“My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.” NKJV
The correct use of cotton buds and spiritual direction
It was reported earlier this year of my writing that a boy who had been partially deaf for nine years was suddenly cured, when a cotton wool bud popped out of his ear. Apparently aged two years of age, unbeknown to his parents he mightily stuffed one of these right up into his right ear and broke off the end. Up until age 11 there followed some nine years of earache, partial deafness leading to some behavioural difficulties, exclusion and not doing so well at school. In addition to this were the many visits to doctors and specialists, all who had somehow missed the now wax coated cotton bud. The boy’s growing body, over the years had eventually ejected the alien intruder and bam! A miracle of healing had now begun to transform his life.
Being a mentor, being a spiritual director, trying if you will, to be a meta-physician, a curer of souls, carries with it a most awesome responsibility. Mostly dealing in the spiritual and the ethereal, majestically dealing with the secret and inner places of the heart, the possibility of misdiagnosis and of consequent spiritual deafness and subsequent stunted or twisted growth in others is of a far greater possibility than with any standard medical practitioner. Yet, we still send tens of thousands of young inexperienced consultants, full of information but still wet behind the ears out onto the wards of our churches each and every year, and my oh my, how great is the carnage that cometh forth! Spiritual misdirection and the subsequent production of profound spiritual deafness and the bitter twistedness of most people in our churches are testimony to the fact that they are often times being fooled by their denominations and failed by their shepherds. Good grief even the shepherds themselves are leaving their posts in their droves, never to return!
In terms of spiritual discipleship, in terms of good friendship we all become the spiritual directors of someone, somewhere, sometime. May I offer then, some guidelines tonight for each us to follow in the days to come.
First, listen. Be slow to speak, slow to construct a response in your own mind, even whilst the other is speaking. Make the phrases, “‘I don’t know,’ ‘I’m not sure,’ and ‘I wonder if,’” your own very best of friends. Use them much, for they are true and a whole lot more certain than much of the conclusions you might wish to hurry out of your mouth. Listen.
Second, suggest. Suggestions are always investigative rather than declarative. The advantage of applied suggestions is a personal discovery of the problem. This personal discovery after following suggestions, is far more powerful than any declaration you could make. Make the phrases, “‘I don’t know, but...’ ‘I’m not sure, however...’ and ‘I wonder if,’” your very best of friends. Suggest.
Third, seek. Suggestions are mere sign-posts. They are clues. To go on a search following clues demands attention, demands application and most of all requires support and supply. Help people seek out the roots of their issues. Seek.
Fourth, watch. People of suggestive searches often sit down, slack off, wander off in the wrong direction, find themselves lost in deep woods wandering in vast disorienting wastelands. People need watching in terms of their pursued sanctification. Watch.
Fifth, pray. This cannot be underestimated. Prayer is the “walkie talkie” connection with base. Prayer is direct contact with headquarters. Prayer is contact with the three persons who are sure to help us. God The Father, God The Son, and God The Holy Spirit. Pray.
Sixth, put them in the Son. Plants and people only grow in the Son. Ask for His light to shine. Pray light upon the seeker, pray light upon the searcher, throw light upon their path. Put them in the Son.
Seventh, stick with them. Oh the relief we feel when all our problem people leave. Oh how we are so thankful when the difficulties depart, Oh how we are relieved that we do not have to stick with them. True discipleship however, true shepherding is mostly marked by stickability, so, stick with them.
It goes almost without saying, that a Chief Executive Officer Senior Pastor cannot do this. Jesus had twelve disciples. We do not consider anyone worth following or listening to unless they have 12,000. With this strange and most unbiblical ratio, healing, wholeness and true holiness, can never ever come. I say it can never come. Many people go missing in the mega. Remember that.
Listen: “For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body.” James 3:2 NKJV.
Pray: Oh Lord, keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, and I shall be innocent of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.” (Psalms 19:13-14 NKJV)
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