Leveraging Milestones: Making Spiritual Conversations Normal At Home

Fuller Youth Institute released this article, and I wanted to share because it deals with rites of passage in a faith community.  The article is mislabeled as most of the content deals with addressing milestones and spirituality within a church or spiritual community.

Leveraging Milestones: Making Spiritual Conversations Normal At HomeI believe that the article does a great job of pointing out spiritual milestones or rites of passages for children as they grow into adults.

Here is the article.

My Highlights include:

  • Whether rites of passage or milestones, church communities have unique opportunities to intersect families at these various points and equip them to normalize spiritual conversations within their home life.
  • Our desire is for spiritual conversations in the family ecofriendly-minivan to be as normal as the conversations about basketball or the latest Disney hit.
  • Chart of Rites of Passages and Questions that they answer.

If you are new to the discussion of rites of passages in faith development, here are some additional resources.



Three Marks of the Spiritually Immature

Here is a picture of my youngest – Tobias.

Babies require a lot of attention.

  • Babies cannot feed themselves.
  • Babies stick.
  • Babies can’t defend themselves.

As a father of three boys, I have personally experienced these truth, and as a leader in the church I have noticed some parallels between babies and the spiritually immature.

The Spiritually mature feed themselves.

Here is Andrew, my middle child when he was about 2 years old.

The immature show up to church every Sunday (some of them NEVER miss), and open their mouths saying, “Feed me.”  The spiritual parent provides a message that they quickly swallow, and they never eat again until the following Sunday.  Like baby birds who eat their mother’s regurgitated worms, spoon spoon-fed Christians eat only what they are given.

A follower of Jesus has tasted how good He is, and desire more.  1 Peter 2:2 says, “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.”  However, many Christians have filled their natural desire for God with other appetites of the Flesh.

As a disciple matures in faith, he or she is no longer dependent on others for nourishment.  Disciples are able to connect with God on a personal level – through listening to His voice, and responding.

The Spiritually mature don’t stink.

Babies often stink.  When babies make a mess (in their diaper), they don’t just say, “Mom/Dad, don’t you worry.  I will take care of that foul odor coming from my backside by changing my undergarments.”    When stinky, babies often don’t notice.  As they turn into toddlers, children either cry when dirty, or run off and hide.

Babies are not able to always discern the disgusting from the amazing, and when they are discovered playing in the disgusting, they don’t know what to do.  Being aware of the power of sin in our lives, and daily surrendering our lives to Jesus is a step of maturity.  The spiritually mature are aware of the messes that they make in their own lives (and how their sins affect others), and are proactive in cleaning up the mess left behind.

The Spiritually mature can defend themselves.

A parent of a baby is always on duty (especially when children are old enough to walk, but not old enough to discern danger).  The immature are unable to sense danger whether it comes from an electrical socket or a car.  The spiritually immature are unable to discern truth from error.  Whether surfing the web or listening to the radio, they are drawn, and persuaded by what their ears want to hear.  (2 Timothy 4:3)  The spiritually mature have the ability to listen to others, without feeling the need to change their own beliefs, or the necessity to prove others wrong.

Physical age and spiritual maturity are easily confused by those who have never had the later (like Mayo and Miracle Whip).  However, true disciples accept no substitute.

2014 July4Dr. G. David Boyd is the Founder and Managing Director of EA Resources.  He is an avid lover of Legos, video games, and anything related to the Marvel Universe.

From Boy to Man – Part Two – A Response to Albert Mohler

In part one of my response, I highlighted a few issues with Albert Mohler’s descriptions of manhood including his limitation of manhood to those who are married and have children.  In this second post, I will continue to examine his 13 points of maturity by responding to points 7-13.

7.  Ethical maturity sufficient to make responsible decisions.

Mohler says, “A real man knows how to make a decision and live with its consequences–even if that means that he must later acknowledge that he has learned by making a bad decision, and then by making the appropriate correction.”  There is a huge need in our society to teach our children autonomy.  Autonomy is the ability to make decisions and live with the consequences, and it is essential to being a man.

 8.  Worldview maturity sufficient to understand what is really important.

Mohler states, “He must learn how to defend biblical truth before his peers and in the public square, and he must acquire the ability to extend Christian thinking, based on biblical principles, to every arena of life.”  He clearly stresses the importance of intellectual apologetics which is based upon a Modern Worldview.  I do believe that men should acquire the ability to think theologically about many issues and how to apply them to their lives.  However, his use of the words “defense” and “public square” seems more like a call to conservative politics.

