirmation and approval.
As in other stages, when someone is a spiritual child, their words reveal it. Here they are developmentally self-centered. You may hear them say things like:
I don’t know if this church is meeting my needs anymore. Maybe I should go to a different church that does.
Don’t break up our small group. We won’t get to be with our friends.
Who are all of these new people coming into our church? The church is getting to big. It’s too hard to get a parking spot.
Why do we have to learn new songs? I like the traditional Hymns.
I was not fed at all by that sermon today.
Well. I’d join the praise team but no one has ever asked me.
I was helping in the children’s ministry, but they didn’t appreciate what I was doing, so I quit.
As you can see they need teaching about who they are in Christ, how to have close friendships with other believers, and what to expect from Christians. They need to learn to trust God in obedience, doing what the Word says rather than what their feelings tell them to do. As they grow their lives will become more and more about God. They will learn to do the right thing for the right reason. They will learn what it means to have a servant heart, rather than one that is self-centered.