5 Questions You Really Need To Ask Your Christian Mentor

I’ve envied people who knew (as children) what they wanted to be when they grew up — and then became exactly that. I envied their clarity and confidence, because my own sense of calling hasn’t always seemed so clear.

Do you feel more like the latter, too? These days, discerning our callings can feel more difficult than ever. Why is that?

Well, in general, we as women now have an unprecedented assortment of career, ministry, and life options. This isn’t a bad thing, but it does mean there is more competition for our clarity—and more potential for confusion.

Plus, social media and blogging have made it possible to access (and absorb) pieces of advice from our favorite ministries, celebrities, CEOs, Bible study authors, and so on.

This is where discernment comes in.

To help you weed out the wisdom from the folly, here are seven questions to ask when someone gives his or her input about your calling:

1. Is his or her advice in agreement with the Bible and the wisdom it provides? 
To understand if a person’s advice matches God’s heart, it helps to know how his or her words measure up to His Word.This doesn’t mean you have to memorize the entire Bible before you’re “allowed” to seek counsel from a parent, friend, mentor, or pastor.

But I would encourage you to take his or her advice, grab your Bible, and test their input against Scripture before you act on it. Good counsel isn’t necessarily godly counsel, and the Bible can help you know which is the case.

2. Does the advice match your own discernment of the Holy Spirit’s leading? 
I’ve known — and currently have — some great, godly role models…and yet no matter how great they are, the fact remains that they’re still human. I’ve learned — through a few bouts of idolatry — that wise counsel is still no reason to quench the Holy Spirit.

In other words, the presence of good counsel isn’t a reason to take a leave of absence from personally seeking to hear God. Continue to cultivate sensitivity to His voice, and if a piece of advice contradicts the Holy Spirit’s leading, skip the person’s tip.

3. Have they taken the time to listen to you? 
Proverbs 18:13 says, “To answer before listening — that is folly and shame.” One way to know whom to listen to about your calling is if she or he has taken the time to listen. I’ve observed and experienced times where a good-intentioned mentor, family member, or ministry leader has been quick to issue “canned” advice.

I don’t think they were ill intentioned, but if you aren’t careful, taking the advice of a hasty counselor can be like taking the prescription of a doctor who diagnosed you — without listening to the explanation of your symptoms.

4. Is there fruit in their lives, in the area for which you’re seeking advice? 
Status symbols do not automatically mean there’s spiritual fruit. For example, just because a woman has a wedding ring on her finger does not automatically mean she’s qualified to give wise counsel to single women called to become wives.

On the other hand, you better believe I’m going to give more weight to financial advice that comes from experts like Rachel Cruze and Dave Ramsey! Why? For several reasons, including this one: There is fruit of wise, godly financial stewardship in their lives.

5. What can you discern of the motive behind their advice? 
Sometimes people’s advice to us — isn’t really for us. Throughout Scripture (and history beyond the text) we see that God’s calling on a person’s life can be risky, sacrificial, or seemingly crazy (in the world’s eyes).

Our 'arks' may not involve sawdust and a smelly menagerie — like Noah’s — but what a help to know that criticism can mean we're on the right track!

In which case, it’s helpful to know when to not listen to someone, because he or she is speaking more from a place of their own insecurity, fear, complacency, rebellion, or just…ignorance.

In my case, there have been times since publishing my personal testimony that I’ve encountered harsh criticism or seemingly helpful (but compromising) advice that would mean abandoning the ark I was called to. 

[written by Rebecca Halton]