Self AcceptanceSpiritually mature people have learned how to like themselves and value the differences between themselves and others. They have an understanding that they were created in a unique way. They don’t wish for what they don’t have, and are grateful for the things that they do have. As a young man I often wondered why I had the parents I had. I often wished that they were different and even sometimes wished that I had a different set of parents. I often wondered why I was stuck with two sisters, and didn’t have a brother. Sometimes I thought about how I wished I was taller, had bigger bones, and was smarter. When I was about 30, I came to grips with the fact that some things in life are unchangeable. When my own children start to complain about me or their mother I usually say to them, “Sorry we’re the only game in town; you can’t trade us in for another set.”
Spiritually mature people accept who they are. They realize that they wouldn’t be on this earth if their parents didn’t bring them into the world, and they accept their individual features that make them who they are.
The Balance of Power
Spiritually mature people understand the balance of power. In other words they know who is in charge and why certain people are in charge. I heard a great talk on leadership once at an administrator’s conference in Washington, DC. The speaker made a statement that really stuck with me. His statement was, “In order to be a good leader you have to be a good follower first.” Spiritually mature people know how to follow orders and work in any system without moaning and groaning, and don’t making statements like, “Why do we have to do this?” or better yet, “Why is he/she doing this?” They also don’t talk about their bosses behind their back. It is human nature to wonder why someone is doing something. Spiritually mature people know how to go to their boss and discuss things face to face.
Why do spiritually mature people have this ability? I believe it’s because they really know who is in absolute charge, and that’s God. They know that God has placed this person in charge of them for a reason, and if they have a problem with their boss they might as well have a problem with God, and they don’t want to take that chance. They have learned how to separate the person from the position. They respect their boss’s position, but in their heart they know that they don’t always have to like who he/she is as a person. They know that God will honor their compliance, loyalty, and respect for the person in charge and they believe that they will be blessed beyond measure for being a good employee.
The Spiritually Mature People Can Forgive Others
Spiritually Mature people know how to forgive others. I battle this all the time. I know in my heart that I have to forgive others. I know that it is not good to hold a grudge. I say to myself you have to forgive, for your own good, you have to forgive. My problem comes in when I can’t forget. The longer I dwell on someone or something the angrier I become and ultimately I become bitter. This bitterness affects me and those around me. I will admit that this feeling can consume me at times. I might even look to get even with the person who I feel wronged me. Sometimes when I sleep I am told that I make statement like, “wait until you see what I’m going to do to these people.” Forgiveness is a sign of spiritual maturity. Lack of forgiveness can paralyze a person causing obsessive thoughts that impact a person’s ability to function on a day to day basis.
Spiritually mature people know that the object of their bitterness will be dealt with by God. They know how to forgive and forget. Sometimes they not only forget but they work to restore the relationship between themselves and others. They don’t allow themselves to fall into the trap of unforgiveness for a minute because they know that it is something that could impact them for a lifetime.
An emotionally mature person knows how to admit mistakes and can accept criticism with grace and humility. Emotionally mature people listen to criticism and ask themselves if what they are hearing is true. They do not get defensive or angry when someone doesn’t say what they want to hear. Often, the way a person is brought up plays a huge part in determining whether or not a person can handle criticism.
People who are placed on a pedestal when they are young will believe they can do no wrong and will have a difficult time when anyone criticizes them. At the other end of the spectrum, people who are raised in an environment where they were constantly criticized when they were young will also have a very tough time when anyone criticizes them. Often, people from both types of environments isolate themselves and ultimately have a real problem being around people for fear of hearing something that they don’t like.
I was brought up in a family where criticism was the rule, not the exception. My mother’s criticism had an extremely cruel edge to it as well. She was an expert at making each one of her children, including me, feel like a bad person.
When I began my career as a teacher, I was twenty two years old. I was a special education teacher in a middle school in Plainfield, New Jersey. My class was made up of the toughest, most violent kids in the school. Their behavior was terrible and I had a tough time controlling the class.
On one occasion very early in the school year, I was observed by the vice-principal. He came into my room unannounced and watched me teach for a full hour. My kids were not well behaved but I didn’t think they were as bad as they usually were.
