“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” Matthew 7:13-14
Every day we are presented with hundreds of choices that we must make, many of them seemingly unimportant but all of them unique to us; our attitude, appearance, lifestyle, food choices, career, scheduling, priorities, conversations, entertainment, living situation, relationships, financial decisions, etc. And we all eventually reach a point where we’re standing at a crossroads and have to make a decision on which path to take. I believe we are awakened by our own imperfections at these crossroads. It is when we feel the most vulnerable, uncertain, confused and afraid. We want to make the right decision but suddenly we are faced with the dreadful, uncontrollable feeling of fear: The unknown. What others may think. Making the wrong decision.
We are all imperfect beings with imperfect answers, acting on imperfect information for causes with imperfect results. We are bruised by our past, the stress of living in an imperfect world, our hearts heavy with constant disappointment; we feel small and insecure, often questioning the direction of our path and the intent of our actions, even as our hearts are enlarged by the humanity of our mission.
For many, it is in these critical crossroads circumstances when we experience overwhelming pressure. Sometimes there are multiple paths that make decisions even more challenging. Sometimes we are paralyzed by fear so we sit down at the center of the crossroads and do nothing. We want God to do it for us… we want Him to audibly tell us what to do – ‘give us a sign’ or ‘confirmation’ and when He doesn’t we get frustrated and give up. It is also at these crossroads when we are tempted by sin; when our discernment and judgment is most crucial. Sometimes we are deceived by our own ignorance and if we aren’t careful we may find ourselves strolling aimlessly down a path that we didn’t intend on traveling.
I felt convicted in writing this because of the many times I have stood at these crossroads wanting to take the ‘easier’ road, but knowing it may not be the best road – but choosing to have more faith in myself than in God because it appeared safer than the alternative. In fact, my most cowardly decisions were always made when I listened to my own advice. The fact is, He doesn’t want us to travel these streets alone.
I believe God uses people to help us face these crossroads; to prevent us from constantly listening to ourselves and taking the ‘easy path’ – which is rarely the correct path. He knows our imperfections better than we do and He knows we can’t do it on our own so He provides mentors as friends and advisors to see things that we don’t see; to offer experience that we don’t have.
The word mentor means: An experienced and trusted advisor.
Jesus Christ is the perfect model of mentorship and He provides wisdom to His followers (you and I) in the form of scripture, prayer and experience so that we may be able to choose the right path…and not just the easier one – which our imperfect selves are so inclined to do. LIFE Leadership founder Orrin Woodward recently tweeted, “A mentor’s role is to help people discover where they are ignorant of their own ignorance.”
Keep in mind, our mentors are not perfect either. They are fallen sinners just like us. But, the right mentors who have the results, wisdom and experience to advise can offer the right perspective which can lead us down the right path. A mentor is often the very thing we need in order to make the right decisions. So now when confronting critical crossroads, instead of taking my own advice, even when it seems easier, I choose to seek a mentor who can offer guidance throughout the journey. These are some of the questions I must ask myself:
1) Do I have enough humility to recognize and admit when I need a mentor?
2) Am I prepared to listen and apply the advice my mentor suggests?
2) Am I willing to accept responsibility for the decisions and the path that I take, regardless of the outcome or advice I receive?
Sometimes the path still isn’t clear, and that’s okay… it doesn’t always mean that it’s the wrong path. It may just be possible that God is using our ‘crossroad’ circumstance to strengthen our faith. He may just want us to choose a path and put our trust in Him along the journey.
Thankfully, no matter what crossroad we are confronted with, we always have hope in the destination because of a perfect Savior who died on the cross for our imperfections. So when our path appears to be blocked, unclear, confusing or unending we can be reminded of the perfect path Christ has for those who choose to follow Him.
“Stand at the crossroads and look, ask where the good way is and walk in it and you will find rest for your souls.” Jeremiah 6:16