Can I Be Your Spiritual Guide?
During this pandemic we are all finding ways to cope with the stress of our altered social patterns, our feelings of health vulnerability, and the likely financial stresses that have occurred. Most of our normal behaviors have had to change, from the way we prepare for school/work/church, to the way we shop for groceries.
Mask mandates, ‘social distancing,’ and hand sanitizer are all relatively still new, but there is an area I have learned a little about that really surprised me recently: ‘spiritual guides’ are in high demand around the world. You might be wondering, what is a spiritual guide? And that is a great question that probably has several different definitions. The article which I read, in a national publication, described the spiritual guide industry as a booming enterprise that has grown dramatically over the past year. Because of the uncertainty that has overtaken most of us during this time, many people have the desire to obtain guidance beyond their usual means.
Anxiety and depression are also being experienced by more people during this time and so professional counseling has also seen a large spike in activity. While we all have some understanding of the value of professionally trained counselors, both Christian and not specifically Christian, there is some misunderstanding about the definition and value of a ‘spiritual guide.’
Christians utilize many resources for gaining insight for life, managing the stress and anxiety provoked by the current pandemic situation, and even dealing with clinical anxiety, depression, and psychological diagnosis. However, Christians should be sure to steer clear of the current flood of ‘spiritual guides.’ The best comparison I can find in scripture is displayed in 1 Samuel 28, when King Saul was having a very difficult time and needed guidance from the Lord. However, scripture makes it clear that he was not following God and so he pursued a false, forbidden means of gaining insight for his problem. 1 Samuel 28:7 says, “Then Saul said to his servants, ‘Seek out for me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her.’ And his servants said to him, ‘Behold, there is a medium at En-dor.’”
Mediums and ‘sooth-sayers,’ spiritual guides, and many other non-biblical sources are available in our culture, but God has provided for us in bountiful, loving ways. Our culture looks to behavioral norms, success-oriented encouragements, and emptying our minds to see what can come in to give us insight. On the other hand, God has given each of us His Holy Spirit, His holy Word, Christian counselors, pastors, elders, deacons, Christian friends, and our church community so that we can encourage and support one another.
Hebrews 10:24-25 encourages us, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Daily reading God’s Word, praying, and meditating should be our first line of ongoing pursuit of God and means of gaining wisdom. Christian fellowship and Bible study opportunities (whether in person or by electronic means) should be our second line of regular encouragement and uplifting. Pastoral counseling, discipleship opportunities, Celebrate Recovery Step Studies, and similar organizations can be a third line of encouragement. Professional counseling through ministries like Ministries of Jesus and local Christian counselors are a very powerful means of helping us cope when needed, pointing us back to the provisions that God has made for His family.
As Christians, we need to be sure that we are identifying and utilizing all the resources God has provided for us, and avoid worldly, unbiblical influences. God bless you today as you draw on His rich resources, given to supply all your needs.
Lord Jesus, thank you that you have not left me alone in this world. Thank you for your Holy Spirit, who indwells me and empowers me to live in this world. Thank you for your Word, the Church, Christian fellowship, and all the resources you have provided to supply my needs. Please give me wisdom to live in this world, displaying your grace and power as I go.