About five days later, my principal sat down with me to go over my performance evaluation. I was nervous since performance evaluations determined whether or not teachers get rehired.I knew very well that performance evaluations are designed to point out to the teacher some strength but mostly weaknesses that need improvement. I knew I had to get myself ready for some criticism when I read the evaluation.When the vice principal went over his findings with me, there wasn’t one positive remark in the evaluation. Every category was checked as either unsatisfactory or needs improvement. A mature reaction on my part would have been to engage my boss in a discussion so I could find out what he wanted me to do to improve. Instead, because of my knee-jerk reaction to any criticism whatsoever, my blood started to boil. I want you to understand that I knew my principal was a fine administrator and a real gentleman. Knowing this, I should have realized that he was just doing his job and actually trying to help me. Unfortunately, that thought never entered my mind. Instead, I was having my immature, emotional reaction to him.
A day later, I went straight to the union representative and had him look at the evaluation. He immediately scheduled a meeting between himself, the principal, the vice principal and me. The principal of course supported the vice principal’s findings in the evaluation but he gave me a suggestion that actually leaked through my thick head. He told me to go over to another school and observe another class like mine and see if I could get some help.
I went over to the other middle school in the district and started to observe a veteran teacher work with students who were as tough if not tougher than the students that I had in my class. This teacher had been in the district for many years and had developed so many effective techniques that he never really had any behavior problems. He was a kind, giving man and really took he under his wing. We became good friends. I learned from him and I became a better teacher.
The principal observed my classroom about four weeks later. This time there were positive things going on in my classroom. The kids being were pretty much on task and stayed in their seats. It actually looked like a classroom, not the circus. My new evaluation was great and assured me that my hard work was recognized.
Even though I had had an immature reaction to the first performance evaluation, I had luckily listened to the one recommendation of the principal to visit another classroom. I started out very reactive but, with the help of others, finally realized there was a lot of truth in the criticism that had been included in that evaluation. It probably saved my job.
John Bradshaw, the adult child of alcoholic guru, spoke this very telling comment about the truth. “Telling the truth prevents future pain.” Great principle. So why doesn’t everyone tell the truth? The answer is very simple. It takes a tremendous amount of emotional maturity to speak the truth. Often the truth can lead to a confrontation which is something a person who is emotionally immature can’t deal with.
Larry, a dear friend of mine, who unfortunately has passed away, watched me with my daughter one day. Anytime she did or said something that was wrong, I would have a huge reaction and start to yell at her about her behavior. Larry just kept observing this.
Finally he said to me, “Jim, by reacting the way you do, all you’re doing is grooming your daughter to be a good liar.” I finally understood what he meant when my daughter started to bend the truth a little. I would ask her a question and she would poke around verbally to try to find out what I wanted to hear. She did this to prevent my reaction. Emotionally mature people can speak the truth without fear of a reaction from another person, and can handle the truth when it is spoken to them.
In this country, we are so accustomed to dishonesty. One of our most popular presidents was most definitely an emotionally immature liar. In 1998, we watched as President Bill Clinton constantly deny his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. Why? Maybe he had a fear of an entire country and, of course, his wife Hilary’s reaction. When President Clinton continued to deny his affair, things only got worse for him as other women come flying out of the closet pronouncing that they also had affairs with the president. Clinton was also an expert in finding out what people wanted to hear and then he would tell them. People joked that he always agreed with the last person that he spoke with.
I had a friend whose son was getting ready to go off to his freshman year of college. We drove him up to his college and we intended to stay up there for three days. During the five hour car ride there, he kept insisting that we leave after we dropped him off. We told him that we were definitely staying over for at least one night. After we moved him in we took him to dinner and walked around campus with him. I watched his body language and I realized that even though he had lobbied for us to leave in the car for five hours, he was glad we stayed.
This story is not unique. Parents today have a terrible time when their children leave home. That’s because they know deep down that they haven’t done enough to prepare their children for independence. Children today are not given enough basic responsibilities as they grow and aren’t prepared for all that lies ahead in their lives. These children haven’t learned enough about survival out in the dog eat dog world. They are emotionally immature.Emotionally mature people have certain characteristics that make it easy to recognize them. What are these characteristics and what does an emotion-ally mature person look like?
