Thoughts on Value

5 Signs of a Mature Person

We walked together by the dock We shared the hues of the dying sun What a perfect way to spend the time Our hearts and minds were one But the currents take us away now Blown further with every new feeling Let each believe as they will, we said And now we share no meaning How are we to share the sunset? How are we to agree again? When the sun is what each feels it is We lost the meaning we had then #db When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. – 1 Corinthians 13:11 I remember what my younger brother, Joshua, once commented about people always using the excuse, “I was born this way.” He said, “If you stayed the way you were born, you’d still be a naked baby pooping on himself.” And he’s right. To use being born a certain way is unintelligent and forgets that we can all develop ourselves from wherever we are towards becoming better versions of ourselves. While who we are starts with our natural conditions, what we do with what we start out with is more important. What is this process of improvement called? Maturity. Maturity is the process of ripening. What does it mean to be ripe? It means to be ready. I always encounter the question, “How do I know I’m ready?” And the answer is, there’s no real set standard to determine readiness. The best we can do is to constantly be in a ripening process, that we may be ready in all circumstances. But what does maturity really look like in practice. It has to be more than age. I know many people much older than me that drive me nuts over their lack of ability to navigate life’s most basic things. It has to be more than knowledge for information is abundant and only a google away. It has to be more than good speaking or convincing opinion, for there are many people who fit this but are basically useless at executing life’s requirements. I want to define maturity for what it is, and not lump it with today’s favorite virtue: Nice. As regular readers of my post will notice, while I have nothing against being nice (I think being decent to everyone goes without saying), thinking that “nice” or “agreeable” are virtues forgets that many times the most important virtues we need to uphold won’t be “nice” to others. It’s actually easier to go with unthinking crowd and be seen as nice than it is to make a stand and be embraced. So don’t mistake being liked for being nice as being mature. Five signs of a mature person: 1. Conscientious net contributor 2. Wise objective reasoner 3. Systematic resourceful learner 4. Effective 360° communicator 5. Disciplined self-improver Let me breakdown each. 1. Conscientious net contributor This has to do with developing a level of independence that allows you to participate in more interdependent relationships because you’re giving more than you’re taking. A mature person is aware of his role in society, aware of his responsibilities, and is deliberate with his contributions, being a good steward of his resources, and making sure he gives more than he takes. Opposite of this are laziness, entitlement, and idleness. 2. Wise objective reasoner  This has to do with how one processes the experiences of life and responds to things. The ability to intelligently process information, stimuli, events, feelings, and urges, is what separates mature people and immature people, not age. The ability to reason objectively is a foundation of being “reasonable”. Sadly, many were never taught this. The most unreasonable people I know are not evil but ignorant. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but no one is entitled to their own facts. Facts are the common ground dialogue can be built on, without which there can be no agreement, unless we think it’s wise to build agreement on the non-factual, which is not wise at all. 3. Systematic resourceful learner Information is all around us. A mature person doesn’t just store information indiscriminately. He is actually very discriminating, looking not just for resonance but for foundations. Being systematic means you’re deliberate and methodical about your learning. Being resourceful means you’re able to learn from any situation, good and bad, easy and difficult. Being systematic and resourceful learner means you’re deliberately learning from all circumstances, processing everything with purpose, objectivity, and convictions. 4. Effective 360° communicator The ability to communicate effectively with a whole range of people is essential in life. A mature person is able to successfully communicate to a wide range of people, relying on influence, credibility building, and objective reason to send a message across, not emotional manipulation. When a spoiled brat wants something from another, he cries and pouts until he gets his way. When a mature person wants something, he looks for win-win scenarios to incentivize others to achieve together. A mature person cultivates the ability to talk to older AND younger, richer AND poorer, less successful AND more successful, non-spiritual AND spiritual. He is able to communicate with a wide range of people because even if his audience changes his values and his integrity doesn’t. 5. Disciplined self-improver Continuous improvement is essential. I find it very sad when people get offended when others are very determined to better every day. It’s as if the constant improvement of another makes them feel insecure about themselves. Constantly want to be better, especially if your goal is to better for others, is a noble goal. But getting better is not some random accident. No one ever became a master painter, master pianist, or master anything simply by being random. One must order his steps. Even the Psalmist, David, prayed “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12) He understood that wisdom isn’t random or accidental. It is developed. You may have noticed that in all aspects, a level of deliberateness of purposefulness is needed. That is after all what a mature or “ripe” person is: someone fit for their purpose. Someone fit to be the husband or wife their family needs. Someone fit to be the worker their company needs. Someone fit to be the friend that many need. Someone fit to respond to life’s many challenges. Not someone who is merely trying to be liked. Notice, that it is possible to be any and all of these attributes without being liked or “nice”. In a world that thinks the best virtue is “nice”, I have taken it upon myself to bring definition back to our thinking. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard, “he (or she) is nice” in response to a totally unrelated question. I’ll ask, “Is he effective?” I’ll get, “He’s nice.” I’ll ask, “Can she be relied on?” I’ll get, “She’s nice.” I’ll ask, “Do you trust him?” I’ll get, “He’s nice.” You can even ask, “Does he love God?” and the answer will be “Yeah. He’s nice.” This is obviously a problem, for “nice” means nothing more than “agreeable with us”. We have conveniently, made our own definitions of everything, defining everything by how agreeable it is to us. Does anyone else think this is stupid? That we can make up our definitions for things based on how we feel about them? Does anyone else think this is selfish? That it doesn’t matter what something actually means, because we feel differently about it. Does anyone else think this is dangerous? That we are destroying any potential for intelligent agreement because we lack common definitions and common meanings. Instead of seeking “nice” in others or being seen as “nice”, be reliable, be trustworthy, be compassionate, be dependable, be intelligent, be a servant, be kind, be reasonable, be responsible. Be mature. At the very least, if the price of maturity is not something you want to pay, don’t burden those who are already paying them. You need people like them, people who’ll do the heavy lifting, you yourself were too weak to do.