 9.  Relational maturity sufficient to understand and respect others.

Mohler states, “By nature, many boys are inwardly directed. While girls learn how to read emotional signals and connect, many boys lack the capacity to do so, and seemingly fail to understand the absence of these skills.”  I am not sure what “inwardly directed,” means, and I would like to see some support for this statement.  While I agree that males and females are different biologically and sometimes express different qualities, gender-based stereotypes and assumptions are not helpful for building up the body of Christ.

Both men and women can develop their Emotional Intelligence.  A strong sense of identity can equip you to understand and respect others without feeling threatened by them.

 10.  Social maturity sufficient to make a contribution to society.

Mohler states, “God has created human beings as social creatures, and even though our ultimate citizenship is in heaven, we must also fulfill our citizenship on earth.”  God did make us as social creatures, and the third developmental task of adulthood is for the emerging adult to establish a community.  Adults are not called to be independent, but interdependent.

 11.  Verbal maturity sufficient to communicate and articulate as a man.

Man praying“Here’s a striking phenomenon of our times–many adolescent boys and young men seem to communicate only through a series of guttural clicks, grunts, and inchoate language that can hardly be described as verbal.”  I am not sure what phenomenon Mohler is talking about.  While communication has changed through the years, I am not sure what he is referring too.  Many adolescents and young men are capable of speaking clearly when someone is actually listening.  I feel as if it is an age-based derogatory comment.

Mohler also adds that “Beyond the context of conversation, a boy must learn how to speak before larger groups, overcoming the natural intimidation and fear that comes from looking at a crowd, opening one’s mouth, and projecting words.”   I am not sure why public speaking is a requirement for manhood.  The check list is becoming longer and longer as I read it.  I am still hoping to qualify, but meeting his standards is overwhelming.

 12.  Character maturity sufficient to demonstrate courage under fire.

“Parents should give close attention to their sons’ character, for if character is corrupt, nothing else will really matter.”  Character does matter, and I hope that my children will have the courage to stand up for what they value.  I don’t believe however that character is most evident in the spotlight (or on the battlefield).  I believe that it is most revealed in the quiet decisions made when no one else is looking.

 13.  Biblical maturity sufficient to lead at some level in the church.

businessman Mohler states, “While God has appointed specific officers for his church–men who are specially gifted and publicly called–every man should fulfill some leadership responsibility within the life of the congregation.”  I don’t find that every man has the spiritual gift of leadership, nor is every man called to lead within the church by nature of their gender.  I do believe that God does call us to community as the Church, and I would encourage men to find a way to serve within the body rather than assuming that you are required to lead.

Mohler ends by stating, “Dads, you are absolutely crucial to the process of man-making. No one else can fulfill your responsibility, and no one else can match your opportunity for influence with your son.”  It is important to call men to fulfill their role as a father.

However, what do you say to the man who must find his way because his dad left him?  What do you say to the single mother who is struggling just to make it?  What do you say to the young man whose father passed away from cancer?

What hope do you leave these children?  What encouragement do you leave these mothers?  His statement is bleak.

While I believe in the power that fathers have on their children, I also believe that the body of Christ is big enough to adopt those who are fatherless, to care for the widows, and to guide young men into maturity who had no role models.

resolution list - CopyMohler has recreated  Proverbs 31 – Man’s Edition, a laundry checklist of values and performance-driven requirements that every man is doomed to fail due to our humanity.  Many men need empowered rather than beat over the head by their failures.

May God free you from your feelings of inadequacy?

May you step forward in confidence as who God has created and designed you to be.  Know that God’s grace and mercy can lead you in the midst of your failures to become the man He has called you to be.

Dr. G. David Boyd is the Founder and Managing Director of EA Resources.

From Boy to Man – A Response to Albert Mohler

What makes a man?  The answer to this question is what drove me to start EA Resources.  The answer to this question is the foundation of MTAB.  Manhood is more than a beard.  Manhood is more than driving a truck, owning a firearm, watching Monday night football, having a wife, or producing babies.

It is not simply a question asked by the prepubescent boy, but by males at a variety of ages.

I recently came across an attempt to answer that question by Albert Mohler.  Dr. Mohler is the President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.  Dr. Mohler attempts to answer the question “When does a boy become a man?” on his blog.  I want to respond to the answer that he gave, and share why his answer are lacking at best, and at other times – hurtful.
Dr. Mohler and I agree that this topic addresses one of the most important issues that Christians face in today’s society.  I also agree that as Christians we should form our responses from a Biblical perspective.

However, I disagree with the author at various points.  (He gives 13 areas of maturity that men must attain – whose alliteration reminds me of sermons from the 80’s, and had too many points to make anything stick).

The main points are from the article, and I will respond briefly to each.

