Maturity is the condition of having grown into the form and function which is one's design and destiny to attain to. This definition covers the different categories of things which can mature – acorns, wine, bodies, forests, intellects, and a host of other things, both abstract and physical. Maturity is something that happens over time, but does not necessarily come with time. The acorn could be eaten, the body could be broken, the forest could be burned, the mind might make its thinking futile and fail to mature. When we speak of maturity in reference to persons, we almost certainly always have in mind intellectual maturity – maturity of character, the growth and development of personal integrity and wisdom. A person who is mature is a person whose mind works the way it should – it keeps him out of unnecessary trouble and eschews foolish thoughts, choosing to dwell on wisdom and virtue instead of sense pleasure and that which alters or inhibits the full functioning of the mind, be they chemical drugs or the equally dangerous spiritual sort – false philosophies that turn powerful minds to heaps of dung that have less worth than the mind of most animals.
IQ is not intelligence. It is your capacity to have intelligence (and only by one method of measurement, at that). Everyone has an IQ. Not everyone uses their mind to think to their full potential. Even so, intelligence is not knowledge. It is the ability to acquire, remember, recall, and process volumes of knowledge—brain data. And yet, intelligence does not guarantee understanding. Because even if you’re good at thinking, you can reach the wrong conclusions if you have the wrong initial beliefs. This is parallel to logic—it is easy to reason validly, but valid logic can reach false conclusions. Sound logic is both valid and has true premises, guaranteeing true conclusions. Likewise, intelligence is valid thought but may have false presuppositions, leading to unsound (unwise) conclusions. Sound thinking is what wisdom is. The ability to not just reason, but to reason from true beginnings to true ends. Very few people are wise. You do not need to have much knowledge or a high IQ in order to be wise. You need a requisite level of intelligence in order to access wisdom, but wisdom is more of a gift than the other three. It tends to be given out more unevenly than the others. Vast knowledge and high IQs tend to be found in highly intelligent people – and especially the highly educated – but wisdom is often found in surprising places. Often far removed from the halls of academia or temples to man-made gods, wisdom can be found in the very young and very old, but seems to be scarce among the established leaders in society. And two more things need pointing out: education is not knowledge—it is access to it, through the mediation of another person or persons. Based on who this mediator is, the knowledge gained from education can be great, little, or false. And common sense is a sort of wisdom that is intuitive and typically not learned through abstract educational methods. It is “common” not in that it is found among many people, but in that it is found among the “common” people. Those people who are overlooked by politicians, religious teachers, media and academia alike. As Ecclesiastes says, “more valuable is the whispering of the wise in secret, than the shouts of a ruler among fools.” Those you hear most often are those who are, in general, least worthy of being listened to. Even God, speaking through Solomon, the wisest man to ever live, affirms this. So think about this, when you turn on the tv, peruse the bestsellers in the bookstore, read the newspaper or turn your ear to the local gossip.
Why this aside? Because I needed to define terms. IQ is not intelligence which is not education which is not knowledge which is not wisdom. Common sense is a type of intuitive wisdom that the highly educated, highly intelligent often lack. This may imply that it’s something that can be unlearned, by conscious repression. Wisdom is something that can be learned and developed, but is first and foremost a gift, because you can’t simply figure it out on your own just by sitting down and thinking: you must learn it from others, or learn it through your own experience. And this is where maturity comes into the picture. Maturity of the intellect is the development of wisdom, concomitant with an increase in knowledge that happens naturally when you learn anything true and right.
In my life experience, I’ve discovered two important things about maturity and wisdom. One: maturity is NOT something to be taken for granted; it doesn’t at all necessarily come with age. I have encountered so many “adults” which were more childish than I was at that time in my life, at several junctions. Most recently, the people on my university's online discussion forum have brought so much shame and disrepute on the estate of 30-50-year-olds in my eyes, that I now no longer have any respect for those older than me simply because of their age. Make no mistake, I’m not implying I disrespect other adults. But I have NO esteem for a person simply on the basis of their age. And anyone who acts like that’s something that should be expected (Grumpy Geezer comes to mind) immediately loses esteem in my eyes. I can’t respect someone who even implies something so monumentally stupid and offensive as that they should deserve respect because they were born longer ago. Does the time of your birth have anything to do with you? Is it your choice? No. You had no choice in when you were born, so if you are to be respected because of your age, it is not because of something you’ve done. In other words, I respect elders because the Bible says I should. I can think of a number of supplemental reasons for why. But I do not have any special respect for anyone simply because of how long they’ve been on the planet. In fact, I have several very good reasons NOT to do that, because of how poorly I have seen such people behave. Those who are “adults” have demonstrated worse behavior than that of any minor I’ve ever met. I’ve met 13 year olds more mature than some 30 year olds. The vast majority of ills in the world are invariably caused by those older than me. Is that something to be proud of? Is that something to respect? Over half of the US Congress, both House and Senate, are senior citizens. Should we blame the young, then? I protest. To summarize: maturity doesn’t come with age, and those who are young are frequently more wise than the average person twice their age. The second observation is this: wisdom can be learned, and is better gotten through having the accumulated wisdom of those older than you bequeathed to you through instruction and/or demonstration, rather than having to strike out on your own, make mistakes, and learn through your own painful experiences. I’m extremely much wiser than I’ve ever been, and I don’t hesitate to say this – and I assure you it is not with pride that I state this, but for emphasis – I am wiser than most people under the age of 60. Here’s the important thing: it’s not my own wisdom. I got it from “sitting under” older men and learning from them. I made careful choices about what sources of information I would trust on the internet and over the course of 3 years I have learned so much I hardly know what to do with it. That’s, incidentally, part of what drives me to write. I’m trying to share what I know. And the funny thing is that right now, I’m talking about how I learned what I’ve learned, and not even what I’ve learned. It’s a meta-discussion. Although technically this is something I’ve learned, as well.Maturity, since it depends on the acquisition of wisdom, in part, can therefore be learned from others. You can mature slowly or quickly, just like with most things. Why take longer to become the person you’re meant to be? Take action to actively seek out sources of knowledge and wisdom and drink in what they impart to you. Only make sure that it is true and not false wisdom. That will take your own intellect to accomplish. The act of successfully choosing between good and bad, therefore, is in itself part of your growing process. I have matured not only in what I’ve learned from my online sources, but in the process I took to discover and evaluate them. Now I’ve learned how to approach thinking about new things that I don’t completely understand, and that I can now filter out bad from good and teach myself is evidence of my intellectual maturity. I have much further to go, for sure, but I went through mental “boot camp” at an early age, and now won’t have to make the associated mistakes related to having those experiences for myself. I’m in a better position to deal with the things that are coming toward me now and I’ll grow even more from going through them than I otherwise would. You could say that I’ve gotten a “jump start” to growing up, and my secret to doing so was simple: learn from the aged. Find someone in their 60s who has believed what they now believe for several decades, and you know that they’re not likely to doubt themselves. Consequently, they’ll be well equipped to address doubts and confusions that you might have. They’ve thought about what you believe for longer than you’ve been alive, so they’ve got a head start on you and can walk you through the challenges ahead of you better than you could on your own. That’s all. Maturity is not for granted, but it can be acquired faster and better through effort. So make the effort to find it, and wisdom and maturity “beyond your years” can be yours.