In the capacity of my calling, I have the honor of being a mentor to other ministers and leaders within the Body of Christ (even as others have been mentors to me). Many of these brethren are actually older than I am—although I am no longer a ‘spring chicken’ myself.
One such brother that I will mention here is actually senior to me in age by about a decade and a half. Despite this fact, the Lord has impressed him to emulate and seek counsel from me—who, though younger, am senior to him in ministry. Through the years during our many conversations, this anointed brother has repeatedly asked me, “How is it that you have such wisdom beyond your years?” (Of course, that is his stated observation, not mine.)
Well, I finally told him my “secret” by phone one day…and now I am writing this post to tell it to you too (so please keep it hush-hush, okay? chuckle).
Let’s start by taking a look at a very interesting passage from the Book of Job in the OT, and then we’ll build from there:
So these three men stopped answering Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes. But Elihu son of Barakel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, became very angry with Job for justifying himself rather than God. He was also angry with the three friends, because they had found no way to refute Job, and yet had condemned him. Now Elihu had waited before speaking to Job because they were older than he. But when he saw that the three men had nothing more to say, his anger was aroused.
So Elihu son of Barakel the Buzite said:
“I am young in years,
and you are old;
that is why I was fearful,
not daring to tell you what I know.
I thought, ‘Age should speak;
advanced years should teach wisdom.’
But it is the spirit in a man,
the breath of the Almighty, that gives him understanding.
It is not only the old who are wise,
not only the aged who understand what is right. (Job 32:1-9, NIV)
Most Christians are familiar with the story of Job and his “three comforters,” having heard excerpts in many a Sunday sermon. However, few realize that there were actually FOUR men sitting there with Job in those days.
In fact, Elihu was so quiet that we do not even learn of his presence until chapter thirty-two! What is is even more interesting about this man is the fact that when the Lord Himself shows up, He rebukes Job, then Job’s three “friends”…but He never says one negative word to Elihu.
For six chapters Elihu preached righteousness to Job, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. When he was done, God Almighty showed up in chapter thirty-eight and confirmed Elihu’s every word. What a testimony to the wisdom and anointing of that young man—and what a rebuke towards Elihu’s “elders” whose words the Lord denounced:
After the LORD had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has. So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. You have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.” So Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite did what the LORD told them; and the LORD accepted Job’s prayer. (Job 42:7-9, NIV)
So what do we learn from the story of Elihu? Age is not the issue, wisdom is.
Further, that wisdom comes from the Spirit of God to and through the spirit of a man willing to listen to Him. This, then, brings me to the point of revealing my secret, with which people of all ages can attain wisdom “beyond their years” (regardless of their age):
Oh, how I love your law!
I meditate on it all day long.
Your commands make me wiser than my enemies,
for they [His commandments] are ever with me.
I have more insight than all my teachers,
for I meditate on your statutes.
I have more understanding than the elders,
for I obey your precepts.
I have kept my feet from every evil path
so that I might obey your word.
I have not departed from your laws,
for you yourself have taught me.
How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
I gain understanding from your precepts;
therefore I hate every wrong path. (Psalm 119:97-104, NIV)
Psalm 119 happens to be my favorite Psalm. Herein, under the subheading of the Hebrew letter “Mem,” we find my secret. Best of all, this “secret” is applicable to everyone interested in attaining wisdom “beyond their years.”
The key is: Mediation on, and study of, God’s Word.
Biblical “mediation” is not some weird thing where you sit in a painful position and “contemplate nothingness.” No, that is eastern religion poppycock. Biblical mediation is where you ponder the Scriptures, and study them in earnest.
The Hebrew word also carries with it the idea of “muttering to yourself,” meaning you need to speak God’s Word aloud to yourself as you contemplate various passages. Ask yourself, “How does this apply to my life? What is the Lord saying here?” In other words, the Bible actually tells you to talk to yourself! (Just make sure your discussing the Bible when you do…chuckle.)
Prayer is also the KEY part of biblical meditation. The best Person to ask about the Scriptures is the One Who wrote them! So have a good conversation with Jesus about His love-letter to you, and let Him, “Open your eyes that you may behold wonderful things from His law.” (Psalm 119:18)
Now, of course, I do study other sources of information. However, I have learned that I am better-equipped to “rightly judge” those sources—and to properly extract the “precious” wisdom from the “base” material surrounding it—by making the Word of God my primary source of study and meditation (to include the use of good Bible-study resources such as concordances, bible dictionaries, lexicons, and Greek/Hebrew interlinear texts).
