Seven Stages of Life
You live, you love, and you die. Perhaps that is oversimplification. Life can be smooth and easy one moment and a combined skydiving, bull ride the next. Getting in and out of this world can even be complex. 7 stages of the human life are explored below. In common terms, the stages are in order: 1) Infancy, 2) Youth; 3) Early adulthood, 4) Midlife adulthood, 5) Seasoned adulthood, 6) Senior adulthood, and ultimately 7) Death. For the purposes of this discussion they will be named in more notable terms. While the stages cannot always be nailed to exact ages, nor are they applicable to every person, there is a large portion of people who slide easily into them.
Stage 1 – Adorability
In the beginning, amidst pain, tears, and hope, a little alien creature who looks like it has been dipped in transmission fluid enters the world. It is naked, surrounded by strangers, and then wacked on the behind. The reaction of the proud parents and lookers on is smiles, oohs and ahs, and joy. This tiny human is a miracle of God. It has adorability! It is also helpless and without understanding. The infant does not have any idea it has two parents on its side who would give anything to make sure it is happy. Yet, its greatest asset is the fact it has been created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26). The child has not come in the world with hate in its heart. It has not come bearing a grudge. The infant has not inherited sin (Ezekiel 18:20). The infant does not know it was created perfect and upright in the sight of God (Ezekiel 28:15, Ecclesiastes 7:29). The infant has no clue the rest of mankind is encouraged to be renewed to a true self which is like the infant – the image of God (Colossians 3:10).
The infant, soon to be a young child, is in a state of adorability. People will hang on every coo, grin, and laugh. They will relish and remember the first steps. They will recall the first words with the same happiness as if the child had found a gold mine. How many pictures have been taken of the child with green peas all over their head? And floor? And wall? And parent? Adorability! The child only needs to grow at this stage. As a Christian grows on the milk of the Word (1 Peter 2:2), the child grows on milk and onto other more mature foods. Their minds are great sponges at this time. What they see and are taught, they input in preparation for the future. Historically, Jewish children were taught the written Torah (First 5 books of the Bible and Prophets) at the age of five and by the age of ten the Oral torah (verbal explanation of the laws). Were they adorable? Yes. Treated as if their young brains couldn’t learn? No. Man has a responsibility to prepare their children for life (Proverbs 22:6).
Stage 2 – Accountability
This stage of human life is characterized by an understanding of instruction and consequences. The question has oft been asked about when a child is accountable. Looking back in history again, Jewish children were considered accountable to the law at the ages of 12 for girls and 13 for boys. So is this the God given age to be accountable? Chronicles 34:1-2 speaks of King Josiah, “Josiah did that which was right in the sight of the Lord.” He was eight. Jesus at the age of 12 understood he was accountable to the Father (Luke 2:49). Children reach the age of accountability at different ages. If they can receive instruction and understand the consequence to it, they have reached that point. When they know they have transgressed instruction and it pains their conscience, they have reached the stage of accountability. They are no longer in the stage of innocent adorability.
The age of accountability is not that of adulthood. Yes, there are some folks that seem to shirk accountability into adulthood (Proverbs 18:2), but that does not mean they are not accountable. The age of accountability begins when the child is still reliant upon others. Their family takes the responsibility for feeding, clothing, educating, and caring for them. They need discipline as well (Proverbs 22:15). There is a need for continual growth in knowing God (Deuteronomy 6:6-9). The child is but a novice in a great big world. In the age of accountability the following is said about Jesus: “ And Jesus advanced in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” (Luke 2:52) Jesus not only grew in physically and in wisdom, but also in His spiritual relationship with God, and social relationship with men. These steps of growth prepared Him to engage the challenges he would meet.
Stage 3 – Acceptability
For the Jewish man, his profession began when he turned 20. For the American, it often begins at 18 or 19. There are similarities in other countries. This is the time of acceptability. The young adult accepts responsibility for themselves and quite frequently within a short time the responsibility of caring for others. The stage of acceptability is characterized by searching for an identity in society. Who are they really? What are their goals? Are they prepared to accept the responsibility most young adults crave? Will they step up or fall into laziness (2 Thessalonians 3:10). Will they forget their father’s instruction (Proverbs 9:6)?
The stage of acceptability is a time not only of accepting full responsibility for self, home, family, work, and spiritual life, but also finding acceptance from society by being productive. Many a young adult has entered this stage rebellious and lazy. They try to throw off accountability, but will find they cannot succeed in doing so. They will also find in not accepting responsibility, wide portions of society will reject them. This is a time of growth and some of the most difficult ups and downs an adult can experience. Mistakes in behavior, relationships, and everyday decisions characterize this stage. Though parents have tried to prepare the young adult for this timeframe, a great deal of pain is often felt during this period – especially if the Bible is not the guiding force in the person’s life (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Growth must continue! Preparation for the future is an issue, unfortunately, the now, the moment, is often embraced by the young adult (Proverbs 12:15).
Stage 4 – Adjustability
The midlife crisis or the stage of adjustability is very common. The young adult full of confidence, dreams, and energy hits the point where they realize they are late 30’s / early 40’s and things have not turned out as they expected. Perhaps they don’t have the possessions they thought they would. Perhaps their health is already at a risky stage. It is possible they have ruined relationships, are deep in debt, and have nothing to show for 20 years of self-indulgence and poor decision making. Reality comes into focus at this point for many. They are seeing the effects their decisions have made on their own children. They are lost and perhaps death seems a lot closer to them than ever. The prodigal son comes to mind (Luke 15). He left home thinking he had the world by the tail. After a period of time, he found himself broke, alone, and wanting to eat what the pigs were eating. Things didn’t turn out how he thought they would.
