Artificial Maturity—How To NOT Break Up With Your Girlfriend

Artificial Maturity is a must-read book by Dr. Tim Elmore for parents, pastors, youth pastors, teachers, coaches, and managers—anyone who works with youth.

Gentle Correction

As a parent (and a pastor), delivering correction is one of my least favorite things to do. But it must be done.

The apostle Paul seemed to feel the same way. We get some insight into his heart in his letter to the Corinthians, where he reminds them of why he had to write such a stern letter of correction.

For I wrote to you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you. (2 Corinthians 2:4)

The loving shepherd’s heart longs for the advancement, the betterment, of all the sheep under his care. He is hurt when his sheep are wounded. His approach to discipline is always gentle; not weak, but strength lovingly applied.

The loving shepherd looks at his own life first, before correcting the sheep, to address anything he may have done or failed to do which caused the sheep to stray.

The loving shepherd knows that discipline may be painful for a moment, but it is to bring greater life. Just as a parent will allow a child to suffer the momentary pain of an immunization injection, to spare that child the unbearable pain of a disease later on.

And the loving shepherd always approaches a time of correction with “confidence in all of you, that you would all share my joy” (v. 3). The shepherd doesn’t view them as “dumb sheep” that cannot improve; rather, he is confident and assured that they will receive loving correction and make the change that leads to joy for all.

UPDATE: If you want to dive deeper into the ideas of being a shepherd leader, please check out my book Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter.

Artificial Maturity—How To NOT Get A Job

Artificial Maturity is a must-read book by Dr. Tim Elmore for parents, pastors, youth pastors, teachers, coaches, and managers—anyone who works with youth.

Thursdays With Oswald—Examination

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.


     Sin destroys the power of the soul to know its sin, punishment brings awakening, self-examination brings chastisement and saves the soul from sleeping sickness, and brings it into a healthy satisfaction. 

From Biblical Psychology

There’s so much to unpack in this single sentence…

  • We are very good at self-medicating away any pain (even spiritual pain), so that we never address the source of the pain (Ephesians 4:18).
  • I can be “sin sick” and not even know it because I’m not allowing the Holy Spirit to examine me (1 Corinthians 10:12).
  • The pain of punishment and chastisement is for my eternal benefit (Hebrews 12:5-11).

What do I need to do? Invite the examination of the Spirit:

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends You, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. (Psalm 139:23-24)

So let a person examine himself first, and then he may eat of the bread and drink from the cup; for a person who eats and drinks without recognizing the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. This is why many among you are weak and sick, and some have died! If we would examine ourselves, we would not come under judgment. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined, so that we will not be condemned along with the world. (1 Corinthians 11:28-32)

10 Quotes From “Artificial Maturity”

The other day when I posted my review of Artificial Maturity by Dr. Tim Elmore, I said that for anyone working with children, tweens, teens, or young adults this book is a must-read. I don’t say that about very many books, but it is definitely true of this one (you can read my full review here).

Let me share with you ten of my favorite quotes from this book. Unless otherwise noted, all of the quotes are from Dr. Elmore…

“In short, the artificial maturity dilemma can be described this way: (1) Children are overexposed to information, far earlier than they’re ready. (2) Children are underexposed to real-life experiences far later than they’re ready.”

“Steps to take to build authentic maturity:

  1. Provide autonomy and responsibility simultaneously.
  2. Provide information and accountability simultaneously.
  3. Provide experiences to accompany their technology-savvy lifestyles.
  4. Provide community service opportunities to balance their self-service time.”

“For the most part, adults have failed to build true ‘life skills’ in kids. We haven’t helped them self-regulate and make decisions about concerns that matter. Students’ busy schedules often aren’t all that meaningful, and young people spiral downward into despair over relatively trivial issues. Their days are full of artificial activities with artificial consequences, resulting in artificial maturity. The stress is real, but it is often over things that don’t really matter, and it isn’t building mature people.”

“We must be parents, not pals. We must be coaches, not coddlers. And we must lead them, not just lecture them.”

“Analysts say there are increasing signs that a lack of independence fuels stress, anxiety, and depression among young people. …Kids’ early lives today are too full of information and structure, and too empty of innocence and the freedom to play and explore. But by adolescence, it’s almost the opposite. It’s as though they experience a flip-flop. Their lives are too full of freedom, and too empty of accountability.”

