During my 10 years with college students, I enjoyed the incomparable privilege of mentoring groups of young men. Typically, I identified five to seven sophomore leaders and expected to disciple them for the next three years until they graduated. At the beginning of our second year together, I developed a tradition where we opened our Bibles to 1 Corinthians 13:11 and read, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.” After the sobering words had a moment to sink in, I would ask the living room circle of students, “Are you children or are you men?” When they were children, their parents dressed them, found friends for them, fed them, taught them and gave them money for an allowance. But, as children grow up, they begin to make their own choices, cultivate their own friendships, feed and teach themselves, and earn money to meet their own needs. In becoming an adult, they assume responsibility. This is what it means to “grow up.”
Over and again, the Bible emphasizes the importance of us taking intiative in regards to our spiritual development. In Romans 12:2 Paul urges readers to “not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Likewise, in 1 Peter 1:14-16, the writer encourages Christians, “As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’” And, again, Peter writes, “make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love… be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure.” (2 Peter 1:5-7). God produces life change, but He invites us to participate with Him.