Living in this chaotic world, if we’re honest, we have to admit that we all have problems. “Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job.” (I Peter 4:12 The Message Bible) God’s always at work. However, it’s important to remember the famous public service announcement from the Emergency Broadcast System, “This is a test. This is only a test….” but we also need wisdom concerning what we should do in the midst of our tests.
Personally, I learned a lot about asking for advice during the years that I worked as a producer and reporter at WTLW TV 44 in west central Ohio. At the time, I occasionally assisted producing or hosting the Ask the Pastor TV program. Folks would call in to pose questions about theological issues, but more frequently they were trying to find solutions to their daily dilemmas including: financial problems, addiction, grief, loneliness, etc. by seeking the expert spiritual opinions from the panel of local pastors.
Asking for counsel takes humility, because we have to admit that we don’t have all the answers. There has to be an answer though, because Jesus himself said, “…In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.” John 16:33
Besides, clergy are very busy people, they can’t be expected to be on 24 hour call concerning our need for counsel. Although the Bible says, “Without good direction, people lose their way; the more wise counsel you follow, the better your chances.” (Proverbs 11:14) Of course, the ultimate book of wisdom is the Bible, and it’s where we should look first. Often though, we require someone with some skin on to enable us to understand God’s Word about our situation.
That’s why I would like to introduce the concept of the reality Ask the Pastor Show. We can all be part of it, by seeking advice from the “wise” folks God places in our lives. It’s important to emphasize the word, “wise,” because we should seek counsel from confidential individuals who have been successful in the area that we are struggling with.
The bottom line is; if your marriage is in trouble, seek guidance from somebody of the same sex who has a healthy marital relationship. If your teen is on drugs, find a former addict who has become a productive member of society, and ask them how they broke free from addiction. Or if your business is in the red, talk with a successful entrepreneur.
The professional arena has long instituted the policy of mentoring relationships. For example, in the academic world it is standard practice for a new public schools superintendent to be assigned a mentor. My husband, Larry Claypool feels he hit the administrative jackpot in his early days as a superintendent when he was assigned an adviser who had years of educational experience.
Whenever an urgent situation occurred, placing my spouse on uncharted territory back then, he asked his mentor for advice. “Even when you have a decision already made, you call. Just to make sure it was the right decision,” Larry said. “It’s just like being a disciple, because a seasoned teacher imparts his knowledge for the good of someone else,” added my spouse who is now an experienced public schools superintendent himself who takes time to counsel young administrators.
Jesus knew all about mentoring people. He had his hands full with his own motley crew of followers. He had to teach Peter to control his temper, Thomas not to doubt, and James and John to quit seeking positions of honor, among other issues.
I once heard Kenton, Ohio’s New Hope Fellowship pastor, Jason Manns, say that he believes, “God usually places individuals in our lives that He uses to disciple us in our Christian walk.” I agree, but we have to be cautious, that we don’t miss God’s voice through those close to us.
Familiarity can stop us from receiving what we need to hear. We discount the message, knowing firsthand folks in our inner circle are flawed human beings like ourselves. That’s why James 1:19 tells us, that “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” Of course, we do have to guard ourselves from ungodly counsel, because. “…Bad company ruins good manners.” (I Corinthians 15:33)
But if someone is a faithful believer, who wants God’s best for us, we should be willing to listen. If their counsel doesn’t line up with what you think your Heavenly Father is saying, put it on the shelf for awhile. Allow God to bring His perfect will to pass. Most importantly in the Book of Proverbs we are told to, “Trust God from the bottom of your heart;…listen for God’s voice in everything you do…He’s the one who will keep you on track.”
Christina Ryan Claypool is an Amy Award winning journalist and evangelistic speaker. Her husband, Larry Claypool is the superintendent of Ohio’s Hardin-Houston Schools. Information about her book, “Seeds of Hope for Survivors” is available through her Website at www.christinaryanclaypool.com or through www.amazon.com .