“This appears to be a paradoxical trend—[adolescents] expressing a decline in readiness to actually ‘be’ adults that is proportionate to their desire to leave home. …They want to be consumers but not necessarily contributors. …Our job is to prepare the child for the path, not the path for the child.”

“The fact is, kids—all kids—need adults to lead them well. In our mad obsession to remain cool and on the cutting edge of everything, adults have surrendered what may be their most important responsibility: to provide role models to the next generation. We might win at the game of being liked, but we lose at the game of leading well.”

“For our teens, we’ve defined nurturance largely in terms of the things we can do for them, the stuff we can buy them, and the experiences and opportunities we can provide. In reality, what most teens need is neither more stuff, nor more lessons, nor do most teens even need more tender, loving care or quality time. While young children need a great deal of parental nurturance in the form or direct assistance geared toward meeting their needs, adolescents need something different. Unlike children, teens’ bodies and brains most need us to nurture and develop capacities to function on their own in this world. This means expecting things of them, not just giving things to them.” —Drs. Joseph & Claudia Worrell

“Five parental decisions:

  • Decide that you will build a bridge of relationship that can bear the weight of hard truth.
  • Decide that it’s more important for you to have their respect than for them to like you.
  • Decide that it’s more important for you to pass on essential values than to just have fun.
  • Decide that it’s more important for them to be ready for the future than to be comfortable.
  • Decide to pass on the principles (values) you wish you’d known earlier in life.”

“As adults, we have done a poor job in getting this generation of kids ready for life. If they flounder, it is because we’ve focused on preparing the path for the children instead of the children for the path. I believe in this next generation. These kids are great, and they’re capable of much more than we’ve expected. We have not led them well. We’ve allowed them to mature artificially by default. We’re protected them instead of preparing them for life as adults. It’s time we get them ready to lead the way into the future.”

If You’re Going To Do It, Then Do It

Have you ever watched someone attempt something they really didn’t want to do? Like when a parent asks a child to pull weeds in the garden—they go grumbling, dragging their feet, finding excuses to delay starting, pull a couple of weeds, and then complain about the heat. Is it any wonder that the job takes twice as long and is completed half as well as it should have been?!?

Solomon wrote this:

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might… (Ecclesiastes 9:10).

In other words, it’s like my Mom used to always remind me: If anything’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well!

Don’t go halfway. Put all you’ve got into it and get it done. And done well.

I think Solomon (and my Mom) would have loved Seth Godin’s blog post called Outsmart





















In my opinion, no one should work harder, more enthusiastically, better, smarter, and more lovingly than one who calls themselves a follower of Jesus Christ. Check out my ongoing series of posts on godly leadership.

Open Door

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on Apple or Spotify.

The phrase open door shows up several times in the New Testament, and it shows up quite a bit in the present-day vocabulary of many Christians too. But I’m not sure we mean the same thing.

I hear Christians saying things like, “I’m praying for God to open a door for a new job,” or “I’m waiting to see what door God will open for my schooling,” or something to that effect. In other words, the open door seems to be for our personal benefit.

The apostle Paul said this:

A great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me (1 Corinthians 16:9).

Let’s get one thing clear: God opens doors (we don’t), and our job is to obediently walk through those open doors (God won’t shove us through them).

Paul knew that the open door was not for his benefit, but for the benefit of those who were presently outside of the Kingdom of God. God opens doors for His people so that those outside His Kingdom can come inside (see Acts 14:27; 2 Corinthians 2:12; Colossians 4:3).

It might look like God opened a door by providing a job, but that job is His means to help you invite others into His Kingdom. The open door (the job, in this case) isn’t primarily for you; it’s for you to invite others in.

That’s why when God opens doors there will be many who oppose you. They are not really opposing you, but they are opposing the opportunity for the kingdom of darkness to be robbed and the Kingdom of God to be enriched.

So when you pray for open doors, remember:

  • When God opens a door, it’s mainly for the benefit of those outside the Kingdom of Heaven
  • You will be opposed by the kingdom of darkness

If you’re ready for both of those, then by all means pray for open doors!

