In the fourth stage of Erik Erikson’s Theory of Emotional Development, the critical issue is industry versus inferiority.
This stage occurs during our early school years, between the ages of 6 and 12. We are learning, accomplishing and succeeding at this age. We also begin to develop our social skills with our peers — or not.
We learn to apply skills and processes productively, to seek out and respond to challenges, and to learn and become able to contribute and feel valued for those contributions to the group – or not.
If we experience failures in school tasks and at work, we begin to develop feelings of inferiority, inadequacy and worthlessness. We may get stuck at this point even though we have successfully navigated through the first three steps described earlier.
What many call the “bodily life” in a group of Jesus’ disciples can help create the affirmation needed to come out of this stage. We all have something to offer.
Shortly after our wedding, Beverly and I joined a church in Norcross, Georgia, which scheduled a meeting with us and the church’s director of education that same Sunday afternoon.
When we met him at church, he had a three-ring binder full of detailed descriptions of the many practical ministries and places to serve in the church for us to explore together. He wanted us to know that they were willing to help us get involved in areas in which we felt interested or gifted. What a great opportunity for a sense of purpose and purpose.
We were not created for lives of passive existence. Even in the beginning, Adam and Eve were created to fellowship with God and to help care for the world God created.
When you choose to be a follower of Jesus, the scriptures say you receive at least one specific spiritual gift designed just for you and for your part in the growth and joint ministry of other believers in the community and the world around you. .
I love this story: “As I stood in Carey’s Chapel in Calcutta, the remarkable life of William Carey lit up before me. At first glance, Carey would seem an unlikely missionary candidate.
“Born in 1761 in Paulerspury, England, an inland village, he was therefore deprived of the space of mind and spirit that characterizes port communities. He was nevertheless an avid student, although he left school in his early teens. His manners were provincial and coarse; he was physically unimpressive.
“At 14, he started an apprenticeship with a shoemaker, where he learned to make shoes. As a youngster, he was known to be dishonest. At 17, he was very impressed by the writings of Jonathan Edwards. He married at 20 and started preaching and teaching at 23.
“Finally, in Nottingham, in 1791, Carey preached his now famous sermon to a Baptist association on the text, ‘Enlarge the pitch of your tent’ (Isaiah 54:2). A phrase from that sermon has stood the test of time, challenging and inspiring many: “Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.
“Afterwards, Carey offered himself as a missionary to the London Missionary Society. His first wife, illiterate, reluctantly agrees to accompany him to India, arriving in Calcutta in 1794. The years that follow are hard and discouraging.
“The hardships, along with Mrs. Carey’s inability to adapt to a strange new world, drove her mad. William Carey refused to place her in an institution. Instead, he took care of her himself, a burden he carried gracefully for 14 years.
“Yet this slender man with an inquisitive mind and devoted heart was a formidable scholar. He learned alone Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Dutch, French and Italian. Even while plowing the land, he translated the Scriptures. All the while he witnessed, worked on, organized and fought against the issues of slavery and extortion.
“It was six years before he made his first convert. But Carey lived with the vision of attempting great things for God. He did not blame others for the world’s problems; rather, he strove to correct them.
Finding meaning, purpose, and satisfaction in life awaits those who are willing to engage in God-inspired, purpose-filled ministry to others.
Are you ready?