What to Look for in a Spiritual Mentor
- Thursday, August 11, 2011
Earlier this year, I signed up for some continuing education courses. As a component of my training, I will take part in a mentorship program where I will experience a couple of days in the life of my mentor to see what he does, how he approaches his work and the decision process he goes through.
While I am learning so much by reading, studying, practicing and watching webinars, some of the most important education I’ll probably receive will come as a result of understanding my mentor’s day to day activities and how he faces success and adversity.
My impending educational mentorship got me thinking about our continual need for a spiritual mentor in our lives. Have you ever thought or considered who you would want to learn from and shadow if you had the choice of someone from the Bible?
Naturally, the most sought after mentor would probably be Jesus himself and he would more than likely have a sizable waiting list. Aside from him, who would you consider to be your next choice?
I would guess Jonah, Moses and Paul would have some space available for those interested in marine biology, wilderness training, or criminal justice. Adam, Cain and the prodigal son may be a possibility for those desiring a “freer” environment and lifestyle, an anger-management candidate or a self-indulgent personality. Even Peter would be inspiring if you could stay up with and handle his zeal.
After a recent devotional, my top choice for a spiritual mentor would be King Solomon. Besides the lifestyle I would have to “put up with” in his lap of luxury, what he showed me with one statement convinced me he would be a man I could learn a lot from.
In 1 Kings 3:5, the Lord appeared to Solomon and asked him what many of us would love for the Lord to ask us directly, “What would you like me to give you?” Granted, at this point in time Solomon had just inherited the kingdom of Israel from his father David, including all of the riches that go along with being King; however, instead of asking for more stuff, a long life to enjoy his success or revenge against his enemies, Solomon answered, “Give me the wisdom I need to rule your people with justice and to know the difference between good and evil. Otherwise, how would I ever be able to rule this great people of yours?" (1 Kings 3:9-10).
Humbly and unselfishly, Solomon only asked for the tools with which to better serve God’s people.
Who would have asked for that in Solomon’s position? How many of us ask for that today amidst all we are going through and struggling with?
Do we appeal for wisdom to know how to best serve and minister to our spouse or family in the way they need or how to change us to live more Christ-like to others or do we ask the Lord to change our spouse, our family or our relational status to better suit ourselves?
Do we pray for wisdom to better understand how to make ends meet, to better steward what we were given or to use what we have to help others or do we beg for help financially by providing a well-paying job, more resources or a winning lottery ticket?
Do we request wisdom to best utilize our time, talent and resources for God’s purpose or do we just want things for our own enjoyment and pleasure?
Wisdom means to know what is best and right in a specific situation with the clear understanding and discernment of how to use that knowledge. Not that asking for a job, a relationship or anything else is wrong or not “wise;” however, we should be posing to ourselves “With what heart and reason are we asking these things?”
For all that Solomon had materially, what I found most interesting was the amount of “press” he received for his wisdom.
[The Queen of Sheba] said to the king, "The report I heard in my own country about your achievements and your wisdom is true. But I did not believe what they said until I came and saw with my own eyes. Indeed, not even half the greatness of your wisdom was told me; you have far exceeded the report I heard. How happy your men must be! How happy your officials, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom! (2 Chronicles 9:5-7).
All the kings of the earth sought audience with Solomon to hear the wisdom God had put in his heart (2 Chronicles 9:23).
Royalty from around the world did not come to King Solomon to see his kingdom or be impressed by his riches. They came because of his wisdom. People with wisdom inspire others.
There are few men today who would command that much attention when it comes to their wisdom— Warren Buffett (legendary investor) in the world of finance, Jack Welch (former General Electric CEO) in business, Steve Jobs (co-founder of Apple) in technology and the Reverend Billy Graham are only a few who may be singled out like that today.
While many of those minds have succeeded well financially, it is their knowledge, understanding and perception that others are motivated by, not their pocketbooks. Wisdom is not something anyone can put a price tag on nor compare to worldly riches.
How much better to get wisdom than gold, to choose understanding rather than silver! (Proverbs 16:16).
Solomon honored his God-given position, accepted the responsibilities given him and didn’t allow “advisors” or ungodly influence to persuade him from doing what was best in God’s eyes. That is what people with wisdom do.
Are we aligning ourselves with mentors (and friends) of this stature or are we following the crowd, being a groupie to the latest and greatest, trying to “fit in” with the world or seeking earthly treasures alone?
When you seek a spiritual mentor or a mentor of any kind, have the insight to find one who has wisdom.
Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who embrace her; those who lay hold of her will be blessed (Proverbs 3:13-18).
Cliff Young is a contributing writer to Sandlot Stories (ARose Books), as well as the monthly column, "He Said-She Said," in Crosswalk.com's Singles Channel. An architect and former youth worker, he now works with Christian musicians and consults for a number of Christian ministries. Got feedback? Send your comments and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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