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? ◀︎◀︎

Artificial Maturity (book review)

When I posted my review of Tim Elmore’s previous book Generation iY, I said that book earned a rare “must read” rating from me. Whether you read that book or not, Artificial Maturity has earned the coveted must-read rating again!

If Generation iY described who this current youth generation is, Artificial Maturity describes how to help these youth achieve genuine maturity. Here’s how Dr. Elmore sets the stage for this book from the very first page:

“…I believe in this generation like none before. I believe they have the potential to be the greatest generation—a population Warren Bennis calls the “Crucible Generation.” He and many others believe these young people may just be the ones who transform society globally and restore democracy and goodwill.

I believe this with one caveat. I predict all this is possible if we, the adults, will rethink the way we parent, lead, teach, coach, pastor, and manage them. It’s up to us what kinds of adults our kids will become. So far, many of them are a part of a leaderless generation. The adults have done more protecting than preparing. Some moms and dads want to be pals rather than parents. And many adults are just overwhelmed with the notion of leading kids today—and they surrender their role as leaders.”

So this is not a book that tells you how to change kids, but how we as adults must change.

With persuasive evidence, scientific studies, personal observations, and years of hands-on experience, Dr. Elmore so accurately details how we as parents have contributed to our kids becoming artificially mature. In other words, they know lots of things, but they don’t know how to effectively apply that knowledge to be productive at work, school, and in relationships. 

I, too, share Dr. Elmore’s optimism about this generation. But if I want to see my kids—and other young people with whom I interact—excel and mature, I have to look at myself in the mirror. This generation can’t succeed if we continue to parent, and teach, and pastor, and manage as we have been doing.

I cannot urge pastors, youth pastors, parents, teachers, principals, coaches, and employers to read Artificial Maturity right away! This generation needs us to help them soar!

I am a Jossey-Bass book reviewer.

UPDATE: Read some of my favorite quotes from Artificial Maturity by clicking here.

Perfect? Yes!

The opening words of Psalm 119 describe the end result of going through what I’m calling the P119 Spiritual Workout. In a word: Blessed.

In fact, this word is so exciting that the Hebrew language uses the emphatic thought here. Bringing that into English means that the first two verses of this chapter both begin…

O!! How blessed!!

That’s a wonderful goal, but the next two verses seem to bring us crashing back to earth. In order to enjoy these heights of blessing we are asked to live like this:

  • They do nothing wrong as they walk in His ways (v. 3).
  • God’s precepts are to be fully obeyed (v. 4).

Yikes! Nothing wrong?! Full obedience?! No mistakes?!

Even Jesus said, “Be perfect, therefore, as your Heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).

But pay attention to this: The sign of a maturing Christian is not one who never sins; the sign of a maturing Christian is one who is closing the gap between sin and repentance.

How does that work? Here’s the progression…

Realization of sinRepentance of sin → Restoration of God’s blessing

The time gap between our repentance and God’s restoration is faster than the blink of an eye—faster than you can even comprehend. What often takes us a while is moving from realization to repentance. Instead, we explain, and justify, and make excuses, and drag our feet.

But a maturing Christian invites the inspection of the Holy Spirit through the reading of God’s Word and then is quick to realize sin and repent from it. When God restores us, do you know how we appear to Him? PERFECT!!

So realizing our sin, repenting of that sin, and experiencing God’s restoration is the fastest way to live as those who do nothing wrong and who are fully obeying God’s precepts.

Don’t wait any longer: realize and repent, and then experience God’s restoration as you stand perfect in His presence!

If you have missed any of the messages in our P119 series, you can access them all by clicking here.

Be Pleased To Visit Your Church

Several folks have asked me to share the prayer from Charles Spurgeon that I used to open our service this morning.

Dear God, 

Be pleased to visit Your Church with the Holy Spirit.

Renew the day of Pentecost in our midst, and in the midst of all gatherings of Your people, may there come the downfall of the holy fire, and the uprising of the heavenly wind. 

May matters that are now slow and dead become quick and full of life, and may the Lord Jesus Christ be exalted in the midst of His Church which is His fullness.

May multitudes be converted; may they come flocking to Christ with holy eagerness to find in Him a refuge as the doves fly to their dovecotes. 


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