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Maturity takes time (1 Timothy 5:22)

Never be in a hurry about appointing a church leader. Do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure. (1 Timothy 5:22)

Whenever a young person turns their back on their faith it's difficult to watch, but this occasion caused me more concern than most.

I spent five years serving in one particular youth ministry and of all the young people I'd had contact with, this person had more reason to believe than most. From an unchurched background, he'd responded to Christ quickly and enthusiastically and before long he was baptised and was able to recount a number of instances in which God had intervened quite miraculously in the circumstances of his life.

After about six months he informed me that some people he'd got to know in another church had asked them to come and lead their fledgling youth ministry. Because it met on the same night as ours it meant he'd no longer be part of a small group of eighteen-years-old boys that were supporting him.

I advised him against it, but he felt the opportunity was too good to turn down and so off he went. A couple of years later I learned he was no longer involved in the church, had abandoned his faith and was living a life contrary to his earlier Christian convictions.

I was once more reminded of how unwise it is for a new believer to quickly take on major leadership responsibilities before they have shown they have the capacity to cope with temptation. That young man had a whole youth group looking up to him and I wondered what impact his falling away had on the young people.

Too quickly he had been exposed to a greater level of intensity in the spiritual battle we're all involved in and his level of Christian maturity he had attained was unable to sustain him.

Christian maturity is like fruit - it takes time to grow and ripen. Paul was conscious of this when he advised Timothy to not be in a hurry to appoint a church leader who had not yet shown themselves to be "keeping pure", by "not sharing in the sins of others".

That's not to say however that we just wait for maturity to occur.

If I plant a fruit tree but don't water or feed it, no amount of time will produce healthy, abundant, mature fruit.

Similarly, in order to mature to a point where your leadership responsibilities can be increased or you are ready to cope with the challenges that are coming, you need to commit yourself to being "fed", by daily spending time alone with God, reading His Word and praying.

Like growing fruit, the day to day changes will seem imperceptible but time will make them clearly evident.

Reflection

What are you doing to allow God to develop Christian maturity in your life? Are you looking for God to do the instant, miraculous work in your heart or are you content for Him to grow you day by day and you push deeper into Him?