I may be wrong on this one, but I get the sense that in our culture the word “maturity” is over-used and has lost some of the richness in its intended purpose as it relates to human personality development.
Let’s test my theory…
What comes to your mind if you heard someone in conversation say “They are so immature!”
What if that was being said of you?
We have some immediate thoughts related to immaturity – things like irresponsible, foolish, thoughtless, careless, etc. Rarely do you encounter someone who would readily say they are immature unless they feel it is an endearing part of their gregarious personality. I know some folks like that and it is, at times, fun to be around them because it makes you feel like a kid again. This is further evidence for what I mentioned above…we have some pre-conceived thoughts about the idea of maturity.
So, what is maturity?
The dictionary definition of maturity is to be fully developed, completed, perfected.
Hold on now – I don’t want to say that about me either! I’d like to think I am moving in the direction of maturity, but if someone told me they were perfect, that would be a sure sign to me that they lacked self-awareness and, therefore, were imperfect…or immature.
So, the title of this post is modeling maturity…is that even possible? How can we model maturity as a leader? How do we model something we don’t fully understand? Has anyone ever really reached full maturity? Well, I am going to try and outline some thoughts that can help point us in the right direction (leaning on some past teaching from Jerry Gillis in one of our staff meetings a few years back).
Ephesians 4 speaks to unity and maturity in the Church and has some great insight on instructions for living. Applying these principles, here are a few points that demonstrate maturity in our leadership:
1. Build friendships
I have heard leaders say that they avoid getting too close to their team. I readily admit that there is risk with every relationship, but I prefer to work with those who are my friends vs those that aren’t. Maturity looks like putting ourselves out there for the sake of relationship. I believe maturity demonstrates selflessness in our leadership that communicates incredible value to those we lead.
2. Have conversations that form us spiritually, not just task-related
If every interaction is centered on task, we are forgetting who we are as Christ-followers: ministers of the gospel. Maturity shifts our focus from “what someone can do” to “who they are”.
3. Help others succeed
Leading requires the intentional development of others. Maturity is demonstrated when we move from helping ourselves succeed to helping other succeed as a result of our influence in their lives.
4. Be loyal
Maturity looks like honoring the absent, not rushing to judgment, and believing the best about others. Have hard conversations the right way and with the right people. Maturity maintains a posture of humility and forgiveness while not expanding the circle beyond those who need to be involved. No gossip – ever!
5. Be truthful
Maturity avoids drama and exaggeration. Maturity won’t deal generally with what should be handled individually. Don’t make sweeping statements when a message should be targeted to one or a few.
6. Be humble
I believe that lifelong learners realize that they have not arrived and always have something to learn and further develop. I think this is a key indicator of growing in our maturity – when we realize that we still have things to learn and we are demonstrating that level of humility in the example given to those we lead – whether at work or at home.
The culture of our organizations are impacted significantly by these things. If we model them well, it will lead to a stronger, healthier culture. Conversely, dysfunction breeds dysfunction.
What are you modeling?