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Donald Trump has been all over political news for saying wildly offensive things and bickering with other members of his party. He has used racist language, disparaged John McCain for “being captured” and given out the personal phone number of Lindsey Graham after Graham called him a “jackass” on national television.
This may not be new behavior for him (I don’t usually pay much attention), but since he is now seeking the Republican nomination for President, his comments get a little more of my attention. I would like to dismiss him as a nutcase, but I can’t because he is doing quite well in the polls! At the time of writing this he is actually leading a very packed field.
How could someone so offensive to so many people be so popular?
The case for Donald Trump is one of straight-talk, anti-establishment, and of representing a silent majority of “real” Americans who want to “take back” the country and return it to being the “greatest country in the world.” This attitude is not unique to Trump, but I think the reason he’s able to use this (or any) strategy, is because we’ve stopped talking about an old-fashioned idea: maturity.
Maturity is when you’ve been around the block enough to know that what is en vogue today will pass away tomorrow. A mature person understands that the world doesn’t owe them anything. They don’t get angry over small slights. They have a sense of the fragility of life because they’ve seen it fall apart. A mature person is able to put off getting what he wants today, in order to achieve something better tomorrow. When you’re mature you have your priorities straight and make choices based on them. And when you make mistakes, you give yourself a little grace.
However you nuance the definition of maturity, people don’t talk about it a lot anymore. I think the last time I heard anyone say the word was during 5th grade health class and it was mixed in with words like “puberty” and “adolescence.”
We may not talk about maturity because we love to measure things and maturity is hard to measure.
Schools have detailed grading rubrics. At work we have number-based performance reviews. We give money to non-profits that can demonstrate results and we invest in mutual funds with a proven track record. You can’t measure maturity along a numerical scale.
But when the immeasurable has no place in our lives we find ourselves in a place where we only apply the first half of I Corinthians 10:23, “I have the right to do anything” but forget the second, “but not everything is beneficial.”
Parents shave their kid’s heads and post the videos on social media. Is it right? Well, child protective services may not get involved, but these parents are abusing their power over their children. They are not acting like mature adults.
[Warning: video does contain strong language.]
Was the Texas police officer within the legal limits when he pulled his gun on a 14 year-old girl at a pool-party, forced her to the ground, and pinned her there? I sure hope not. Was he acting with maturity? Not even close.
Professional athletes like Ray Rice show an amazing level of self-control as they train and perform. But when they enact violence against their family, we must ask, “Exactly how much control do they have over themselves?”
Many Christian leaders are excellent public speakers, have popular blogs, and are deeply orthodox in their beliefs, but they are defensive and petty. You can be a good Christian, even pastor a church, and still be very immature. In fact, you can tell even speak the hard truth to someone, but if you do it in an immature manner, how fit are you for leadership?
“If I have the gift of prophecy
and can fathom all mysteries
and all knowledge,
and if I have a faith that can move mountains,
but do not have love, I am nothing.”
I Corinthians 13:2
We simply aren’t asking the right questions about candidates like Donald Trump. We aren’t asking, “Is he mature?” Donald Trump is rich, successful, resilient, and in his realm of expertise, skilled. And if those are the only criteria that you use to evaluate who to vote for, then go ahead and vote for him. But I want a President (not to mention, pastor, spouse, friends, and myself) to be mature.
So keep moving Mr. Trump. Or come back when you’ve done some growing up.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness.” Galatians 5:22
Donald Trump image: Gage Skidmore
Ray Rice image:Keith Allison
Church image: Mor