Every day I work with and coach leaders from all over the country, mostly volunteer and vocational youth workers. One of my favorite things is to develop leaders to 'do their thang' and become all they've been created to be. The world needs more healthier and whole leaders who are fully alive in their work.
Because I work with young-ish leaders, I also see a fair amount of immaturity in our tribe. The perception of youth workers is that we are some of the most immature leaders/pastors in the church today. I hate that perception about our tribe, but it's not entirely unfair. If perception equals reality, we have a problem on our hands.
As I've worked with and coached youth workers, I've learned a few things about immaturity. First, what exactly does it mean to be immature? Webster says,
IMMATURITY | noun
- the state of being not mature, ripe, developed, perfected, etc.
- emotionally undeveloped; juvenile; childish.
- behavior that is appropriate to someone younger: they were shocked by such immaturity in a grown man.
OUCH – “behavior appropriate to someone younger”. If being immature is how we are perceived, I’m gonna bet on the fact the right response isn’t to point our fingers at someone else, puff our egos, and become defensive. That reaction will only exacerbate the perception of who we are. There's a better way.
There are a couple key antidotes to chiseling immaturity out of our lives so we can act our age.
First, Cultivate Humility.
Instead of combatting the perception with immature responses, what if we counteracted that perception with a dose of humility? What if we cultivated humility by asking our boss, co-workers, volunteers, and close friends:
- What’s it’s like to be on the other side of me?
- What do you see in me that I cannot see?
- Specifically, where can I grow in wisdom and maturity?
- What in my life and leadership isn’t appropriate for my age and position?
The answers to these questions from a variety of people would certainly require some serious maturity to listen to their responses and consider the implications. The answers to those humble questions would incite a mature action step (or several). The themes that emerge would reveal the logs in our own eye and invite us into the good work of transformation.
It would probably do our immaturity well to say “I’m sorry” a little more often, lean into difficult conversations, and ask for help on a regular basis. It could also mean that you stay in a challenging work situation a little while longer so that you can be a peacemaker, learn about your own contributions to the difficulty, and be a problem solver.
We’d probably grow emotionally and spiritually if we looked for nuggets of truth in criticism, rather than relenting to the knee-jerk reaction of “reply all” to an email and defend our actions.
Cultivating humility isn't the silver bullet to immaturity, but it certainly is a powerful remedy.
Integrally connected to our willingness to cultivate humility is to counteract immaturity with…(part 2 coming tomorrow).