“Two years make a tremendous difference in the life of a young man. He goes out a boy and comes back a man. He goes out immature, he comes back mature and strong, gracious, and a worker and willing to serve. He goes back to college in most cases and there he will make higher grades than he ever made before, because he has purpose in his life. He is already enjoying purpose, and now he has a new purpose” (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, 590–91).
“Each of us, with discipline and effort, has the capacity to control his thoughts and his actions. This is part of the process of developing spiritual, physical, and emotional maturity” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1987, 57; or Ensign, May 1987, 47).
“Some weeks ago a man holding a high office in the Church asked a special favor of me. ‘Would you be good enough to take the time to listen while a mother, father, and their teenage daughter, special friends of mine, try to talk to each other?’
“As the four of us sat together, it immediately became obvious that all channels of communication were jammed with prejudice, threats, accusations, and resentment. As the verbal storms developed with bitter intensity, I found myself the only listener. Even though they had individually and collectively agreed I would be the counselor, judge, arbiter, or referee, if you please, I found myself waiting patiently for an opportunity to be heard. During the heated and emotional confrontation, the teenager repeatedly expressed her resentment with: ‘You can’t talk to me like that. I am an adult now. You can’t treat me like that. I am an adult now. You can’t dominate my life anymore. I am an adult now.’
“Each time she said ‘I am an adult now,’ I cringed. By definition, an adult is a person who has attained the age of maturity—full grown. While it is true a person may be legally classified as an adult when he or she reaches a certain age, for our purposes today the kind of adult status we are talking about must be earned by actions and attitude.
“I am not quite sure who has the right or responsibility to declare someone an adult, but I am quite certain that often the least qualified to make the declaration would be the individual himself. If a person is mature, he or she will not need to announce it. Personal conduct is the only true measurement of maturity. Adult classification, when it pertains to behavior, does not come with age, wrinkles, or gray hair. Perhaps it is not too far off the mark to say adult conduct is a process. Mature conduct is generally developed through self-discipline, resilience, and continuing effort.
“In fairness to the teenager, even though her declaration of ‘I am an adult now’ didn’t impress me favorably, there were times during the visit when I thought she showed more maturity than others in the room. When we who are more senior use an expression like ‘I am older than you’ to clinch a point, I am not too sure it is very effective. How much better it is to gain respect and love through worthy parental conduct than to seek it through the means of the age differential.
“Young men and young women worldwide, you, as well as your parents, need not announce or proclaim your maturity. By your faith and works you will be known for what you are. By your fruits you will be known and classified. Those among us who use abusive arguments, temper tantrums, demeaning and painful criticism, fruitless counter-complaints, and disrespect will benefit no one. Let us put away petty malice, resentment, and retaliatory practices that are self-destructive and return to a path of safety well marked by the Good Shepherd.
“It takes courage to flee from verbal contention. When maturity begins to set in, adult lives set in. ‘Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
“‘And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you’ (Ephesians 4:31–32). It is alarming how many older people go through life without ever becoming real adults.
“For many years I have had a very vivid picture in my mind of Jesus Christ standing before Pilate. While Jesus stood in front of an angry mob, who sneered and condemned, Pilate tried to get Him to respond and retaliate. He tried to get Him to declare himself a king. Jesus was silent. His life was his sermon. He was perfect in character, a worthy son, the Only Begotten of the Father. His maturity, if you please, would speak for itself” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1987, 78–79; or Ensign, May 1987, 65).
“Just as the capacity to defer gratification is a sign of real maturity, likewise the willingness to wait for deferred explanation is a sign of real faith and of trust spread over time” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1985, 91; or Ensign, May 1985, 71).
“We are here on earth to gain experience we can obtain in no other way. We are given the opportunity to grow, to develop, and to gain spiritual maturity. To do that, we must learn to apply truth. How we face challenges and resolve difficult problems is crucially important to our happiness” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1989, 38; or Ensign, Nov. 1989, 30).
“‘We live in a universe of moral law. We can choose evil and get what we want right now and then pay for it afterward. Or we can choose good and pay for it first, before we get it.’ (Fosdick.) So it is with a life of honesty and responsibility, of sexual purity, of integrity, of selfless service. …
“When Paul spoke of charity out of the ‘pure heart,’ I believe he was talking about the sense of honest, unselfish concern for others that is the mark of moral and spiritual maturity. … To truly care about others, to be considerate and kind and responsible reflects true maturity” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1967, 59–60).