For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. 16 I urge you, then, be imitators of me. ESV 1 Corinthians 4:15-16
As I grow in my faith, I’m slowly seeing a huge hole in my particular faith tradition. My church affiliations have always stressed the priesthood of the saints, individual responsibility, and personal relationships with God. Granted, the Bible supports this. However, God also teaches us that we don’t do the spiritual life alone. We need spiritual directors, mentors, those whom God uses to mold and shape us spiritually. Unfortunately, I spent too much time in my life thinking I could shape myself with just me and the Holy Spirit.
When Paul writes to the Corinthians, he reminds them they have countless guides in Christ. Can you name your guides? Perhaps your pastor comes to mind. That’s only one. I serve as a pastor, so I struggle to even name one. The more I consider this, the more concerned I become. Not only did the Corinthians have Paul as their spiritual father (the one who led them to Christ), but they also had countless guides along the way. Paul goes on to mention Timothy and the role he played in the Corinthians life. While some may consider authors, bloggers and radio/tv preachers to be spiritual guides, I would gently push back on this. Granted, these people can have a profound influence on us, and God uses them in powerful ways. However, I’m learning the best spiritual directors are those who actually know me and can specifically pour into my life and challenge me on things. When I read a book or listen to a podcast I’m still in control and can choose to tune out the teaching if I don’t agree with it. If I’m sitting down with someone, it forces a greater level of humility–and I’m learning humility is the key to spiritual formation.
Who are your mentors? Who regularly pours into you and asks you the hard questions about sin, holiness, your walk with Jesus Christ? Remember, no one is perfect, and these spiritual guides don’t have to be sinless. It’s really more about you choosing to submit to God using them to speak into your life. I pray you identify several spiritual guides in your life and take advantage of their wisdom.