A true spiritual parent or mentor will ascertain the gifts and the strengths of an individual. They will also look to the weaknesses as well as areas of change that can be worked on. But in the end, they look at both and encourage an individual to move forward towards completeness, wholeness and His pathway of purpose.
In the early 90’s I worked for a retail company. I worked in a lot of the locations. I traveled here and there adding “maturity” to their workplace as well as expertise. It was during that time I met some young men who over time became “friends”. As I moved up in the company they often contacted me with their business thinking and some conversations about faith and such.
One day I was working in another store and I had heard about the emergency that occurred in a previous store. Someone in fact, had had their eye “shot out”…not by a BB…but by a staple. (I saw the whole thing play out in my mind and knew who it was.)
Wisdom has the power to be learned outside the realm of experience, if one will listen. One of my spiritual parents said “experience is strong teacher, though often a harsh taskmaster. Listening and learning is much easier…”
The mentor or spiritual parent may or may not be involved in the “goal setting” but is instrumental in walking with the person setting out on their journey. My past spiritual parents provided a lot of valuable counsel and objective input over the years. (Objectivity ought not be tangled in emotions. Also counsel is sought after after, whereas “advice” is often given with out being asked for. Now I am not saying those that do not ask could not use a hand, but control is not part of the walk. Each person is to exercise self control.)
Once a person establishes where they are going, what they want to do, it is the wise spiritual parent who helps monitor, suggesting adjustments along the way and counsel as needed. The largest benefit I incurred in this area was keeping my eye on the ball, while making sure God was on my radar screen. This helped me make sure my pursuit of God and His plan did not get derailed. (You can read more about this pattern in 1 & 2 Timothy.)
My young friend who was injured came to me a lot about his future with work and business. A very little about his spiritual path. It was only when the frivolous accident caused him the the loss of his sight did he decide to “get serious” about God on any level. One day he came to me for prayer at my home. I never saw him again after our meeting on the front porch. He lost his job, his dignity and his credibility in the business world. (The last time I “checked” in on him, he was still embittered, blaming others and refusing to accept true responsibility for his piece of the fooling around. You can “shoot your eye out”.)
I get it. No one likes to be wrong about things. But a true spiritual parent will help you to embrace the truth and walk you over or through it. They will encourage you towards the greater ending, the bigger picture.
Today, if you are walking with folks, ask yourself, are you guiding them towards implementation of the endeavors necessary to make their “goals”? And for those who look to mentors and spiritual parents are you allowing them the freedom to give counsel without being dishonoring? “Parents”, do you value their goals and directions even when they may not be your direction? (I am not talking about sinful actions, but different paths.)”Young people”, are you valuing the wisdom of those who have gone before?
My young friend could have saved himself a lot of heartache. I had multiple conversations with him about fooling around prior to the incident. I know that George Bernard Shaw said that “youth is wasted on the young” but I happen to see more folks turning to their “elders” than ever before.
I will say there are two things related to counsel and advice that are on my list of pet peeves. (And before I write them, let me say I have done them.) It concerns me that people will seek direction, counsel or advice and then disregard it. What is the point? And just as much, is watching someone getting ready to make a decision that affects their “whole” life (Two fold meaning there!)and they are never inquiring of anyone.
First let me say, I believe God speaks to people and the key is listening. But I also believe He uses the body. (And I do not believe He is going to tell you something that is contrary to His word, devoid of love, grace and mercy.”) On both sides of the coin listening is the key. My children will tell you, I have not always agreed with their choices, but I respect their freedom to do what they choose. (Unless it is illegal or sinful and then I will say something…Maybe even a couple of times!)
Freedom is key. Today there is a strong desire that has erupted to “control or be controlled”. This is not God or His purpose. Consider that when striking out on your own or walking with someone. Wisdom walks in freedom.