Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed. — Proverbs 15:22
It has been a year since we posted a devotion on Excellent or Praiseworthy called “Good Experience” (February 4, 2008). It covers this very topic of linking up with others who have “good experience” with life, marriage, and even deployment. If you are struggling in your marriage why would you want to go to someone for help who has a cynical view of loving relationships? Wise counsel can be found in those who have weathered the storms of life and can steer you away from bad decisions. They can pray with you and for you when you feel discouraged. They can encourage you not to give up when all seems hopeless. They can be your cheering section—your “fan club”—to encourage you to persevere under trial. They can offer perspective when these days of being geographically separated during wartime seem like they will never end.
Day 35 of The Love Dare offers excellent advice in this area of marriage relationships and asks these questions: “Do you have an older couple or a friend of the same gender you can turn to for good advice, for prayer support, and for regular accountability check-ups? Do you have someone in your life who shoots straight with you?” (p. 172) Searching out someone (of the same gender) who can offer that kind of wisdom and help is vital to restoring a troubled marriage or navigating periods of stress with success. The flip side of that is to carefully avoid those who would provide bad advice—counseling you to leave your spouse, pursue selfish pastimes, make bad financial choices. Those “friends” do not have your best interests at heart. Don’t weigh all the “voices” bombarding you equally! Be discerning. . . .be careful who you listen to.
The authors share this: “How do you pick a good mentor? You look for a person who has the kind of marriage you want. You look for a person whose heart for Christ comes first before everything else. You look for someone who doesn’t live by his or her opinions but by the unchanging Word of God. And more times than not, this person will likely be delighted you asked for help. Start praying for God to send this person into your life. Then pick a time to meet and talk.” (p. 173) Perhaps your pastor or chaplain can connect you with a person to be that mentor. Sharing your struggles with a trusted counselor/friend need not be intimidating, but rather might be just the kind of help you need to get over a rough time. Some mentors might want to meet regularly with you for prayer, for Bible study, or for a chance to ask good questions about your actions and habits. Ultimately you are accountable to God, so a godly mentor needs to be just that person who will point you towards God and away from the lure of sin.
One of our first Bible study groups included some Navy submariners who had much experience with deployment. One of the men shared he would select an accountability partner before he would go underway—someone whom he trusted to help him maintain his spiritual disciplines and observe how he handled his free time and shore leave. We were impressed by this intentional action and considered it to be a demonstration of spiritual and emotional maturity. It is that kind of positive action which will help you and your spouse to finish your deployment with “no regrets.”
Foolishness would have us believe that we don’t need any help, or to ignore it when it’s offered. Wisdom would remind us that good counsel is available from God’s Word and from those who know, love, and obey its truth. Foolishness would have us believe the lie that rules for pure living somehow don’t apply to our situation or that we are somehow an exception to them. Wisdom would remind us that there are really no new temptations and that there is hope for victorious living in Jesus Christ. Proverbs 12:15 says it all: “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel.”
Here is today’s dare during deployment: Pray to find a good marriage mentor (of the same gender)—someone you trust to be honest with you and with whom you can be accountable during this time of geographic separation from your spouse.
Here are Scriptures to encourage you in truth:
But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. — Hebrews 3:13
So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God. — Romans 14:12
Where there is no guidance the people fall, But in abundance of counselors there is victory. — Proverbs 11:14
He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm. — Proverbs 13:20
Kendrick, Stephen and Alex, The Love Dare (Nashville: B & H Publishing Group, 2008)