Why? Well, notice what mediation on God’s word can do for any man or woman who will take the time to do so:
1 – Make them wiser than their enemies: Such “enemies” (whether Christian or not) obviously do not live by, or meditate on, God’s Word. If they did, they would not choose to be hostile towards a child of God in the first place. (Note: Those who apply biblical church discipline to a sinning Christian are not “enemies” to them. Actually, they are their very best friends—Proverbs 27:5-6.)
2 – Give them greater insight than all their teachers: “Teachers,” if they stop meditating on the Word, will actually regress in their knowledge of God. Meanwhile, their own “students” will surpass them in the knowledge of God and the things of God—but only if they themselves make the Word of God their daily meditation.
3 – Impart to them greater understanding than even their elders: Elihu stated clearly in the passages from Job above, that age alone is not enough to attain bona fide wisdom. A man or woman needs to know God personally, and then also study and apply His Word in their lives with joy. (See also my blog post on The REAL Gospel.)
How is it that I am being used by the Lord to mentor and minister to people who are even older than I? Because, “Oh, how I love God’s law. I meditate on it all day long!” Therefore, whenever I am reviewing non-biblical sources of information, I am comparing it with the Word of God “to see if these things be so” (Acts 17:10-12). Even when I am running errands or playing with the kids, I am often thinking of (and talking about) God’s Word.
So there you have my “secret”…and it was apparently Elihu’s secret a few millennia before I came along.
Let me make some final notes about mentorship before we conclude: Keep in mind that we can all learn from each other in various areas, and thus, mentor each other. Please do not mistake the fact that I mentor others in the things of ministry and the prophetic, as an indication that these same brethren (and a few sisters) do not also teach me as well.
Some of my “protégés” are actually friends of mine. From them I also learn new things about my Heavenly Father because of their own unique biblical perspective of Him. Others are experts in their fields (e.g. business), and I love to sit and listen to them so I can learn what they know. (I have found that the more I grow in wisdom, the less I talk and the more I listen to others...because I already know what I know.) In short, I may be a particular person’s “protégé” as much as they may be mine.
Too often there has been an overemphasis of “mentor-protégé” relationships in various Christian circles, which often amounts to nothing more than an egocentric minister trying to puff him or herself up. Some ministers are so insecure that they need to surround themselves with “protégés” or “sons in the ministry” in order to make themselves feel important, or to look good (so they think) in other people’s eyes. Avoid such silliness.
Simply make the decision that you can learn from anybody who knows more about any topic than you do. Proverbs has many powerful verses in this regard, but one quick one I’ll direct your attention to for now is this:
Wisdom shouts in the street,
She lifts her voice in the square;
At the head of the noisy streets she cries out;
At the entrance of the gates in the city she utters her sayings:
“How long, O naive ones, will you love being simple-minded?
And scoffers delight themselves in scoffing
And fools hate knowledge? (See Proverbs 1:20-33 for the whole passage)
Wisdom is shouting from every quarter. The wise man and woman pays attention, and learns. Learn from your “teachers.” Learn from your “elders.” You can learn from perfect strangers. You can even learn from your “enemies” if you seek the Lord for His counsel in such matters:
Even though princes sit and talk against me, Your servant meditates on Your statutes….
Your commandments make me wiser than my enemies, for they [His commandments] are ever mine….
Those who love Your law have great peace, and nothing causes them to stumble. I hope for Your salvation, O LORD, and do Your commandments. (Psalm 119:23, 98, 165-166, NASB)
The key is to keep the Word of God as your chief counselor:
How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers. (Psalm 1:1-3, NASB)
Your testimonies also are my delight; they are my counselors…. Therefore I love Your commandments above gold, yes, above fine gold. Therefore I esteem right all Your precepts concerning everything, I hate every false way. (Psalm 119:24, 127-129, NASB)
Of Donkeys and Prophets
The prophet Balaam learned wisdom from a donkey—but that animal spoke in line with God’s Word (see 2 Peter 2:15-16 and Numbers 22:21-33). So regardless of the vessel, I advise you to “learn to discern” when Wisdom herself is speaking through them, and when she is not. The more you meditate on God’s Word, the easier it becomes to discern such things…even when reading the writings of a perfect stranger on his ministry blog (chuckle).
In closing, let me suggest that you make my favorite Psalm, one of yours also: Psalm 119. It is the longest chapter in the Bible, but, Oh! what a blessing it is! You will be greatly profited thereby, especially if you make portions of it your daily meditation.
Special Note: The inspiration for me to write this post today was due to the marvelous testimony of a young man, Joshua. His is the first post listed on the new RichVermillion.com Testimonial page. May he—and everyone who reads this article—be encouraged hereby, to continuously live in and by God’s Word. ( 2 Timothy 2:14-26)