I was spending time with someone recently about some of what we’re doing to help Parkcrest recognize that they are a people who live all of their life on mission. As we were talking, this guy asked me, “do you feel like people need to reach a certain point of maturity before they realize this and live on mission?”
My first reaction and response was to say, “no”. We processed my immediate response some then, but now after having time to process it more since then, I’m still convinced that was the right answer.
Maturity doesn’t precede living on mission. Maturity is developed while living on mission.
Jesus doesn’t send out his disciples when they’re ready, they learn to be ready by being sent out. The 72 know very little about preaching the Kingdom and casting out demons when they’re sent out to do that. Peter takes on launching the movement of the church, not long after he has denied Christ – he matures while he’s leading out on mission. Paul preached for 3 weeks in Thessalonica before leaving and a church getting established there.
It seems that those who spend their time focused on trying to become mature, never end up living out the mission of Jesus, and really by definition never then become mature. But those who pursue the mission of Jesus have to develop maturity in order to carry it out.
Maybe one of the most important things that we can do as leaders is to call people towards mission and then help those who are leaning in towards it to develop maturity along the way.
I think it’s interesting that when David is King of Israel and needs a commander for his army, he doesn’t ask who has the most experience, or who is the best fighter. He simply says this, “Whoever leads the attack on the Jebusites will become commander-in-chief.” The kind of maturity that was needed to lead the army was displayed by the person who would go up in front first – the one who would be on the front lines of the battle.
I’m all for helping people develop in maturity in their relationship with Christ. In fact, in a few weeks, we’re going to be launching an exciting spiritual formation process for Parkcrest. But those processes help people who are living on mission to mature. Without living on mission, without being someone who steps up and gets on the front lines, the process of maturity doesn’t mean much.
So first, live your life focused on living out the mission of Jesus, and then allow your growth and maturity process to follow that.