Emotionally Mature People are Respectful
People who are emotionally mature is respectful. They don’t live and die by the saying…I’ll give respect when I get respect. They are respectful to everyone regardless of how they are treated. They have an appreciation for the rights and privileges of another person and therefore can accept differences of opinions gracefully.
Emotionally mature people have a built- in set of values that won’t allow them to use their words or actions to be disrespectful to anyone. Emotion-ally mature people enjoy another other people’s successes and are ready to offer praise to others for their accomplishments. Emotionally mature people know how to respond to authority and know how to work with their employers regardless of whether or not they like their boss.
When I was a young teacher, I was very immature emotionally. I had my Masters Degree in administration when I was 25 years old. I thought I had all the answers. I believed every boss I had was an idiot. I wanted to be an administrator so I could be the boss. I applied for one administrative job after another both in and out of the school district where I worked. But no one would hire me. I didn’t realize the reason I wasn’t being hired at the time. However, later I learned why I hadn’t been offered a job. It was because during the interview process, the interviewers who were all administrators themselves and they detected my “know it all” attitude. They were wise enough to know that a “know it all” attitude would not make a good administrator.Since I had tenure as a classroom teacher, I thought I could say and do whatever I wanted. I was rude and discourteous to my supervisor. I actually bullied him. I remember walking into his office one day and seeing him literally panic. To me, it looked like he was about to break down in tears. I felt proud of the power I had to intimidate this man.
My administrator asked me to take an extra class because I had so few kids in my other classes. I said, “I’m not doing it. If you think you can assign it to me, I’ll go to union and register a complaint against you.” He started begging me to do take the class. At this point, my assumption was he had been told by the principal to get this done and I refused.
I was a nightmare as an employee. I acted like I was the boss. My poor attitude reached incredible heights when I would go out for lunch. I found nothing wrong with having a few drinks and then going back to school to teach children in the afternoon. Luckily, I happened to read a biblical verse that hit me like a bolt of lightning. It said that those who are responsible in the little things will be given the bigger things.
I remember sitting quietly after I read these words. Finally, I understood how wrong my attitude had been. I said to myself, it’s time to grow up. It’s time to be a man. I put myself into my boss’s place and I knew I had put him through a living hell by just dealing with me on a daily basis. I went to my boss very respectfully and apologized for my attitude. I told him that I would do anything to help him. Never will I forget the look of pure relief on his face. Also, I became a contributor at faculty meetings, stopped listening and contributing to rumors and gossip in the faculty room. I did anything that I was asked to do with a nice attitude.
Continuing to apply for administrative positions, I was called for interview with a district superintendent. At the conclusion of the interview, the superintendent asked me for a current reference. I did something that I hadn’t been able to do during any of the previous interviews: I gave him the name of my current supervisor..the man who I had apologized to for my disrespect and who had been on the receiving end of my horrible attitude. I gave my supervisor the power to decide if I was going to become and administrator or not. My supervisor was such a good guy. He only remembered that I apologized to him and that I was now showing him the respect he deserved. What a class act he was. He could have used that opportunity to really put the screws to me. But he didn’t. Instead, he gave me a wonderful reference. I got that job! If I hadn’t grown in my emotional maturity during this time period, I never would have become an administrator; A job that I so desperately wanted.
The next observation that I have made about emotionally mature people is that they are respectful to their parents. I have worked with hundreds of students who were discipline problems. The one thing they all had in common is that they were rude and discourteous to their mother and father. The next observation that I have made about emotionally mature people is that they are respectful to their parents. I have worked with hundreds of students who were discipline problems. The one thing they all had in common is that they were rude and discourteous to their mother and father. These students almost went out of their way to bully their parents and were always telling them to shut up. Most times the students treated their parents like they were second class citizens. People who are emotionally mature have respect for the position that a parent has in their life. They respect their parent’s age and their opinions.
My parents were very tough to deal with. Even as I got older, I always viewed them as somewhat meddling. The bottom line: They were my parents and, if nothing else, I owed them respect. I always have concerns when I observe young men or women treating their parents with disrespect. I know somewhere down the road they will regret their actions. Unfortunately by that time, it may be too late.
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