Maturity and Responsibility


On a surprise birthday celebration for my youngest brother last Saturday, his friends spoke about it as they described him and gave their birthday messages. Later that day, we had a family Bible study on the parable of the fig tree and touched on the idea of maturity as well. The next day, my dad and I discussed the topic too.

Big word. Relevant topic. But a quality that seems more and more of a rarity these days.

And the reason I think partly is that we’ve separated maturity from the idea of taking on responsibility well.

Let me share a message I sent to my brother recently:

Josh, I want to share this with you especially as you approach your birthday and coming from the very good words your friends spoke about you last Saturday.

Then I shared the photo below:

– David Brooks, The Road to Character

Maturity comes from the word ripe. Meaning there is fruit, and that it is ready to eat, good to nourish and satisfy others.

My best advice to you today is to take on as much responsibility as you can and commit to daily keeping them through long hard slogs. It will develop your character and make you ready to serve especially when you are launched into the world.

Good friends are good, going to church is good, and being good at school is good. But character and maturity will not be developed by having those alone. It will need those things, sure, but it will need more than just those for maturity and character to develop in you.

The most effective people I know have taken upon themselves huge loads of responsibility at a young age (some willingly, some because of ambition, some because of their personality, some because of need—think our parents) and carry this with them when they are old. Develop a strong sense of responsibility at a very young age and you will develop maturity.

Volunteer to take on a project at home. Spot a home improvement you can take ownership of. Be the first to answer the door. Set the table for breakfast every morning—weekends and weekdays. These are just some very simple examples. I guarantee you 90% of your peers at your age are NOT doing any of that. They are too busy becoming “celebrities” wanting to be liked in school, on the Internet, or by the person they like. Focus on growing your inner self. And be driven by a desire to honor God by stewarding well what you’ve been entrusted. You have our support and love.

It’s not going to be easy. In fact, things won’t get any easier from hereon. But you can train yourself so that the diligence that is required to develop character and maturity becomes natural. (Think about Malaya. It is easier for a baby to babble than to construct words and form sentences together. Language does not become easier as one grows but only becomes more complex. But because he is daily exposed to it and frankly has no choice but to learn it, it also becomes natural eventually. So it is as you grow up. Things will not get easier, only more complex. But with constant training you will develop stronger social, mental, emotional, and spiritual muscles so that bearing the weight of responsibilities eventually becomes natural too.)

Looking mature is incredibly easy, especially nowadays. Speak a few “words of wisdom”, be inspiring, but still look like you can blend in with the cool kids, take a video of yourself, write a blog, post it online, get huge followers, and voila! now you look mature!

But real maturity is deep and unseen. It is developed with diligence, cultivated over time, and founded on strong character. This is why responsibility is necessary. For without responsibility there is nothing to be diligent for, nothing to be cultivated that spans long and different seasons of pain and disappointment, and nothing that will require the testing of one’s character.


Make No Excuses for Bad Behavior


There’s been plenty of disciplining my son Malaya recently. As a toddler, he now knows how to express his likes and preferences—which is great in general! This means that he now knows how to say “no”, pick what clothes to wear, and refuse my request for occasional hugs.

But many times, this also means he now knows how to break rules, and willfully disobey his parents.

As I think about our reasons for why we believe disciplining is important for our little boy, I am reminded that they apply to adults too. Two stand out below:

1. There are no excuses for bad behavior.

That includes age, gender, mood, what time of the day it is, and whether you’ve already had breakfast or not.

Whether you’re 40 or 4 years old, bad manners are terrible things to have. Just because you woke up on the wrong side of the bed doesn’t give you a hall pass to be cranky all day. Disobedience is disobedience whether or not the baby has gotten his milk, whether or not the Christian has gotten his prayer request.

Even if a church kid took a toy from Malaya by force, that does not give Malaya an excuse to hit back, be rude, or throw a tantrum.

There are no excuses for bad behavior. Not when you’re a toddler, not when you’re an adult. Proper discipline is a good reminder for that.

2. Temporary pain today is better than deeper pain tomorrow.

Real discipline involves some level of pain. It would not be real discipline if it were not so.

