Spiritual growth is something we all desire.
Whether we are Christian, new age, or humanist believers, moving from here to there is a big part of what life’s all about.
But there is an interesting conundrum when it comes to sharing our journeys.
How do we know when we’ve arrived at “there?”
Obviously in one sense we never really arrive.
Whatever growth we’ve experienced to date, there is much more coming in the future.
That is just human reality.
But I see a very interesting phenomenon occuring in the personal growth circles I travel. It is the desire of many to be teachers.
In the Christian tradition we are warned about seeking out this role.
James 3:1 tells us, “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.”
He goes on to point out how we all stumble in many ways and none of us is perfect.
So far not really too much revelatory there.
But there is something deeper here I think James is hinting at, we often don’t recognize.
How do you know you’re really ready to teach?
So you think you’ve had some spiritual insights and think you understand things now.
Does that mean you should just head off to direct others about how to live their lives?
You might really be onto something.
But how do you know your life has really changed?
I constantly see people who are seeking to grow, trying to share their “insights” with others as they go.
But then a short time later they have to back pedal.
The latest “wisdom” they’ve had revealed to them has evaported on them yet again and left them back where they started.
This problem is very common among the young.
When we are in our teens and early twenties we’re convinced we’ve found the better way.
Our parents and elders before us were missing out on what has now been revealed to those of us open to new light.
But those parents and elders know something the young do not.
They know what it is like to be young and think you’re experiencing enlightenment.
They know how many times they themselves sought to teach others what they were seeing.
Only to find themselves having to back pedal and reverse what they thought they knew.
The more a person moves on in life, the more apt he is to take James’ warning seriously.
He knows too well what it is like to be judged for thinking he knew it all, only to find out he didn’t.
Robert Ringer calls this early period of our lives “the age of infinite wisdom.”
It is strongest in our teens.
It slowly begins to dissipate toward the end of our twenties.
By our mid thirties and beyond we’re starting to be amazed by how much wiser our parents have become!
Of course nothing of the sort has happened.
Instead the “now not as young” are starting to see the wisdom their elders always had.
Their elders always had something else going for them too.
They had enough time to put to the test the wisdom they were so sure of in their youth.
Time to change what didn’t work.
Someone who is older can now truly say what worked and what didn’t. Because his changed life has stood the test of time.
And THAT is the key to knowing that your life has changed.
Only when your new insight has produced such lasting change, can you know it is the wisdom you now believe it is.
Because it has stood the test of years.
No not days.
Of course what this means is you have to pay your dues. This is the true price for being a true teacher.
Any new insight can seem to work well for a time.
But can you say after 5 years, 10, or even 20, that you’ve found no reason to change your mind?
Has the transformation you were claiming back then really “stuck?”
Of course the young don’t want to wait that long.
This is another reason they face the back pedalling they always do.
Wisdom is known by its company. It’s company is usually the old.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to grow when you’re young.
This trial and error pattern I’ve described is all part of the process of becoming wise.
But understand that seeking to be a teacher will bring you under greater judgment.
Because you’re claiming to really know what will work.
But you don’t have the experiences yet to back your claims.
Until you’ve got that under your belt you might want to do more listening than talking.
If you’re patient your time will come and you will truly be able to help others.
Because now you will indeed know you have the wisdom you claim.