My family and I have taken several road trips over the past couple months. Normally my husband drives so I can read. Whenever I’m packing, I always remind myself and him that I want to reach our final destination before dark. There is a certain uneasiness that comes when we don’t know where we are going, and that uneasiness can quickly increase to anxiety when we are traveling in the dark. There is something quite frightful about not knowing where you are going, or worst, thinking you are on the right track and going in the right direction, when in fact, you are lost and traveling in the dark.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the ways we travel through life—whether we seek out the light or choose to continue in darkness. This summer, our congregation is reading James Bryan Smith’s book entitled, The Good and Beautiful Life: Putting on the Character of Christ. Before I cracked open the pages, I admired the clean presentation of the cover. Then I flipped over to the back of the book where a highlighted quote from the author reads, “I have never met a person whose goal was to ruin his or her life. We all want to be happy, and we want it all of the time.” I nodded my head in agreement, and yet in small and subtle ways we do make choices that can ruin our lives with no consideration of the consequences.
I believe one of the benefits of kingdom-minded mentoring is God’s grace in providing wise counselors to shine pockets of light when we are roaming in the darkness and to let us know when we are headed for danger. I’ve also been reading through the book of Proverbs recently.
Proverbs 15:22 NIV reads:
Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisors they succeed.
This proverb assumes the advisors are wise counselors, and it gives a warning against planning our way without the consideration of counsel. Wandering without the consideration of wise counsel can lead to failure and ruin.
Proverb 15:22 is such an important nugget for mentoring. It holds wisdom for both the mentor and mentee. Mentors have a responsibility to seek the Lord and offer wise counsel to those God has entrusted to their care. We have a responsibility to guide our mentees through uncharted territory and help them learn how to make wise choices for themselves.
Likewise, mentees who are unwilling to listen and learn from wise counsel may need to consider whether or not they really want a true mentoring relationship. There have been times when young people ask for mentoring but what they really want is a parent (someone to fill their mommy void or father wound), a best friend (someone they can vent to for hours until they feel better), or maybe even a professional counselor or therapist (someone who is going to tell them what to do and have them report back week after week). Any of these people have the ability to fulfill the role of mentor in the right context, but a mentor isn’t necessarily any of those things.
When someone agrees to mentor—particularly with the idea of discipleship in mind—they are agreeing to teach people how to follow Christ and live their life on purpose for his glory. Wisdom is not simply telling people what to do. Wisdom is helping people find their way through the darkness to see what is right according to God’s standard, and then encouraging them to courageously choose what is right.
Life can be challenging. Sometimes it is hard to know which way to go or how to put on the character of Christ. Yet, we can be confident in this, “that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Phil 1:6).”
We can make the choice to heed wise counsel, and seek out help and light when we are traveling through uncharted territory.
Why is it sometimes difficult to seek wise counsel?