We’ve all made bad decisions that seemed good at the time. Bet you’ve already thought of one. So let’s explore that before going any further:
• When has a decision looked like “the right way” to you, yet turned out totally wrong (or at least unnecessary)?
• Looking back, why did you choose that route instead of another?
• What or who got you back on track? What did God teach you, as a result of that time?
We’ve all had times when we’ve thought or felt we had all the right information, but somehow still found ourselves off-course. When you think about it, then, it’s even more difficult to help others to make the right decision. We want to help; we think we know what will help. But even if we’re right, we usually don’t help by simply handing them the answers.
Sometimes we do see what others need more clearly than they do, but they can’t see it. And sometimes we really don’t understand where God’s trying to take them, and we project our own ideas and experiences onto them.
Either way, if they can’t see where God’s leading them, they might never get there. They could go the wrong way, or do something without the conviction that it’s truly God who’s doing the leading—and without that, they’ll likely give up before they ever really get start.
The trick, then, is to get the people we care about to see for themselves where God’s leading. And God can use us to do that, whether we can see where God’s leading them or not. Keith R. Anderson and Randy D. Reese, in their book Spiritual Mentoring: A Guide for Seeking and Giving Direction, make this observation: “The extraordinary events of epiphany or revelation are few and rare, but the gentle or firm probing of a mentor’s questions draw us back to the central action of spirituality: to pay attention for the presence of God in everything.” Here are just a few biblical examples, and you could do far worse than to take a few minutes to read them now:
• 1 Samuel 3:1-10
• 2 Samuel 12:1-13
• Matthew 7:1-6
• John 16:5-15
• Galatians 6:1-5
• Titus 2:1-8
And if you did, here are some questions and quotes to consider:
• What elements of guidance do you see in each of these passages? What challenges do you see?
• Putting all of these passages together: What’s God’s role in guiding others? What’s ours?
• How can we help people focus less on the pieces they don’t understand and more on the ones they already do? How will that help them figure out the rest of their “spiritual roadmaps”?
“All too often we think it is our job to get people in a place where they can call on God, but what if God has already called them? Then our role in someone’s life is to help them respond to the overtures of God.”—Robert Gelinas, Finding the Groove: Composing a Jazz-Shaped Faith
“To recognize an entry gate you do not ask, ‘What are the problems in a person’s life?’ Instead you ask, ‘What is this person struggling with in the midst of the situation?’”—Paul David Tripp, Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands
Think about the people who’ve helped you get over barriers you’d created in your own head, so you could accomplish something you didn’t think yourself capable of. How did God prepare both you and that other person?
Now, how might God use you to help someone else get past a barrier this week? Look for the opportunity, and take advantage of it. But remember, it’s about God’s call on them. Help them see it, but let them hang onto the wheel—because it’s God’s direction they need to follow.