How Involved is Your Spiritual Leader in Your Decision Making?
What do you do when you are faced with making a spiritual or life decision?
Have you ever considered asking your spiritual leader for advice? If so, what was the result? Now, I have a question? Why? Why ask them? Before I tell you my opinion of whether this is wise, I would like for you to consider your reasons before I delve into my rant. Go ahead think about the following:
Do you find it difficult to make decisions for yourself?
Do you feel new to this whole Christian thingy and don’t want to make a mistake?
Were you taught to do this?
Now, let’s begin. Godly counsel is a necessary part of being a Christian that desires a life that is obedient to the will of God. Proverbs 11:14 tell us, “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.” Additionally, Proverbs 1:5-7 tells us, “A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels: To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Thus, we are to seek counsel and I add, Godly counsel, for many of life’s choices. But, let’s go back to the original question. What do you do when you are faced with making a spiritual or life decision?
Many of us consider ‘Godly counsel’ to be that provided by our spiritual leaders. However, I suggest a multitude of counselors. This does not mean your Pastor and your friends. This includes the Word of God, praying and fasting. Yes, these are ways to seek counsel. We often try to take a short cut by looking to someone else, such as our church leaders, for the answers.
Yet, counsel from our church leaders is just one form of counsel, and we should not overly rely on it as the primary source.
I believe you should seek counsel from your leaders and weigh it against or alongside:
The Word of God
What the Lord has told you in prayer.
Any dynamics that you may be privy to, such as generational or family curses.
It is important to have an understanding of the Word of God for yourself. Even though those who counsel you may have your best interest at heart, they may not know all of the details that pertain to your need. Thus, you have to consider the multitude of counsel in order to make a wise decision. I know of many individuals who proclaim to have church hurt because of counseling from their church leadership. The counseling was either not what the person wanted to hear, or led the person down a path they regretted later on.
Babes in Christ, but Adults in Life
What is your responsibility in this area? Being new to Christendom is a common excuse people use to abate their responsibility to read the Word and seek God. We all start out as babes in Christ. As babes, we must be fed the Word of God as if we are drinking milk. Yet, we must govern our business affairs as if we are adults. Thus, as adults, we are faced with taking ownership for some of the “hurtful” events that have occurred in our lives. Often, we must accept that we put a lot of trust in leadership (some being godly, some not so much) and have had high or unreasonable expectations for humans.
Unreasonable expectations occur when we allow or expect leaders to govern our every move, when we expect leaders to be perfect, or when we have vision confusion.
Here are the dangers of each pitfall explained:
Danger #1: Governing Your Every Move
Having your spiritual leader govern every aspect of your life is the worst thing you can do.
You have a right to privacy, you have access to the throne room of God for yourself, and you need to exercise your access to the throne room by practicing it and trusting in God’s direction.
This is how you learn to recognize His voice. If you are constantly turning to your spiritual leaders for advice with day-to-day activities, then you are turning your adult power over to the leader. I know of people who asked their church leaders to make decisions for them pertaining to school, work, marriage and more.
Do you see where this can become problematic? One problem is that you are turning over your decision making power to another adult. Whether or not they have your best interest at heart doesn’t matter. They are not all knowing. Also problematic, is the reality that when things do not turn out the way you want them to, you tend to blame the leaders and turn away from the church. Some even turn away from God. Make your own decisions by seeking the counsel of the Lord through prayer and reading the Word of God. Then, you will learn to trust in the Lord and hear His voice.
Danger #2: Expecting Leaders to be Perfect
Many of us fall apart when our leaders make a mistake. We idolize and hold men and women of God to an unattainable standard. When they don’t live up to these expectations, our image of them is shattered. This is dangerous because no one is perfect. If we continue to look for men to play God in our lives, then we have set up an idol. We need to mature in our emotions and expectations, so that we do not make such common mistakes.
Danger #3: Vision Confusion
Many of us fellowship with other ministries outside of our home church, and I highly recommend that you do so as well. We do this by attending conferences, workshops, and seminars that may speak to a specific need that we have. This is fine. However, we should not look to substitute our main meal with the dessert of the Word. Consider our fellowship with outside ministries to be just that, dessert.
If you become too reliant on the teachings of the outside ministries, then you may cause a shift in your vision. This may not be a bad thing. Maybe your vision has changed and this new ministry is ministering to the growth of that vision. If this is the case, then you should consider making that ministry your main source of fellowship. However, if this is not the case, then you should submit to the teachings of your home ministry. Otherwise, you will be in a place where you are constantly comparing messages, sermons, and teachings rather than growing from them. Find your spiritual home by finding a place whose vision aligns to your vision. This will eliminate any confusion and hurt that the confusion may cause.
Once you have accepted the vision of your home ministry, you should consider the teachings of that ministry as your main meal. Yet, we should ease up on the soul tie of dependency that we’ve formed with our leadership, forgive them for any advice that did not produce Godly results, and forgive yourself for being entangled in the co-dependent relationship. Forgiveness is difficult, but it is necessary.
Seek Godly Counsel, Avoid Co-Dependency
Through the process of forgiveness, we should also consider what caused us to become co-dependent upon our leaders and repent of it.
Although, the Lord wants us to be obedient to our leaders on earth, He does not want a co-dependent relationship.
Submitting to teachings and seeking Godly counsel does not mean that one should allow every area of one’s life to be governed by the leader. In error, many believe that one should submit wholly to the advice of the leadership. I disagree. One should submit to biblically related teachings without reservation. Yet, one should review all advice about personal issues by dividing it with the Word of truth. Here are some more factors to consider:
Does the leader give personal opinion or does the leader seek the Lord before you are given a response? We all want quick responses, but a wise leader will seek the Lord before counseling you about important life decisions.
Is the leader open and honest about his or her failures? You should consider the leader’s failures and how the leader has overcome them. If you are constantly hearing about mistakes and don’t see the growth, then consider the person’s fruit as an indicator of whether you should or should not take their counsel.
Does the leader have an angle with the counsel? Is the counsel based upon needs of the church? You are important to the Lord. Don’t allow the needs of an earthly church misdirect you.
What is the leader’s emotional maturity level? If the leader is not emotionally mature, you may be given counsel from someone who is afraid to fail or is prideful. You want truth, wisdom, and discerning advice, not ego.
Does the leader operate in love? Some leaders are unable to see you through the eyes of God, which is love. Consider the leader’s actions, emotional maturity, words, and secret deeds as an indicator of their love walk. You may ask, “If the deeds are secret how would I know them?” The Lord will reveal not the individual. If a person goes around talking about what they have done, it is boastful and not rooted in love.
I subscribe to Godly counsel, but I analyze such counsel against the Word of God. I do this because I understand that I must make the final decision and be accountable to that decision before God. You should understand that you have many avenues of seeking Godly counsel. Explore all avenues and trust in the Lord to lead and guide you into all understanding.