Have you heard the story about the child in Sunday School class? The teacher asked a question about what the Bible story they’d just heard was about. This child raised a hand and said, “I don’t know what the question means, but I know ‘Jesus’ is the right answer.” What a profound answer. As a follower of Christ, wisdom, direction, decisions and choices all need to be filtered through our faith in Jesus. As mentors, we may not always have all the right answers. Even if we have the right answers for us, they might not be right for our mentees. Even if they are the right answers for our mentees, they have more “buy in” if they come to the answer themselves. Yes, the right answer is always to point them to Jesus.
We may have some wisdom as we’ve accumulated years of studying the Scriptures and walking in the counsel of the Holy Spirit. It’s good to be available to share that wisdom with someone else. The ultimate goal, though, is to teach another how to rely on the Holy Spirit’s guidance for themselves. The Bible says in Isaiah 48:17, 18, “This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: ‘I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow. Oh, that you had listened to my commands! Then you would have had peace flowing like a gentle river and righteousness rolling over you like waves in the sea. This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel,’” God teaches (mainly through the Scriptures) the right path to follow and the outcome of following Him is awesome.
A story in Scripture teaches the sometimes horrible consequences of following human advice. Ahithophel was one of King David’s advisors. When David’s son, Absolom, decided to rebel and seize the throne for himself, Ahithophel joined the conspiracy and became one of Absolom’s advisors. This was Ahithophel’s advice for furthering Absolom’s influence and position: “‘Go and sleep with your father’s concubines, for he has left them here to look after the palace. Then all Israel will know that you have insulted your father beyond hope of reconciliation, and they will throw their support to you.’ So they set up a tent on the palace roof where everyone could see it, and Absalom went in and had sex with his father’s concubines. Absalom followed Ahithophel’s advice, just as David had done. For every word Ahithophel spoke seemed as wise as though it had come directly from the mouth of God.” (2 Samuel 16:21-23) I don’t know in what universe this would sound like godly advice! The point is, neither the advisor (Ahithophel) nor Absolom knew the Scriptures nor inquired of God to find the right way. This is what we do not want to do as mentors. We need to get wise counsel from the Scripture. Pray together. Seek counsel that is truly from God and don’t be carried away by wild schemes that have no place in God’s will. (Of course Absolom was way off base from the beginning in trying to usurp the place of God’s anointed King David.)
Paul had a much healthier plan for mentoring his followers. In 1 Thessalonians 3:2b-4 and 12 & 13 we read, “We sent him to strengthen you, to encourage you in your faith, and to keep you from being shaken by the troubles you were going through. But you know that we are destined for such troubles. Even while we were with you, we warned you that troubles would soon come—and they did, as you well know… And may the Lord make your love for one another and for all people grow and overflow, just as our love for you overflows. May he, as a result, make your hearts strong, blameless, and holy as you stand before God our Father when our Lord Jesus comes again with all his holy people. Amen.” This is the truth: A mentor can help strengthen the faith of one who is going through trials. The end goal is that the young believer would be full of love, have a strong heart of faith and remain blameless and holy before God.
David knew the benefits of following closely to God. He says in Psalm 32:7-9:
“For you are my hiding place; you protect me from trouble. You surround me with songs of victory. Interlude
The Lord says, ‘I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you. Do not be like a senseless horse or mule that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.’”
I believe human mentors can be very helpful. Everyone who wants to grow in their faith would benefit from having one. But, only if the mentor knows all the really good answers are found in Jesus. Let’s purpose to be kind and compassionate, wise and prayerful, and above all lead people to Jesus.