Sulking, seething, pouting, retaliating, temper tantrums, self-pity, selfishness, unpredictable emotions. What do all these phrases have in common?
These are things we expect to see in children. They reveal childishness and immaturity. They are symptoms of unhealthy and inappropriate ways of thinking and acting. They indicate a lack of development in social skills and emotional management.
While parents anticipate these attitudes and behaviors in their children, good parents also address them. They work diligently to help their children learn healthier and more appropriate ways of acting, reacting and responding to the frustrations, disappointments, denials and pains of life. Good parents help their kids to “grow up” in they way they deal with their relationships and emotions.
Sadly, these kinds of attitudes and behaviors are not only found in younger folks. All too often adults are guilty of resorting to the same childish stuff. While the reactions may be dressed up in more refined and sophisticated clothing, at the root the issue is still the same — a lack of maturity. And adults are extremely adept at rationalizing and justifying their immaturity!
The Apostle Paul wrote about this in one of his church letters. In his observations of the church at Corinth, Paul addressed the issue of childishness and immaturity:
“Dear brothers and sisters, when I was with you I couldn’t talk to you as I would to spiritual people. I had to talk as though you belonged to this world or as though you were infants in the Christian life. I had to feed you with milk .. because you weren’t ready for anything stronger … You are jealous of one another and quarrel with each other …” — 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 (NLT)
While Paul wanted to help these believers move forward in their walk with God and in their usefulness to the work of Christ, something was in the way. He couldn’t take them any farther because of their spiritual, emotional and relational childishness. They were adults in body, but still thinking and behaving like little kids.
What about you? How many times do you resort to sulking, seething, pouting, retaliating, temper tantrums, self-pity, selfishness and unpredictable emotional reactions when facing frustrations, disappointments, denials or hurt? How much childishness still remains in your life, and what impact is it having on your walk with God and usefulness to Him.
May God help all of us to grow up and leave our childish ways behind!