To whom do you go when you need advice?
God blessed me with some tremendous friendships. Both at NSU and at NOBTS, I’ve found friends with whom I can ask questions, share struggles, and pursue growth in godliness. Over the last few years, I’ve experienced the blessing of having an accountability partner who gives both challenge and encouragement. Each of these people inspires me, and each teaches me more about the Lord. But my friends don’t know everything.
As great as my friends are, they simply don’t have the wisdom and insight that come with age and experience. Because we are roughly the same age, my friends and I have similar experiences, similar perspectives, and similar blind spots. When I need wisdom, they can be tremendous assets, but they can only get me so far. That’s where my mentors come into play. My professors, my pastor, my parents – these people have wisdom and experience to offer that can greatly help me in life and ministry. These people have walked with God longer than I, they’ve served in ministry longer than I, and they’ve learned lessons that are still in my future. Their input is invaluable.
This truth is simple enough to grasp, but it’s vitally important. In 1 Kings 12, we read of the consequences that come when this truth is rejected. Rehoboam, son of Solomon, inherits the throne from his father. Not long after beginning his rule, his people bring a request: “Your father made our yoke heavy. Now therefore lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy yoke on us, and we will serve you” (1 Kings 12:4). Rehoboam tells the people he will take three days to consider the matter, wherein he will seek counsel. Good plan so far. He first asks “the old men, who had stood before Solomon his father while he was yet alive” (1 Kings 12:6). They advise him to grant the people’s request, for doing so would secure the people’s devotion forever. Yet Rehoboam decides to abandon the council of the older men for that of his friends, who advise Rehoboam to increase the people’s burden in an attempt to show that he is more powerful than his father. When the people hear Rehoboam’s response, they rebel. Rehoboam sends his taskmaster in an attempt to regain control, but the taskmaster is stoned by the people and the kingdom is split in two. Rehoboam took the bad advice of his peers, and the consequences shook the entire nation.
My point in sharing this story isn’t to decry the input of peers. God has used my friends to speak truth to me on many occasions, and he continues to bless me through them. But this story reminds us not to forsake the input of those who have gone before us. When we’re young, we can easily assume that we know everything. The words of our parents, our professors, and our pastors can appear outdated and irrelevant at times, and we can be tempted to ignore their advice, especially if they tell us things we’d rather not hear. But let this story from 1 Kings challenge us to truly seek wisdom from those who possess it. Let us pray for wisdom from God who gives, and recognize that he often answers those prayers through the older generation. And let us thank the Lord for the blessings he gives us in our mentors.