Diplomas and Maturity

You probably know someone who will wear the cap and gown this month. The graduation ceremony is a traditional way we recognize the achievement of a certain level of educational progress. But how do you measure inner maturity?

The diploma offers little proof of that. Although some work hard, others earn their sheepskin just by spending time in the seat rather than developing their mind.

Because a diploma has varied meaning, most employers or colleges also require applicants to take tests to verify their actual level. We might wish for a similar test to measure emotional maturity! Reaching the age of 18 or 21 means a person is legally an adult, but it doesn’t guarantee maturity of thinking.

Peter Scazzero has written a wonderful book titled; Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. After describing some steps people go through along the way, he lists these traits of maturity. He says people who are mature…

  • Are able to ask for what they need, want, or prefer—clearly, directly, honestly.
  • Recognize, manage, and take responsibility for their own thoughts and feelings.
  • Can, when under stress, state their own beliefs and values without becoming adversarial.
  • Respect others without having to change them.
  • Give people room to make mistakes and not be perfect.
  • Appreciate people for who they are—good, bad, and ugly—not for what they give back.
  • Accurately assess their own limits, strengths, and weaknesses and are able to freely discuss them with others.
  • Are deeply in tune with their own emotional world and able to enter into the feelings, needs, and concerns of others without losing themselves.
  • Have the capacity to resolve conflict maturely and negotiate solutions that consider the perspectives of others.

One good test of emotional maturity is whether we are willing to evaluate our lives by those criteria and be honest about how we measure up!

The subtitle to Scazzero’s book is, “Emotional health and spiritual maturity are inseparable. It is not possible to be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature.” Attaining maturity is a process, and must include growth mentally, spiritually, and emotionally.

Graduation isn’t the end point, but just a rest stop along the way. Likewise, our quest for spiritual and emotional maturity is a lifelong journey. And remember, the dictionary is the only place where maturity comes before perseverance, values, and work.

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