1.  Spiritual maturity sufficient to lead a wife and children.

While I clearly believe in the spiritual maturity of men, I do not believe that spiritual maturity is a mark of manhood.  If you subscribe that spirituality is required for manhood, then it follows that all non-Christians are not men.  (While spirituality is an aspect of human development, this is an example of over-spiritualizing human development.)  While we desire for all men to be spiritually mature, there are men who are spiritually mature and spiritually immature.  (For developmental markers of adulthood, please read my post).

There is a bigger problem with Mohler’s comment.  Dr. Mohler seems to require that men have a wife and children.  If this is not true, he could have replaced the words with “others.”  His definition of manhood is available only to Christians who are married, and been blessed with children.  I know many men who either by choice or circumstances are single or without children.  What message does this send to these men?

2.  Personal maturity sufficient to be a responsible husband and father.

Once again, Mohler adds the requirement of being a husband and father.   Mohler says, “In the Bible, a man is called to fulfill his role as husband and father. Unless granted the gift of celibacy for gospel service, the Christian boy is to aim for marriage and fatherhood. This is assuredly a counter-cultural assertion, but the role of husband and father is central to manhood.”

If being a father is central to being a man, I am surprised at how little instruction is given in the Bible concerning being a father.   The Bible is more filled with the story of Jesus, and how he came to redeem us and thereby calling us to bring redemption to the world.

I am surprised that the one we are called to emulate – Jesus – was neither a husband nor father.  Humans can hold to many roles including:  husband, father, brother, neighbor, uncle, friend, teacher, worker, and leader.  Responsibility can be revealed through any of these roles in life.

3.  Economic maturity sufficient to hold an adult job and handle money.

medium_6736161971I agree with Mohler when he says, “A boy must be taught how to work, how to save, to invest, and to spend money with care. He must be taught to respect labor, and to feel the satisfaction that comes from a job well done, and a dollar honestly earned.”  I believe that one of the three developmental tasks of adulthood is vocation.  There is a lot of wrong teaching about what vocation is within the church.  Vocation can be defined as how “God has chosen to work through human beings who, in their different capacities and according to their different talents, serve each other.” (Veith, 2002)

I also believe that our manhood should not be linked with “hold[ing] an adult job” (whatever that expression means).  I feel as if this expression rules out jobs held by hard workers in entry-level positions due to the inaccessibility of education.  It is important for a man to provide for his family (I Timothy 5, 2 Thessalonians 3), and to work.  I have seen some friends whose manhood never shined brighter than when they were in a period of unemployment or under-employment.  It is important to know that our approval before God is not dependent on whether or not we currently have a job.

4.  Physical maturity sufficient to work and protect a family.

Like all other points, this one requires all males to be married and have children.  However, he also attempts to link physical maturity with protecting a family.  I am thankful that he acknowledges that some males due to injury or illness are exempt from his standard – however the standard is still flawed.

Is physical might the only means by which a man might protect his family?  I don’t feel as if calling 9-1-1 is less manly than pulling out a gun, chasing down an intruder.  I feel as if Mohler wants to say that all real men own a gun, but doesn’t go quite that far (for which I am thankful).  While I have no trouble with men who own guns or built a pair of guns at the gym, I don’t think that either is required for manhood.

5.  Sexual maturity sufficient to marry and fulfill God’s purposes.

As puberty rates decline and marriage rates escalate, the time between a male’s sexual maturity and the moment at which they enter marriage expands.  During this time, we must help boys as they wrestle with sexual desires and question their sexual identity.  I appreciate Mohler’s desire to call both boys and men to purity.

6.  Moral maturity sufficient to lead as an example of righteousness.

Group of men - church“Stereotypical behavior on the part of young males is, in the main, marked by recklessness, irresponsibility, and worse.”  Unfortunately, society often establishes negative stereotypes for young men.  As the church, we need to change the metanarrative (or the descriptive story) of adolescence and young adulthood.  If we continue to characterize youth as a time of reckless wandering from God, then young men will continue to meet those expectations.

“Biblical manhood does not develop in a vacuum.”  Mohler is correct that manhood does not happen in theory, but in the context of our lives.  Overall, I would like to see him acknowledge that manhood can be fully achieved without having a wife and children.  The church must stop making singles and childless couples feel like second-class citizens.

The piece overall speaks not about moving from adolescence into adulthood, but characteristics he wants Christian men to exhibit.  Therefore, he leaves his original question unanswered, and leaves young men trying to complete a laundry list of ideals in order to grasp their identity.

For my perspective of moving from adolescence into adulthood, please go here.

References:  Veith, Gene.  God at Work.  2002

(Here is my continued critique of Mohler’s points.)

Dr. G. David Boyd is the Founder and Managing Director of EA Resources.