But the pain of a spank in the butt, or a 5-minute time-out is tiny compared to future real-life consequences of bad behavior and poor choices that could be prevented with proper discipline. Because we love our son, we discipline him today even when it might sometimes be painful for him.

For adults, this is akin to delayed gratification. Because I want a better life in the future, I discipline myself today even when it might sometimes be painful for me.

My wife and I are not raising a child; we’re raising an adult. And as he grows we hope for discipline to be part of his life even through adulthood.

Discipline never really leaves you. It just transitions from being externally initiated, to being internally motivated. And people who consciously carry it through become the most productive, high integrity, character-strong, effective adults I know.

The hope that sustains

She sings Give Thanks with her hands raised
While before her eyes her husband lay
Suited up, dressed very well
Laid to rest, an empty shell

Her only hope that will sustain
“To live is Christ, to die is gain”

He leads the chorus to Amazing Grace
She invites the rest to join in praise
In the same room, their dad’s remains
Just days ago their last embrace

Yet there’s joy in the midst of loss and pain
“To live is Christ, to die is gain”

He enters now into heaven’s gates
Leaving behind his earthly frame
A life well lived only to proclaim
Jesus, name above all names

His source of strength ’til his final day
“To live is Christ, to die is gain”

We will miss you ninong Geno. Thank you for your life’s example. Tita Patti, Ina, Eli, we love you. Krisha and I pray for comfort for your family, and strength for the difficult days. We are inspired and encouraged by your faith and courage, especially during these past few days!

Dear Malaya

Dear Malaya,

We are hours away from welcoming you into the world. We really can’t wait to see you.

Three things I am praying over your life.

You will be strong.

You will be a happy, energetic, playful, healthy boy.

We are praying for you and your mom as she labors to give birth. She is strong and brave. She is in pain but she is joyful. Beautiful, really. Trust me, you will find it easy to fall in love with her.

You will not be alone.

We pray to be the best parents we can be to you. To love you, teach you, discipline you, have fun with you, and model a life worth living.

Our friends and family will help us raise you to grow in faith, character, and wisdom.

You will love Jesus.

It is a dark and broken world you are coming into, but you will let your light shine before others.

You will learn to read the Word and pray. You will love Jesus and walk with others who do. You will fulfill God’s purposes in your life.

I can’t believe we’re finally here. See you soon.

Eric Pops

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”

– Psalm 139:13-14

People Will Tell of our Story

A “letter” I wrote for my wife two years before we first met.

July 13, 2008

People Will Tell of our Story.

Because I have you in mind, I choose to settle for nothing less than the person that you are. And because I have you in mind, I choose to not be anything less than the person that you deserve. I choose to settle for nothing less than what God has in mind.

I look forward to stressing over a proposal. I look forward to hearing you say “yes” and “I do.” I look forward to tucking you in bed at night. I look forward to serving breakfast for you in the morning. I look forward to both of us washing the dishes. I look forward to both of us leaving them at the table. I look forward to loving you, even when I love you now.

Yes, I love you now. I choose to, because I know I can by doing all this with you in mind.

I hope you’re as crazy about me as I am about you; crazy that I write this without knowledge of who you are, your name, how you look like, or how we’ll even meet—yet, at least. Maybe I’ve seen you already; maybe I haven’t. One thing’s for sure though, all this is worth doing because of you.

One day I’ll see your face, know your name, know you, and know you’re the one God’s been getting me all excited about. You’re the one to kiss at the altar, hoping you saved your first for me as well.

I hope you’re praying with and for me as I do for you. (Pray with and for me, that I don’t eat these words.)

To you who is (hopefully my first and) my last, in time, your name will replace the yous in this letter. In time, there’ll be a face for the person I had in mind while writing all this. In time.

Head over heels and sweeping you off your feet,


Continue reading “People Will Tell of our Story”

The Holiday Post

Gift-giving is a huge thing in our family, in general. Whether that’s for Christmas, for someone’s birthday, or my parents’ anniversary, giving gifts (plus the surprise that should go with it) is always a matter of  importance. So much that even when some people  don’t have the means to do just that yet
(people, as in the non-working members in the family), we find ways.

For instance, my dad asked me and my brother a few days before Christmas if we had already gotten a gift for my mom. But just as I was about to answer, Continue reading “The Holiday Post”