As Christian leaders we are called to continually grow to more like Christ, developing in the same ways he did.

Luke 2:52 tells us four ways that Jesus developed, “Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and favor with man.”

He developed in wisdom – intellectual development.

He developed in stature – physical and emotional development.

He developed in favor with God – spiritual development.

He developed in favor with man – interpersonal development.

It could be that Luke, in describing Jesus’ growth, was referring to more than just the basic process of Jesus growing from a boy into a man. As a physician, I don’t think Luke was merely describing Jesus’ height, but also his physical and emotional health.

How does one define emotional health? I think that it is a challenging task, but from a leadership perspective, I think emotional development is best described as maturity. Christians need to grow up!

When I was a kid traveling in the backseat of the car on a family trip, I would call out just about every five minutes,” Are we there yet?”  I had no patience when it came to the passing of time or for that matter, anything else. I wanted what I wanted, and I wanted it that instant. I like to think that as I have aged, that I have grown in my ability to wait. I think God uses this capacity to wait to grow us in maturity.

How do you handle having to wait? Do you become frustrated and lose the fruit of God’s spirit of patience? In my experience I have found that waiting is one of God’s greatest tools for growth.  How do I know that?  The Bible shows us again of the benefits of waiting. Waiting is one of the ways God uses to help you and I to get reset emotionally. 

The prophet Isaiah gives us this picture in Isaiah 50:31, “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”    

I love that image! I need that kind of emotional strength in my life, and I get it by not just waiting, but by waiting on the Lord. Waiting causes us to stop so that God can reset us and renew us.

The emotional maturity we gain by waiting also strengthens our character.  

 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us — they help us learn to be patient.  And patience develops strength of character in us…” Romans 5:3-4 

I remember my dad had a Polaroid Instant camera when I was a kid. It was a major break though in photography in that almost instantly, the image on the photo you snapped would quickly develop on the film right before your eyes. It was way faster than taking rolls of film to the drug store where it took nearly a week to get the pictures back. But even then, I remember being impatient about having to wait for this instant film to develop. I remember someone saying that if I shook the film after it came out of the camera, it would develop quicker. (In 2000, that’s what Andre 3000 of OutKast sang about in their hit “Hey Ya.” “Shake it like a Polaroid picture”) 

Hey y’all, listen to this, God uses times of waiting to develop our character, If you’re like me, I want God to develop my character without having to wait or go through any difficult circumstances. But the Bible says it doesn’t work like that. That’s not how we develop. You can’t make steel without heating it up. Likewise, you can’t develop character without going through times of waiting and maybe even difficulties. As the Apostle Paul puts it in Romans 5:4,” but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

As Christian leaders, and remember, everyone is a leader of something, our hope comes from the character we develop through persevering through difficult times. We grow up emotionally by learning patience through that process.