Greetings and good morning, brothers and sisters. This is Dr. James Perry continuing with our series, where we seek to explore the deeper meanings of our relationship with Jesus Christ. Over the years, the heavenly Father has revealed many revelations of spiritual truth to me, and I want to share them with you. This morning we will ponder our lives as we seek to understand the nature of spiritual leading, guidance, and guardianship.
And now, sit back and listen to today's message.
The Nature of Spiritual Leading, Guidance, and Guardianship
"How be it when the Spirit of Truth is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come. He shall glorify me; for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you." John, Chapter 16, Verses 13 and 14
Brothers and sisters, this morning we shall explore the nature of spiritual leading, guidance, and guardianship. We hope to gain some additional insights into these spiritual qualities so that we can further feel spiritually secure and more fully appreciate the nature of the Father’’s love. In order to understand these qualities, we must have a firm idea as to where and why we are being led, guided, and guarded. To help us understand these qualities better, let us look at the material analogy of the parent and the child who has to be led, guided, and guarded.
When a child is born into the world, he is without experience, knowledge, wisdom, or the ability to take care of himself. His parents must provide him with the knowledge, wisdom, and ultimately with the ability to take care of himself. As any parent can testify, this is a long and arduous process. Initially because the child is helpless, he must be protected from a thousand and one things that may harm or destroy him. During this helpless state of infancy, he must be fed, changed, and nurtured. As he gets a little older and enters the toddler stage, he must be protected from himself. As he gains autonomy and begins to explore his environment, he puts himself in danger from the many things in his environment that he is curious about but unaware of the danger that they poise.
When the child gets older and is able to understand, the process of guidance began to exert its hold on the child. Now we know that physically and emotionally the child will develop into an adult, but the quality of that physical and emotional development will depend on the nature of the guidance that he has received. And this is true of its moral development as well. Left alone, the child will pursue the path of least resistance. It will naturally tend to avoid those things that it dislikes, even though they may be good for him. Here, the wise parent begins his guidance, and this guidance should be initiated at an early age before the child becomes habituated to doing only those things that he likes. Left alone without guidance, a child will only eat foods that are sweet. The wise parent knows how to use what the child naturally likes to induce it to eat those things that it does not like. And the same thing applies to other activities of life. A little bit of sugar added to a bitter medicine makes it go down much easier.
The parent must select out those activities that will help develop the child’’s physical apparatus as well as its intellectual, social, and moral potentials. Without this crucial guidance, the child will arrive in adulthood seriously handicapped. The child has to live in this world, and the world of living is a very difficult and complex thing to master. It is full of pain, suffering, and disappointment, full of failures as well as successes. Thus the wise parent must allow the child to experience these adverse effects of living, so that it will grow to understand that these things are a part of life. The parent must allow the child to experience the consequences of his action. Not to allow the child to experience the consequences of his acts leads to an adult who blames everybody for its shortcomings and accepts responsibility for none of them. By controlling the nature of the child’’s decisions, the parent also controls the nature of the consequences.
The child must early be taught his responsibility to others and must be given progressively difficult experiences that require ever-increasing moral choosing and social adaptation. Not to allow for these experiences creates a self-centered person who is socially and morally handicapped. Without an adequate sense of morality, the child is likely to fail in this complex society that requires acknowledgment of our responsibility to one another. All rules of conduct cannot be legislated. Without a moral and ethical sense, civilization disintegrates. In order to live in a complex society, there has to be a sense that there is a certain level of responsibility that we have toward each other.
And it goes without saying that there are a thousand and one negative influences that tend to undermine the successful instillment of these values in a developing child; thus the parent must be ever vigilant to guard against these influences. To counter negative influences, the parent should provide positive experiences. Parents should say to their children not ““do this”” and ““go do that,”” but rather ““come with us while we show you the better way.”” "Children are permanently impressed only by the loyalties of their adult associates; precept or even example is not lastingly influential. Loyal persons are growing persons, and growth is an impressive and inspiring reality. Live loyally today--grow--and tomorrow will attend to itself. The quickest way for a tadpole to become a frog is to live loyally each moment as a tadpole."
Leadership is sorely lacking in our parenting skills today. Most parents try to teach their children the better way by instructing them, but the child soon sees what the parents are loyal to and follows that. The parent is often guilty of trying to send their child where they are unwilling to go themselves. Thus, a parent may instruct a child not to smoke while they themselves continue to smoke. The parent must provide the leading--must live and be loyal to the value that they are desirous of instilling in their developing children. Parents are often devastated when they see their children deviate from that which they have tried to teach them, so devastated that they fail to see in the child’’s behavior the reflection of the parent’’s attitude. Attitude governs conduct, and the expression of the conduct will depend on the social setting that the child is living in.
We are spiritual children, and our souls come into existence under a tremendous experiential handicap. We are devoid of spiritual experience and must be led, guided, and guarded as we move from an infant soul to an adult one. We are to be perfect even as the heavenly Father is perfect. We can see right away that there is a tremendous amount of spiritual growth required, a tremendous amount of varied experiences, and a tremendous number of pitfalls along the way. The pitfalls of "procrastination, equivocation, insincerity, problem avoidance, unfairness, and ease seeking" must be avoided .We must be led. We must be guided, and we must be protected every step of the way. As we begin our growth, the Father provides the leading. He provides the values of growth required at every stage.
As we move through these experiences, we are guided. In this way the acquirement of spiritual values is similar to a car driving down a highway towards a distant goal. Without some kind of steering mechanism, the car will not be able to stay on the highway and thus not be able to reach its destination. The Spirit of Truth guides us into the spiritual values of the Father. Each spiritualizing experience requires a different value and our souls must be guided in order to successfully acquire that value. The divine Son, Jesus, is the way, the truth, and the light. He guides us into all values.
Finally, it must be obvious that just like in the material world, there are many deleterious influences impinging upon our souls. We start with the deleterious influence of evil. This negative influence is one growing out of immaturity. In a way, it is similar to the small child who does not understand the laws that govern his physical existence. As he develops, he comes to understand them. And so it is with our souls. As we develop, we come to understand the spiritual laws governing our existence. We must be protected from the evil influences impinging on our souls. There are many spiritual hazards that can affect us, and we must be protected from them. To prevent our souls from following the animal nature--the way of ease--these guardians provide that rigorous training that makes our souls strong, robust, and eventually teaches us to love moral and spiritual challenges.
But all of this training and discipline is overshadowed by the permeating influence of divine love——the sense that all of this is in someway necessary for our eternal good. But like small children, we may not be able to discern the Father’’s hand of love in all of these experiences. But after all, the Father loves His children and only wants what is eternally good for them. And we must believe this.
This concludes today's message on understanding the nature of spiritual leading, guidance, and guardianship. We hope you find something in this message to ponder and pray about as you go about your day.
Until next time, this is Dr. James Perry.