Renown missionary Albert Schweitzer (1875–1965) was a French-German theologian, organist, writer, humanitarian, philosopher, and physician. He received the 1952 Nobel Peace Prize for his philosophy of “Reverence for Life,” expressed in many ways, but most famously in founding and sustaining the Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Lambaréné, now in Gabon, west central Africa (then French Equatorial Africa). So we should take seriously what he said, “The most difficult thing I have ever had to do is follow the guidance I prayed for.”
I like what Indian-born Dr. John Parankimahlil, popularly called Fr. P.D. Johny, wrote concerning the need and Importance of Guidance. He rightly points out that problems in life are becoming more and more complex. Traditional mōrēs (morals) and personal convictions concerning rightness and wrongness of attitude and behavior are breaking down. Many diverse factors inherent within our home, school, social and occupational activities and relationships pull us in different directions. We often find ourselves in such a state of confusion and bewilderment that it is difficult to steer straight ahead without the help of proper guidance.
He goes on to say that correct guidance helps an individual achieve well on various areas of personal and social life, as well as in educational and career pursuits. A society consisting of well-achieving and adjusted individuals would contribute more to achieving national and social goals. Such a society would also have individuals who are aware of social problems and can deal with them more humanely.
He then shares the following insights on the benefits of guidance:
No matter how young you are or how old you get, there is always a need for guidance. It helps a person to adjust along the way to different stages in life.
Experience reveals that no two persons are alike and no two persons get similar opportunities in life. That’s why every individual needs the help of guidance in order to know the particular kind of profession for which they are most suited.
Gone are the days when a child was supposed to take up the profession of their father or mother. Nowadays professions or occupations have become so varied and so complex that everyone has at first to get a general education and then to undergo a long training for the profession to be adopted. In other words, you never stop learning.
Maturity must be part of learning. That’s why guidance is required for the development of healthy and positive attitudes, habits, values, etc. towards work through a broadening awareness of the world of work, planning, and preparing for one’s career.
Guidance is also required for assistance in understanding and developing a positive self-image and development of social skills for learning an effective and satisfying personal-social life. It includes being aware of family relationships, attitudes towards home-life, and the role of family for healthy growth.
Guidance creates an understanding of socio-cultural values and awareness of social issues, concerns and problems, overcoming prejudices, developing right attitudes and values of co-operation, tolerance, righteousness, and social justice for peace and equality.
Today many individuals waste their precious time with a lot of unhealthy activities. People need to be guided to use their leisure time profitably. Proper balancing of work and family is also important. Many people spend hours engaged with others who share their view of life without criticism because it feels so comfortable.
In short, Guidance will be required:
- To understand oneself, one’s talents, abilities and potentialities and also the limitations.
- To recognize and develop favorable attitudes and habits and the elimination of undesirable traits.
- To develop resourcefulness and self-direction in adapting to changes in society
- To select appropriate courses in line with individual needs, interests, abilities, and circumstances.
- To get information on greater opportunities and trends and suitable advancement.
And the Bible is not silent when it comes to this topic of guidance. King Solomon made it clear that without good direction, people lose their way, the more wise counsel you follow, the greater your opportunities.1 That’s why he laid out a path to follow for advancing in life by allowing God to be the main source for guidance.2
No doubt he learned a lot by reading what his father King David had to say about guidance. In one Psalm he prayed, “Show me how You do things, God; educate me in your ways. Take me by the hand; lead me down the path of truth. You are my Savior, aren’t you?”3 His father, David, was sincere in his prayer because later on, he would share with others how blessed they are when God gives you an opportunity to start over. He said that God does this by looking you straight in the eye and tells you like it is because He loves you.4
David was so inspired that he dedicated a whole Psalm to this subject of following the guidance God gives us. In fact, he points out the great advantage of having God as your Guide. If you ever lose your way and even stumble and fall, God is right there beside you holding tight to your hand and will help you get going again.5 And David was not the only one. Another young man confessed to God that by His Word he could see where he was going because His Word was like a beam of light on a dark path. That resulted in the young man declaring: “I’ve committed myself and I’ll never turn back from living by your instructions and guidance.”6
These lessons were well learned as we can see from what the prophet Isaiah had to say about the teacher who was coming: “Just as the Master kept you alive during the hard times, he’ll keep your Teacher alive and present among you. Your Teacher will be right there, local and on the job, urging you on whenever you wander left or right: ‘This is the right road. Walk down this road.’ You’ll scrap your expensive and fashionable god-images. You’ll throw them in the trash as so much garbage, saying, ‘Good riddance!’”7
So when this Teacher, Jesus of Nazareth, came. He did exactly what Isaiah said He would do. But He only stayed a little while. And just as He was ready to leave He told His followers: “I’m telling you these things while I’m still living with you. The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you. He will remind you of all the things I have told you. I’m leaving you well and whole. That’s my parting gift to you. Peace. I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left – feeling abandoned, bereft. So don’t be upset. Don’t be distraught.”8 In other words, I’m not leaving you without anyone to guide you.
It was quite possible that His followers did become anxious, but Jesus reminded them again, “I still have many things to tell you, but you can’t handle them right now. But when the Friend comes, the Spirit of the Truth, He will take you by the hand and guide you into all the truth there is. He won’t draw attention to Himself but will make sense out of what is about to happen and, indeed, out of all that I have done and said. He will honor me; He will take from me and deliver it to you.”9
So it isn’t that there is no guidance available and often very accessible, but we often fall into the same trap as Albert Schweitzer did: “The most difficult thing I have ever had to do is follow the guidance I prayed for.” So where does that leave us? We can’t always blame our failures on others. Sometimes we must be honest and blame it on ourselves. – Dr. Robert R Seyda
1 Proverbs 11:14
2 Ibid. 3:5-12
3 Psalm 25:4-5
4 Ibid. 32:1-8
5 Ibid. 37:1-24
6 Ibid. 119:105
7 Isaiah 30:20-22
8 John 14:25-27
9 Ibid. 16:12:14