The stage of adjustment is about making a change to better things. Many former drug addicts describe a point of realization about their destructive behavior. They made adjustment to their life and dropped the bad habits. Midlife is in no sense the end. It’s the middle of a race, where you stop to lace up your shoes, take a drink of water, and wipe the sweat off your forehead. It is a time to focus on the prize, not looking behind, but forward to the great possibility of the future (Philippians 3:13-14). This applies spiritually (as in the context of the mentioned verse) and to daily events. This time is really when a person finds the identity they were looking for years before. Reality stares right back at them at asks, “What are you going to do now?” Without hesitation, the best step is cling to God and look for His direction (Matthew 5:3). God has given man the answers (2 Peter 1:3). Most certainly, the solution to the problems at hand is focus on the things above and not below (Colossians 3:2). God is going to take care of the basics of life if man puts Him first (Matthew 6:33). When a focus of priorities is straight, good stewardship, continued work, and service to God will be the adjustment needed. This humbling time is when man often realizes after half a lifetime, he really has room to grow in being a better person. This is also when preparations for the future really come into focus (Luke 14:28-33, Ephesians 6:15)
Stage 5 – Admirability
The stage of admirability is when years of experience, responsibility, and stability are recognized. Fewer mistakes are made at this point in life. The individual is entrusted with greater responsibilities whether at work, within society, or in His Church. This person understands that God knows His sins and his foolish past is an open book (Psalm 69:5). The difference between now and then is he has gained wisdom. He has turned his life around and become a mature man. He has become part of the “and such were some of you” crowd (I Corinthians 6:11). Often the fulfillment of financial blessings becomes evident at this point in life. 30 years of ups and downs have finally brought a sigh of relief. Perhaps the boat, the quads, the travel trailer, and a larger home, have been procured. Having found his identity in the face of crisis, what will be the identity in the face of success? Will he turn from or embrace God further?
The stage of admirability has its challenges and opportunities to be sure. Ego and desire can easily rear their ugly heads (I John 2:16). Due to the fact, this individual has braved the waters of life and survived, folks look to him as an example. If all of the bad habits have not been tossed aside, this can be trouble. The wrong influence can be a great destroyer (Luke 6:29, I Corinthians 8:9-13, I Corinthians 15:33). However, great good can also be done at this time of life. The energy level is still good. The ability to get things done is present. The network of connections has been built. People will be willing to follow, because they admire and believe. The choice of direction is in within the hand of the individual. Romans 12:2: “And be not fashioned according to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, and ye may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God”. What will happen with this God given opportunity? The wise man will continue to build his relationship with God. He will see himself as nothing without God. He will work to continue growing (2 Peter 3:18). This stage is but a plateau extending to higher peaks. There is still much life left and proper preparation for the future is required.
Stage 6 – Advisability
The highest physical stage met in life is that of a senior. Yet, it may also be characterized by fragility of body. The aches and pains have increased, movement is slower, and strength will never be what it was. Sometimes the thoughts won’t come back to memory as quick as desired. Many look upon this as a time of futility or even senility. What a terrible misconception! A lifetime of experiences and a wealth of knowledge dwells within the senior adult. The ability to direct and advise others to avoid the pitfalls of life is at its peak. A life properly led gives the senior adult the highest of qualifications to lead. God has stated in times past: “Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly.” (Leviticus 19:32) Job a faithful man of God declared in Job 12:12, “Wisdom is with aged men, With long life is understanding.”
One of the biggest challenges for the senior is not giving up on life. Many societies look to a weaker body and gray hair as a sign of uselessness. This is the foolish wisdom of men. Not only does the senior have the responsibility to guide society, but their sphere of influence ranges from the senior to the young mind of their grandchildren. It is quite possible the senior no longer works a secular job. Rather than sit and do nothing with the time, neglected tasks of the past can be accomplished. For the spiritually minded individual, this is a time to be very active in teaching and studying with others. It will be found the greatest joy at this stage in helping others. The senior should not worry about dynamics. Dynamics is not what God desires, he desires the truth be spread (I Corinthians 2:1-2). For the one who has neglected God, his whole life, it is time to wake up (Acts 17:30-31, Hebrews 2:2-3). Is the senior sure he is fine in the eyes of God? Paul told the Corinthian people, “Let he who thinks he stands, beware, lest he fall.” (I Corinthians 10:12) A senior adult can be a great joy and blessing to all around them. They can inspire, encourage, and comfort. The senior is a light which should not be covered, but shone brightly for all (Luke 11:33). In these moments, the senior should continue to grow in their relationship with God and men. The preparation for the stage of admissibility should not be delayed.
Stage 7 – Admissibility
In reflection upon all of the stages, it will be noted this last stage is quite different. It is greater than simply the unique ending “ibility” vs. the other six stages of “ability”. Though, the other stages have been influenced by one’s abilities and the abilities of others. The stage of admissibility is man before God. Will man be admissible into the kingdom of heaven? The judgment will be a direct reflection of the decisions a man has made in his lifetime. There will be no more time to change. There will be no second chances.
Matthew 16:27 – For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then shall he render unto every man according to his deeds.
Galatians 6:7 – Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
Romans 2:6-9 …[God] will render to every man according to his works: to them that by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and incorruption, eternal life: but unto them that are factious, and obey not the truth, but obey unrighteousness, shall be wrath and indignation, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that worketh evil…
2 Thessalonians 1:7-10 – …and to you that are afflicted rest with us, at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with the angels of his power in flaming fire, rendering vengeance to them that know not God, and to them that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus: who shall suffer punishment, even eternal destruction from the face of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be marvelled at in all them that believed (because our testimony unto you was believed) in that day.